What Is a Project Management Plan and How to Create It?
Photo from Adobe Stock
Creating a Project Management plan can be extremely beneficial. Smash that link to learn more about the planning process.
Every Project Manager wants their next project to run smoothly. But that’s not always what happens. According to the data, only 78% of projects hit their original project goals.
So how can you make sure your next project runs like clockwork? Well, a wise strategy is to formulate a project management plan before you begin.
Here’s a guide to help you understand a project management plan and how to create one.
What is a Project Management Plan?
If you’re about to run a new project, a Project Management plan is probably one of the first – and most important – documents you’ll need to create.
This plan outlines all the steps, dependencies and tasks (or activities) that will take place to complete the project. It’s a document that covers the detail, so even minor tasks will exist somewhere on this plan.
That’s because a seemingly tiny and insignificant activity can have something of the butterfly effect on a project, so you must establish and document any processes, resource requirements and dependencies.
But don’t mistake it for a Gantt chart. A project management plan is a broader document that outlines the project goals, resources and budget.
A project management plan is also a chance for the team to agree on a document and ensure they’re all working on the same page.
Writing down the activities ensures you’re never in the position of assuming someone else is completing a task they thought was your responsibility.
Finally, a project plan is there to show clients or your major project stakeholder. However, they will want to know more about the vital information (such as the deadline and resource requirements) rather than the detail.
How to Create a Project Management Plan
The management plan is a formal document. And if you want to write a project management plan, you’ll need to understand what content is expected. Here’s an outline of what a project management plan must include and how to write one.
Start With Your Objectives
A proper plan must have a clear goal. So your first task is to discuss the expectations of the project with project stakeholders. The objectives must include the scope, deadline, budget, and critical milestones.
If you aren’t sure who your stakeholders are, now’s the time to research and find out. From there, you’ll need a short and succinct description of the project objectives.
Write Your Plan
Now it’s time to begin drafting your project plan, including your Gantt chart. It’s worth running a workshop with your team to brainstorm some project management ideas, including all the activities and dependencies you can identify.
Consider Roles and Responsibilities
You’ll find it relatively easy to spot owners for most activities when putting together your plan. But what’s sometimes harder is understanding a project’s higher-level roles and responsibilities.
But it’s critical. You might want to assign people as owners for critical milestones, or you could do it by the business department. But those people will ultimately be responsible for ensuring that aspect of the project gets done.
When assigning roles and responsibilities, ensure you communicate this with everyone in the team to help set expectations. If you’re working across departments, get buy-in from line managers too.
One sub-document in your project management plan will be the communications plan.
This is often done in a table format and lists the communications you’ll use throughout the project, including the distribution list.
Doing so will ensure every team member, stakeholder and third party always has accurate and timely information so as not to delay the project. You’ll also need to ensure the communications plan covers exception reporting.
That’s the communication you send out when something on your plan has gone wrong.
Risk and Issues Management
No project runs entirely according to plan. You’ll find issues that crop up along the way. But you can do something to manage these circumstances, and that’s by tracking your risks and issues.
In the project management plan, you’ll want to sit down as a team and brainstorm any potential risks you see with the project. It’s worth getting advice from groups who’ve run similar projects before.
At the same time, it’s your first opportunity to start tracking known issues on the project and storing these in an issues log. You’ll need to do this throughout the project, and you’ll also need to revisit your risk management log regularly.
Making sure your project is on track will form a central part of your role when managing projects.
In the project management plan, you can talk a little about your approach and any support you need from teams to help keep things in line with the program.
This is also a good point in the document to discuss any project management tools you’ll use to help keep track of daily tasks and critical milestones.
You’ve already established your communications plan, but you’ll also need to go more in-depth about the reporting you’ll use throughout the project. There are two types of reports to consider here.
The first is the reporting and data you’ll need as a project manager to oversee the project. The second is the reporting that senior management and project stakeholders will need.
The latter is likely to be something bespoke – if not, sit down with the relevant people and ask what they need to see in the report.
Finally, you’ll need to outline what you’ll do when the project finishes.
You should evaluate the project to work out the strengths and weaknesses and identify some risks that came to fruition and any issues that sent the project off course.
You should also create a lessons-learned document to pass on to future projects.
Start Your Next Project the Right Way
Good projects start with smart project planning. Use this guide to ensure your next venture begins with a well-organised and thorough project management plan.
For more guidance on putting project documentation together and familiarising yourself with the latest project management frameworks, head here to view our latest training courses.