The project plan (also “Project Management Plan”) forms the basis of practically every project. The document brings together all the plans necessary for the realization of a successful project. It is like a road-map that the project manager creates at the beginning of the process which can be detailed as needed.
Each project should be based on a project plan. The Project Management discipline does not, however, clearly show which documents it must include. In this article, we will discussand guide about why it is important.
Why project planning with milestones is important?
Preparing a project plan in advance is advisable for projects of any size. When creating a project plan, the question of how to achieve the project goal in the shortest possible time is automatically addressed, avoiding risks and ensuring efficient use of resources. During the planning phase, possible problems and solutions are anticipated, allowing you to react quickly during the execution phase.
The document can also inform customers and project partners, as it provides an overview of the individual work steps and allows them to check whether the planning takes into account all their needs. If not, you can promptly adjust the schedule before starting with the actual execution of the project.
As a rule, a project plan is approved in advance by the project partners and serves as a binding basis for the subsequent process. Consequently, it must be drafted at the beginning of the planning phase.
The written plan also serves the project manager as a work tool that helps him maintain an overview during the project and meet deadlines and budget.
The plan should be detailed enough to allow the project manager to pass his activities to a new manager smoothly. However, for the latter to quickly become familiar with the project, the plan must not contain too much secondary information. The general rule is: comprehensive but as short as possible.
7 key questions for project planning with milestones
It is not necessary to create numerous and different partial documents for each project. For smaller projects, it is often sufficient to prepare answers to the following 7 key questions in advance:
1.What is the initial situation of the project? What does the initial situation look like, and what other information is needed to fully assess it?
2.What is the economic benefit of the project, and when is the return on investment (ROI)expected?
3.What is the desired outcome of the project? What is the main purpose of the project? What should characterize the final result?
4.Who is involved in the project? Who are the stakeholders? Who should actively participate in the project team, and what roles should individual team members assume?
5.How should the project be structured? What are the tasks to be performed? How to divide the project into work packages and components? What are the existing risks in the individual areas, and how can they be mitigated?
6.By when should the project goal be achieved? By when do the individual phases of the project have to be completed so that the project can be completed on schedule?
7.How much can the project cost? What resources are available, and how should they be distributed among individual work packages?
If you want to create individual plans for various aspects of your project, you can use our templates, such as the WBS and the project execution plan.
What tools are needed to create a project plan?
A simple project plan that concisely answers the key questions above can be easily created without complex software using a spreadsheet in Excel or any other calculation software.
For broader planning and to create individual documents, you can use specialized project management software such as MS Project or online tools such as Smartsheet, Trello, or Wrike.
A good project plan doesn’t have to be broad. A decisive factor for its quality is that it covers the most important aspects of project planning and provides guidance on the timing of the individual phases.