Posted by: Gilad Lev-Shamur | December 31, 2009

Creating a project plan will guide you through the jungle

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The feeling I have in the early days of a new project is of excitement, especially if its scope include new technology, new and demand targets or any other challenges which add spice to the routine work. If I am really excited, I start imagine Gantt and flow charts all around me (but this is my problem).

I am sure (I did not check it statistically, but it seems reasonable unless you are in the wrong job) that every project manager wants his project’s success, and directs his efforts to this goal. The problem is that we sometime start thinking on technical solutions and run our schedule software before we ask ourselves: how are we going to manage this project?

The most critical process a project manager must handle is creating the project management plan.

The PMBOK define the project management plan as” a formal, approved document that defines how the project is executed, monitored and controlled. It may be a summary or detailed and may be composed of one or more subsidiary management plans and other planning documents”

Starting project without project plan is like entering the jungle without a map. The project plan is the guide for the project team, setting them the boundaries and clearly defined them the rules of the game. The project plan is the document which actually explains how you are going to design, execute and close this project.  

The project management plan is created in the planning phase. It is a live document that we need to keep update during the project life. Part of the plan sections are:

  • Project team members
  • Assumptions and constrains
  • Roles and responsibilities – one of the most critical sections. Clear definitions will prevent future problems.
  • Scope management plan – scope, deliverable, scope changes procedure
  • Time management plan – schedule, schedule problems solutions
  • Cost management plan – estimated costs, funding resources, change orders process, additional budget request procedures
  • Risk management plan – pointing major risks, risk identification and analysis process
  • Recourse management plan – describe the needed resources
  • Procurement management plan – specifying the purchase process approach and potential vendors.
  • Quality management plan –quality targets, standards and procedures
  • Communication management plan – describe the meetings, reports and technology we will use in the project.

You should not create the project management plan document just for high budget, long schedule projects. You should devote the appropriate time for planning even for small projects (as one of my managers told me: it’s sometime easier to manage large Greenfield project that few small projects in exist and operated building).

You should adjust the details in your plan according to the project complexity, but never skip on this process or you will be lost in the project jungle.

If you are working in large company, they probably have some project management templates that can help you create it. If not, you can find plenty of material in the web (the Project Management Templates post from the pmtips blog gathered few)

Good luck!

Gilad

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