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How to Write a Successful Project Plan

The project plan is one of the most important and useful documents in your toolkit, and should be referred to an updated throughout the project lifecycle.

Its initial purpose is to kick-start the project by convincing the decision makers (usually the people who control the funds e.g. the Project Board or Steering Committee) that the project is viable and will meet their needs and timeframes, budgets, expectations.

If the project plan is poorly written or contains insufficient detail, the project may not even get past this first decision gate and may never actually get off the ground. Many viable projects have floundered at this stage due to poor planning and communication. On the flip side, if you can deliver a great project plan, it establishes your credibility as a project manager, starts the project on a sound footing, and provides the team with a mandate for action and a clear direction to follow.

Don’t confuse a project plan with a project schedule. A schedule is merely a component of a project plan, and usually takes the form of a timeline or Gantt chart depicting tasks vs. timeline. A project schedule is a vital tool and should complement the project plan. Larger project plans contain several schedules, normally as appendices, that are referred to throughout the document. Such schedules would include an overall timeline, a test schedule, an implementation schedule, the critical path analysis, a resource allocation schedule etc.

What should be in a Project Plan?

The project plan serves as a roadmap for the entire project team providing guidance on the priority of activities, the scope of work, the methodologies and governance to be used, who the stakeholders are, the broad strategy to take, how costs and people will be managed, the quality standards in the project, how the project will communicate with stakeholders, how performance and benefits will be measured etc.

The main areas you need to cover in your plan include:

Project Background
Objectives
Scope
Constraints
Assumptions
Dependencies & Impacts
Issues & Risks
Methodologies & Strategy
Controls: Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, Resources
Communications
Schedule of Delivery
Performance Measurement
Benefits Realization

As you can see there are many elements to a project plan, and some of the larger plans can stretch well over a hundred pages. This makes structuring your document all the more important. A consistent format with a logical order and clear headings will allow your readers to quickly navigate through the document and get to the details that are important to them.

Hindmarsh Finance can offer a Complete Project Plan Which Can Increase the Efficiency of Project Managers to Meet Any Business Project or IT Project.