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Learn how to create a realistic and useful project plan. This post will provide background information, examples, a checklist, and step-by-step instructions to help you achieve this goal.
This guide will cover:
Project Planning Basics (What exactly does a project plan look like? Why is it important?
Simple Project Plan Example
Step-By-Step Guide for Creating a Project plan
Infographic: Project Plan Checklist
This post will show you how to create and maintain a project plan. This post will show you how to use it in your projects.
What is a Project Plan?
A project plan, also known by the Gantt diagram, shows each stage of a project’s progress. It is a roadmap that shows the phases of a project, key activities, their start and end dates, dependencies between tasks, milestones, and other details.
A project plan can be as simple as a note on paper or a few lines in Excel. It is often presented as a Gantt Chart in Microsoft Project or similar planning tools.
What Should a Project Plan Include?
Here are some typical contents of a project planning document:
Phases of a Project
Activities or tasks to be done for each phase
Start and end dates for tasks
interdependencies between tasks
Why project planning is still important
Although once a pride of project managers around the globe, the humble project plan has fallen from grace. In case you’re wondering,
Is a project planning still relevant in the post-waterfall age?
Clients still want answers for questions like,
When will the project be finished?
What is the price?
What will you get?
How will it be delivered?
These seemingly simple questions can prove difficult to answer if the No Project Plan Alternative is chosen. Before signing off, clients need to understand exactly what they are getting. This is not only for clients. To determine if the project is on track, you as a project manager will need the plan. You can’t see if the project is on schedule without a comparison.
Many people still argue that complex IT project plans are a waste. They claim that they don’t reflect reality, that they artificially limit your team’s ability to self-optimize, and that they are constantly out-of-date due to constant changes.
These arguments raise important questions about project planning. Project planning is constantly changing in a fast-paced, digitally-driven industry. Project plans should not be static documents. They should be interactive and understandable by a wide range users.
If done correctly, project plans can bring many benefits for your projects. Here are 7 reasons to keep project planning in mind.
7 reasons why a project plan matters
Here are seven reasons why project plans are the most important piece of project documentation.
A project plan:
Clarifies the process and activities that will lead to the outputs and deliverables for the project.
This information will enable you to accurately estimate and determine the outputs and scope for a project.
This allows you to visualize the entire project as well as the interdependencies among tasks
This tool will allow you to identify who is responsible for what task and when it is completed. It can also help you forecast your resource requirements.
Provides milestones to track project progress (and dates clients can approve).
This allows you track and compare the progress of your project.
Allows for the agreement on the important live date
Before you start your project, create a plan.
These are some things you should remember before you dive in.