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A project is much more than a defined goal, team involvement, and deliverables. It needs a detailed and flexible project plan to keep everything straight and on time. A project plan not only offers a roadmap to project managers, but also specifies the name of employees handling different tasks, when and how the team will communicate, and when the work is due.

Developing a project plan is not as complicated as it may sound. However, if you are a Project Management newbie and sitting clueless on your desk wondering where to begin, this read might give you a kick start. Here are top 7 tips that will help you draft your first project plan or enhance the existing ones:

  1. Start with an executive summary page: Project plan development requires you to thoroughly research the requirements and scope to ensure that nothing is missed out. Start with a brief project description, explaining the need and goals of the project. Make sure that the project goals are measurable and concise. List down the expected duration, project deliverables, number of employees needed to begin with, and the project budget. Also, mention the expected risks, key stakeholders, and criteria of completion. It should be clearly mentioned what determines the success and failure of the project.
  2. Use a staffing plan: Refer to your organization’s plan and assign available employees to various tasks, as per their skills. Explain the role of each team member in the project and optionally, include other resources that would be needed to complete project deliverables.
  3. Create an activity schedule: This is where the actual planning begins. Draft an activity schedule spreadsheet listing the number of days or hours required for each task to meet goals and generate deliverables. Mention the start and end date of each task, along with someone who would be responsible to complete the task. As a best practice, list the deliverables related to each task. You can also include columns to record the forecasted and actual working hours.
  4. Develop an overall project schedule: This worksheet should include the overall project duration, milestones, and review and delivery dates. You can also include the sequence of tasks.
  5. Include project costs: You can include a spreadsheet detailing the overall cost and effort required to complete each task. Make sure that you also include a detailed description of why you need those funds.
  6. Include a communication plan: It’s a best practice to include a page describing your communication plan. This plan should detail out the intervals at which meeting would be held and how updates would be shared with stakeholders and other team members.
  7. Include an approval sheet: At the end, include an approval sheet mentioning the project name, the project manager name, and names and blank lines for signatures of authorities.

Remember each project is unique and so should be the project plan. There is no hard and fast rule to create it. So, use your judgment once you have understood the requirements of your project. To be an expert in project management, not only must you know the tools, terms and skills but pursuing a PMP Certification training will be advantageous in the field.

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