Project managers need to prepare for a variety of challenges that can get in the way of progress. If you want to be able to run projects smoothly, a project management plan can help you and your team keep everything on track.
What is project planning, and what are the steps to follow when you want to write a good project plan? We’ve got you covered with helpful information and tips below.
Our Top Tips for Creating a Project Plan
- Defining a Project Plan?
- Purpose of a Project Plan?
- What Is In a Project Plan?
- How Do You Get Started?
- Elements of a Project Management Plan?
- What Is a Project Plan Template?
Defining a Project Plan?
Writing up a project plan, which is typically set up as a Gantt chart, will be worthwhile because it’ll focus on things like project scope, schedule, and costs.
Throughout the project planning phase, you’ll work on defining things like scope, objectives, and tasks, and you’ll work with your team and stakeholders to get this done. In the end, you’ll have a formal plan that will be easy to follow from the start of a project to its completion. This approved plan will outline how you’ll work through the project, as well as how you’ll monitor and make changes along the way, so it’ll serve as a handy guide.
Note: Even after it’s approved, your plan can be tweaked throughout the course of the project, so if you notice that you aren’t meeting your milestones like you should, you can certainly implement changes.
Purpose of a Project Plan
Planning everything out at the beginning of a project can be a smart way to ensure everyone on your team will be on the same page and aware of what needs to be done and how it should be done. This type of plan also makes it easier to monitor progress and implement changes in a timely fashion.
Your project plan can help answer various questions regarding the intention of the project, who it’s supposed to benefit, and how you’ll go about meeting objectives. Things like your goals, resources, milestones, risks, and scope of work can be outlined in your plan. Therefore, the information contained within it can guide your team as you work on executing and controlling the project.
What Is in a Project Plan?
You can include baselines and management plans that cover the following:
- Schedules and milestones
- Quality baseline
- Costs and budget
How Do You Get Started?
A good way to start is by answering a few questions about the ultimate goals of the project. Try to gather as much information as possible to answer questions like the following:
- Who are the clients and stakeholders?
- What deliverables are expected?
- When are tasks expected to be completed?
- Why is the project being pursued, and what methods can be used to complete it?
Note: You can work on a project plan outline. Then, as you move through the project planning steps with your team, you can create a full plan that will be approved and followed.
Elements of a Project Management Plan
- Outline Project Phases & Tasks: begin by figuring out what path the project will take from start to finish, including the phases and tasks that will need to be completed along the way. Use this to brainstorm what you anticipate will be required, with the understanding that your expectations won’t be entirely accurate. There might be areas you can plan with greater detail, and there may be areas that need to be filled in later on once the project gets going.
- Define Tasks & Sub-Tasks: work on refining the phases and tasks so they’re broken down further. Come up with tasks and sub-tasks, so you can hone in on the specific steps your team will need to take.
- Create Task Schedule & Assign Deadlines: as you work on creating a schedule of tasks and deadlines, provide a bit of extra time that can be used to implement changes. Projects don’t always flow perfectly, and there are things you can’t plan for, so have backup plans.
- Include Baselines & Milestones: using baselines can help you keep track of your progress, while milestones can help everyone know what to expect and when. Both of these can alert you to the need for adjustments to keep the project moving in the right direction.
What Is a Project Plan Template?
A project plan should showcase the phases of your project, the tasks that need to be completed within those phases, and your milestones. Also, the tasks should be detailed and include things like the start date and deadline, along with notes on where any tasks will rely on one another.
A lot goes into this type of document, so it’s normal to feel overwhelmed, especially when you’re first learning how to put it together. This is when a project management plan template or sample project plan can be helpful. You can also search for project plan examples online to see what these documents look like when complete.
Want to Become an Even Better Project Manager? RMC Can Help!
Knowing how to create a clear, effective plan is just one aspect of managing projects like a pro. If you want to become a proficient project manager, check out the many courses offered by RMC. All of our courses are taught by experts, and you can use them to earn PDUs or prepare for certifications like the CAPM and PMP.