Are you unsure how to create a project plan? This guide can help.
Hannibal, the team leader in the 1980s television series “The A-Team,” would often revel in the satisfaction of a successful mission. He would say his catch phrase, “I love when a plan comes together.”
We never got to see the masterful plans behind them. Other than some shooting that never hit anyone and some welding of scrap parts in an old shed, we never really got to see them. Faceman and B.A. were not on our radar. Baracus used their project management software to create these highly questionable plans. Everything just worked out every time.
A solid plan is the key to a successful project. Any good project manager will know this. We need to do what Hannibal and The A-Team didn’t: write a great project plan.
Project planning is crucial
Without a plan, you’re like going on a journey without a map. Although you might eventually get there, it will take a lot of effort and money.
Better project planning could have solved four of the top seven reasons for project failures cited in a PMI survey.
A poorly-written plan can lead you to scope creep, missed deadlines, and blown budgets.
Before you begin writing code or cutting wood, sit down with your team to create a project plan. This will help you establish expectations that will guide and guide you.
Note: These steps assume that you are using project management software to manage team communication, scheduling and budgeting. You can also use a project management tool to record and store the information you collect in the following steps. You can try a free version of project management software if you aren’t ready to commit to a project management tool.
5 steps to create a project plan
Step 1: Define your project
No matter if you’re opening a new store or designing an app, it’s important to first define what you want to achieve. This is not as easy as writing “I want a new crepe shop” on sticky notes.
Six key elements are required for your project definition.
Step 2: Identify the risks, assumptions, constraints
You can avoid potential setbacks and pitfalls before they happen to help you navigate through rough waters.
Designate a team member to be responsible for risk management at this stage. This person could be you, the project manager or another lead depending on the size of your project. It doesn’t matter what size project you have, the important thing is that someone is responsible to monitor any risks you’ve identified (e.g. missing deadlines, exceeding budget). With a clear project definition, project management software can make managing risk easy.
This stage (and all project planning) is not about trying to avoid chaotic conditions. As you create assumptions and constraints, it is important to document them.
Your team should know if the project must be completed within normal working hours (no overtime) and if it must be completed using only resources that are available.
Step 3: Organise the people involved in your project
This step is the core of your project plan. After all, project management is largely people-management. The more detailed you are in steps one and 2, the easier it will be for this step.
Organizing your project involves identifying and documenting these:
Step 4: List all project resources
You identified the top-level requirements necessary to complete the project successfully in step 1. Now you have identified the human resources required to perform and manage the task.