A project management plan is a detailed list of the deliverables, factors affecting the quality of the project, timelines, budget, etc.
It’s a comprehensive document that aims to finish the entire project-from the start to the end effortlessly.
It lists all variables that will be used for project execution throughout the lifecycle of the project to ensure excellent delivery.
A project plan in project management is as important as getting the buy-in from supervisors and stakeholders.
Just like executing a project is impossible without onboarding your team or involving them in the mission and vision, a project is useless without a plan.
Let’s learn more about a project management plan, its importance, and the reasons you should create one.
What is a Project Management Plan?
A well-defined project management plan specifies how a project must be executed and controlled.
There’s much more to a project management plan than a Gantt Chart.
A project plan is created after conducting a meeting with the stakeholders and the team.
It requires approval from the stakeholders before it can be executed.
Some managers just create a summary of the project, while other plans are pretty detailed.
It covers all other plans, such as risk management, communication plans, and so on.
It also defines the project scope and lists the steps you must undertake to achieve the end goals.
Note that project planning is an iterative approach in which the processes are specified and elaborated as and when required.
The iterative nature also means that the plan might change when the project demands it.
In a traditional project management plan, for instance, the plan defines each phase of the project, starting from the initiation to the closure and covering all execution steps with details.
It gives a detailed outline of all constraints that might affect the quality of the project, including a budget, schedule, deadline, resources needed, employees, etc.
Agile project management methodology, on the other hand, is a more flexible and modern approach that can’t be planned end-to-end.
These plans are created and adjusted throughout the lifecycle of the project (based on how the project turns out and how efficiently different tasks are accomplished).
A project plan is not finalized till each phase of the project (initiation, execution, controlling, managing, and completion) is planned beforehand.
Multi-stage Project Planning
A multi-stage project that requires several steps before it’s completed involves iterative planning.
That’s mainly because of the fact that the entire project can’t be planned until you start work.
If that’s the case, the manager works with the stakeholders and other members involved in the project to plan only the initial phase of the project in detail and leave the rest of the phases for later.
Once the planned phase nears completion, they create a detailed plan for the next stage based on the results of the previous phase.
A multi-stage project is no different from a traditional one in terms of the number of stages required to complete the task.
It consists of the same five crucial phases — planning, initiation, execution, monitoring, and closing.
Regardless of whether you are planning the entire project in advance or the particular phases (one at a time), you are going to need to consider all the variables that are generally included in the project management plan.
They include −
- The primary objectives of the project, i.e., the reasons you are executing it and what you expect from the project.
- Scope of the project
- Schedules and milestones
- Total budget and the funding sources
- Quality measurement
- The list of people working on the project, roles assigned to each employee, and the deadline by which they are supposed to finish the assigned tasks.
- The selected mode of communication
- Methods to evaluate risks and manage them
- Steps to implement changes in the project
As soon as you have developed a detailed plan, you can use it as a base to track your project progress and whether your team is on track.
Based on this, you can make changes to the project and manage it on a daily basis.
As mentioned before, a project management plan (especially if you are following the agile practice) might change from time to time.
You never know how different phases of the project will turn out.
While managers often plan the project such that it has complete details of each variable before execution, changes are pretty common.
Why Do You Need Project Management Plans?
As a project manager, you have a lot on your plate. Remembering every little detail and executing each phase correctly can get hectic.
With a project plan in place, it’s easier to concentrate on your project and complete it following your pre-determined quality standards.
It is a project management plan that specifies the details of project execution, when to complete each task, and how to allocate your resources in different stages.
To maximize your returns from the project and satisfy your clients and stakeholders, you must put effort into creating a comprehensive plan before the execution stage.
Remember, a plan is just a written document that specifies the steps for completing a project, but it makes the actual execution easier and more manageable.
Should you ever run out of time or budget while executing a phase in a project, you can use the risk management plan to deal with the situation efficiently.
It serves as a starting point for any project, showing you the comparison between how you planned the project and what’s the actual progress on it.
A project plan is created to keep everyone on the same page.
With a detailed plan, your team knows what’s expected of them, what’s the deliverables, and how you are supposed to achieve them.
A written plan is pretty useful. By laying out the plan in detail, it’s easier to deal with issues, like delays, exceeding budget, or straying from the goals.
You can also align the project with your organizational goals when you have a detailed plan in place.