Why is a project plan necessary?

The purpose of the project management plan (PMP) is to document the outcomes of the planning process and to provide the reference document for managing the project. The project management plan is owned by the Project Manager.

A project is an organised set of activities to bring about change and achieve specific objectives. An effective project plan will help you break down resourcing, communicating, influencing, and coordinating tasks to deliver a successful project.

A project plan should be used throughout your project and is an excellent tool to keep your project on track. If you set it up correctly at the start of the project and update it as you go along then you will be able to:

  • understand the impact of any changes (particularly on cost and timescales)
  • produce project reports quickly
  • have an easy reference point for all previous project activities, and
  • answer questions about the project with confidence

What should you include?

The PMP documents the ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘when’, ‘how’, ‘where’, ‘who’, ‘how much’ and ‘what if’ of the project.

Description  Detail 
What Detail of the project scope, resulting from the information gathered for the Business Case, and additional detail from the product breakdown and work breakdown structure and success criteria.
Why  The benefits that will be delivered as a result of carrying out the project.
When  The Project Schedule, often in the form of a Gantt Chart, which shows the project tasks, when they will happen, the time they will take, the resources required and the dependencies between the different tasks. Key milestones should also be shown.

The ‘How’ will cover the various strategies or plans for the project, including:

Where  The location of the various teams involved in the project.
Who  The project organisation structure and responsibility matrix.
How much The financial management (.pdf) for the project, including project budget, cashflow, cost codes.
What if  The risk and issue management for the project.

Your project plan should be a road map of the project, detail is important as you want this to be a document that you and others can refer to at any point during the project to give them a clear picture of where the project is at.

Part one: Project start up

An effective project plan needs to define the project at the initial approval stage, i.e. the Project Mandate. Areas to consider are:

Part two: Clarify the scope of the project

Your project mandate should give you a good idea regarding the scope and impact of your project; part two is where you get down to the detail of your project. This process relies on you to be able to accurately estimate time, costs and resources so remember to refer to the roles and responsibilities document for support. Areas to consider are:

Part three: Project closure

Although this marks the end of the project it still needs to be included in the plan. It is key that you are prepared for how the project will be embedded into the everyday business of the University and it is the Project Manager’s responsibility to ensure this is a smooth transaction. Areas to consider are:

  • Embed project outcomes as business as usual process integration and staff training
  • Inform all stakeholder
  • Benefits realisation; how and why was your project successful
  • Lessons learned log: what have you learnt from this process and what would you do differently
  • Closure Report template
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