Writing a project plan ensures the success of the project you are managing. As a project manager, you can enjoy various benefits by drafting project plans before the project begins. You can easily organize and prioritize tasks. Project plans also allow project managers to break down the tasks, monitor progress, track expenses, and generate reports. However, enjoying the benefits of successfully executing projects only comes after successfully drafting project plans. Hence, drafting a detailed project plan is the key to executing a successful project.
As a project manager, you should always try to improve your skills in drafting project plans. However, here are some useful tips for writing detailed and effective project plans no matter your current skills. You can also use these tips collectively as a guide to writing a simple project plan.
Find Project Requirements
Drafting project plans cannot begin without gathering the requirements of the project. Project requirements are the foundation on which you will write the project plan. Don’t rely on your hearing at this step. Actively listen and understand all the project requirements from the clients and stakeholders. Ask questions if necessary. In fact, ask questions to gather as much detail as you can.
Once the project has been explained to you, repeat it to share your understanding. Ask project brief in writing to avoid mishaps or blunders during project execution. You don’t want to waste time on drafting project plan for a project you barely understand. Ensure that you have fully grasped all the requirements and only then begin the process of drafting the project plan.
Define Project Scope
The defining project scope will help you define the project and its purpose. Writing down the project definition and project scope as project scope will help you understand the project's boundaries.
Defining the project purpose will help you understand the goal of the project too. The clear goal will help you explain the project further in the process of drafting project plan to create a project outline, divide project activities, and explain roles and responsibilities.
You will also create a project outline that aligns with the overall project scope at this step. Share the outline with the client, stakeholders, and the account manager to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Don’t move ahead until all parties approve the outline.
Determine Project Budget
The project outline will help you estimate the project budget. If the client and stakeholders had already approved the project scope and outline, there are few chances of any issues at this step. However, this step is essential for you to understand the possibilities and the scale of activities of the project. Determining a budget will help you create a plan that can be completed within that budget. It will also highlight any time constraints the clients and stakeholders might have.
Breakdown Project Structure
At this step of drafting project plan, you will expand on the outline you formulated earlier. You can combine your knowledge of the budget from the previous step to create a detailed project outline.
Start by dividing the project scope into smaller achievable goals. You can then break those smaller goals into manageable deliverables with defined timelines. Sharing this project structure with clients and stakeholders will help manage their expectations. You can also explain to clients how the project will progress according to the deliverables and timeline. Your clients are happy to know that they will be receiving regular deliverables, which will help with building trust and contribute to client satisfaction.
Define Project Activities
Once your clients and stakeholders are satisfied with the project breakdown, it’s time for you to create a detailed action plan for the project. This step of drafting project plans will help you visualize the step-by-step process for the entire project. You can use the breakdown you created in the step above to create an action plan for each deliverable.
However, writing a detailed action plan is not enough. The step-by-step process of executing a project can be especially costly. As a good project manager, your task is to turn the action plan into an efficient one. For example, if there is a requirement of designing several designs throughout the project, you can compile them together and allocate a budget accordingly. If you divide the job of designing into several parts, you might pay more to the designer. But getting a designer on board for the total number of designs required over a while will be cheaper.
Assemble a Team
After writing detailed project activities, all that you need to do is find people who will carry out those activities. However, you will have to keep the budget in mind when assembling your team for the project.
Find the best talent that fits the project budget and assign them their tasks. Explain roles and responsibilities to the team members thoroughly and effectively. Answer their questions and let them know that you can help them throughout the project.
Track and Adjust Plan as Necessary
As a project manager, you must know that you have to plan contingencies no matter how well-written your project plan . If things go wrong at any step, you will be responsible for setting them right. You don’t want to be caught unprepared or go into panic mode. Hence, you need to prepare backup plans every step of the way. Evaluate risks to understand things that can go wrong and then prepare accordingly.
However, once you have prepared for the worst, try your best to stick to the project plan and motivate everyone to stick to it too. Track the project daily to ensure project execution as planned. Encourage open communication so that any issues can be resolved immediately.
Finally, don’t forget to document everything along the way. Keep all communication in black and white. Even if you are holding in-person meetings to discuss progress, prepare meeting notes to share with all parties involved in the project. Documenting things will ensure smooth execution for the project and maintain your image as a responsible project manager too.