When was the last time you got lost in a project because you didn't plan?
Take this scenario; for example, a builder wants to build a mall in your locality. He has all the resources ready. But consider planning a waste of time. He initiates the project without a proper management plan. Six months later, you hear, "construction of the mall was stopped due to unforeseen circumstances, and it may take years before it is complete." The reason - Shortage of resources and money."
What happened here? If the builder was so sure that he had all the resources and money, why did the project fail?
Not planning the project caused the rapid depletion of resources, workers, or laborers had no timeline, and milestones were not created. All in all, it caused wastage of time, money, and resources. If only the builder planned the project correctly, the project would have been successful.
Therefore it is very critical to plan the project comprehensively before the project starts to take-off ground. Proper planning of a project increases success, avoids frustrations, wastage of time and resources, and completes the stipulated time.
A project management plan helps depict a step-by-step process, setting clear goals to reach your path.
» What is the Project Management Plan?
The project management plan is a format that defines how the project is initiated, executed, monitored, and controlled.
It defines the specific approach the team takes to deliver the intended direction. It outlines the scope, cost, deliverable, and timing of a project.
A person who is responsible for overseeing the project is known as the Project Manager.
» How to Write a Project Plan?
Below is a simple project plan template you can use. These steps will help you in the preparation of the project management plan.
1. Identify the scope and value of your project:
To identify the scope of your project, to find the scope of your project, you can ask yourself the questions listed below.
• Know the background of your project.
• Identify why your project started?
• What are the benefits of doing the project?
• What are the objectives of your project?
• Identify the deliverables
• Identify constraints such as resources, time, and cost
Please note: Constraints may not always be definite. There can be uncertainties sometimes to calculate the exact cost. In such situations, give the range where the expenses can fall with an additional contingency sum in case of emergencies.
2. Conduct thorough research:
Before writing a project plan, one must conduct thorough research regarding various aspects of the project. One must know all the facts about the project. Go through the documents and communication relevant to the project. A project plan must be methodical in approach. Having answers to questions like the below will help you understand the needs of the project.
• What are the goals, and how can they be achieved?
• Clients needs and expectations
• Who is sponsoring the project? Will they be open to communication when you need them to be?
• How will the progress of the project be monitored?
3. Create a project plan outline:
A planning outline defines your project's essential points, such as deliverables, deadlines, meetings, costs, resources available, and many other matters. The outline must have specific goals that need to be achieved.
Lack of a clear goal increases the chances of failure by 37%, states the study.
Clear goals are the anchor or base for all your requirements, tasks, and deadline. If it is missing, they won't have the base holding them.
Your project goals must align with your team and company's OKR(Objectives and key results) Write down your project goals and connect them with stakeholder's requirements. Add milestones, aka check-in points, so that everyone in the team must know how the progress looks and what the expectations are, and how they will be measured.
4. Prepare for risks:
Be prepared for potholes along the path of your project. Even a perfectly planned project can face hurdles due to one or many reasons such as scarcity of resources, health crisis, team members resigning, and many other reasons.
Prepare all the imaginary risks and situations you can face in the project and answer how to solve them. Monitoring and analyzing the risks will keep the project from stalling or ending up unfinished.
5. Receive feedbacks:
Share your complete project with your team members and make sure to get feedback. Feedback is a necessary part of the approval of a project plan. The final plan will let them know their responsibilities, deadlines, and the other project-related works which need completion. Your team members will help you find errors and make the changes accordingly.
There is nothing as embarrassing as a stakeholder reading a project plan riddled with errors.
» What are the Components of a Project Management Plan?
The project management plan's purpose is to stakeholders what needs to be done, how to get it done, and when to get it done.
The project plan gives a detailed summary or timeline of the following events :
• All the tasks that need to be done
• Who will be performing those tasks
• Key indicators or milestones
• A finished project
Below we have listed components every project plan must include:
› Executive Summary:
The executive summary is also known as the proposal summary. It is a document of a part of a project plan that provides a quick overview of the project proposal so that the executive does not have to read through long documents. In short, the executive summary intensely concentrates on the stakeholder's interests and requirements.
It contains short statements that address the problems or proposal, feature background information, concise analysis, and a conclusion.
It is a very critical part of any project plan because it tells stakeholders whether to go ahead with the project or not.
Proposal summary or Executive summary consists of the following points:
• Introduction( Keep it short and crisp to make the reader continue reading)
• Table of contents
• Company's roles and strength
• The need, or the problems and the importance
• Advise a solution and explain the value
• Justify how the deal fits the organizations
• Conclusion ( The conclusion must be laser-focused on providing the significance of the project)
› Project scopes and deliverables:
Project scopes are the minute details that are involved in the project.
Project scope must be in the SMART format:
Deliverables are the final products that are to be delivered at the final stage of the project. The manager must list the details of the final deliverables.
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Budgeting is often the most challenging part of project planning. The proper budget allocation must be done to ensure that no extra costs start sprouting later in the project.
Schedules are an essential piece of project management. Meetings are scheduled to discuss the progress of the project or resolve any issues that may arise. In most cases, external stakeholders are involved in the determination of deadlines. Schedule changes mid-project needs management.
You can schedule meetings or call with software quickly.
› Quality Standards:
Every industry follows standard protocols. The project plan must define the quality standards to make sure the deliverables are up to mark. The organizations like IEEE, ISO-9001, among others, are in the business of developing quality standards. Thus they are fantastic resources for ensuring project quality.
› Human Resources plan:
Prepare a list of all the team members involved in the project and members who need to be hired. Team members are the most critical part of any project. Managing human resources can be a time-consuming task for many project managers. Each team member must be trained, and their productivity must be managed actively to make sure they are compatible with working on the project.
Human resources plan can consist of the following point:
The project team members are the most critical components in the project. Managing human resources is usually very time-consuming for project managers. Whenever hiring new workers for the project, Project managers must ensure that they must be trained, and the productivity must be managed actively.
› Stakeholders list:
This list contains the names and contact of stakeholders involved in the project. This list will help you understand which stakeholder holds the most power of decision in the project and the stakeholders' interests.
› Communication plan:
Communication is a critical part of any project management. Often lack of communication is the cause behind many issues in the project.
Of Course, the project manager must contact stakeholders in case of issues that concern the stakeholder's interest. In this case, project managers don't have any other option than to reach stakeholders and let them know of the project's problems early on.
It will help you assess the root of the problem and avoid any confrontations in the project's later stages.
› Risk assessment:
In the perfect world, the project will go smoothly without any problem. But in the real world, situations may arise out of the blue without warning, and project planners must be ready to prepare for the unexpected. Taking fast decisions in case anything goes wrong is the top-notch quality every project manager must-have.
To analyze and monitor risk, you can create a risk register.
The risk register can contain the following components:
• Description of risk: What kind of trouble can arise in your project? For instance, one of the critical team members can get sick or meet with an accident.
• Probability: What is the probability of risk turning into reality. Scale your risk on a scale of 1-10 to assess the complexity of risk
• Triggers: What kind of actions can trigger the risks?
• Response plan: If any of the risks involved in your risk register happen in real life, how will you respond? What steps will you take to avert the crisis? Which stakeholders will be notified? List all the possible responses to the risk.
› Procurement planning:
Whichever industry you work in, chances are you will have to outsource some of the services because of the lack of those services in your business.
While outsourcing the work to contractors, make sure they know the budget limit and deadline. Make sure the contractors you are hiring are dependable and the quality of their work is good.
» What are the Benefits of Having the Project Plan?
In this fast-paced world, there is immense pressure to hit deadlines on project managers. The nature of projects is getting complicated, and the deadlines are getting shorter day by day.
Poor planning or not planning the project at all is one of the top reasons for project failures.
Deadlines will be missed, projects will get more massive day by day, and resources will deplete at a rapid pace. The result will be an incomplete project.
Planning provides a detailed overview of your project, which is a critical factor in increasing success chances.
Here are some top benefit of having the project plan:
› Clear objectives:
Planning a project helps project managers have clear objectives regarding the project. Managers must that team members know their responsibilities and understand what is expected from them throughout the project. It will keep situations like no work or extra work at bay.
› Chances of reaching milestones are high:
Breaking the long term goal into short term goals helps reach the goal faster and in a better way. Proper planning ensures that each work is completed before the next job is started. It helps projects reach milestones one step at a time.
› Risk Assessment:
There's no doubt that roadblocks may arise during projects in the future. Planning the project and verifying every angle will help the planner identify and analyze the risks or tricky situations that may occur in the future during the project's execution. Proper risk assessments can enable project managers to overcome risks.
› Improves customer satisfaction:
The task of every project manager is to keep customers happy. Hence project managers analyze the needs of the customer and plan the project accordingly for greater customer satisfaction. This way, customers know what to expect from the project.
› Efficient resource allocation:
Thorough planning of projects helps allocate proper resources for various needs.
› Proper Communication:
Every team member must be involved in the planning of the project. Proper communication with team members will make it easier for them to know their responsibilities and project details.
» How to use Project Planning Software to turn the plan into action?
Long gone are the days when managers used the stack of papers to manage the projects. Imagine not using software for project planning. All the documents scattered, people mixing responsibilities, and carrying bulky papers everywhere on site. It will be a huge mess. The frustrations arising out of traditional project planning can be avoided with the use of project management software.
Project planning software helps arrange the plan systematically at one central place. Your team members will be able to access the project details from anywhere at any time.
Benefits of using project management software:
• Easy access to files and sharing in one central dashboard
• Improved communication and collaboration
• Better scheduling
• Manage tasks easily
• Track the milestones or progress effectively.
• Easily integrate new members of the team.
For more information on project management software, you can find the list of project management software.
» Key Takeaways
• In short, never neglect project planning if you want the project to be successful.
• Real work starts after planning.
• Understand the needs of your clients
• Know that not everything will go smoothly till the end. There can be unexpected roadblocks along the path. Hence, be prepared for the unexpected.
• You can use project management methodologies to plan out the stages. These methods ensure that no new phase is started without the completion of preliminary steps.
• Think of Project Management Plan like a Map, which tells you which are the easiest routes and at the same time specifies hurdles in the path