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How to create a project management plan

Eight steps to building a solid project management plan

Step 1: Identify the goal of the project

Ask yourself these questions to lay the groundwork:

  1. Why are you creating this project?
  2. What’s the goal of it?
  3. How will this affect your stakeholders?
  4. What about your team?

And to help you answer those, make sure you do the following:

Research and homework

  • You may already have a good idea of why you’re creating this project, but it’s essential to back this up with research.
  • How is your company doing things right now? What’s working? What doesn’t work?
  • Are there enough resources available? What else is needed?

Meet with your team for feedback

  • Meet with anyone who could be involved in this project during this stage. Before narrowing things down, be sure to speak with any employees who will be involved in this project.
  • You need to see things from their perspective so you have all your ducks in a row when it comes time to introduce the plan to your stakeholders.
  • Once that’s taken care of, you can then meet your stakeholders with confidence.

Figure out who is a stakeholder

  • Sure, you may have a Board of Directors or some other stakeholders involved, but don’t forget, those aren’t the only people to consider.
  • Your customers and employees may also be stakeholders in this project.
  • In short, anyone who could be affected by these changes is a stakeholder and must be considered as such.

Identify priorities

  • Identify your priorities before moving on to finalizing your goals.

Set clear goals

You’ll need to answer:

  1. What are you hoping to achieve here?
  2. How will you measure that?
  3. What’s considered a success?

Step 2: Map out the scope

What is your budget?

  • Before you create an elaborate project scope that’s out of reach, you need to consider your budget first. And I’m not only referring to your financial investment here.
  • Outline your budget in terms of financial investment, time, and resources needed. Only then will you be able to create a realistic project scope, which is also your next step.

What is your project scope?

  • As with setting goals, it’s important to stretch your project to the right limits. You don’t want to go so far that your team can’t reach its targets, yet you also don’t want to create a project that doesn’t accomplish much.
  • To help strike the right balance, create a project scope that is crystal clear and outlines all of the details — both big and small.
  • Your project scope should also include your deliverables and the deliverable schedule.

What are your deliverables?

  • Everyone on your team should know what needs to be delivered and when. By spelling this out in your project scope, you’ll do just that.
  • Not only does this deliverables list create a workflow everyone can follow, it also helps keep everyone on track.
  • You’ll also show stakeholders or clients what they can expect, which naturally builds accountability into your project management plan.

What is your deliverable schedule?

  • If your research uncovered that the task takes 2 weeks to complete, it’s not a good idea to only give your team a few days and hope everything somehow falls into place within a shorter time frame.
  • It’s also smart to add a buffer to any areas you’re not sure of, just to be safe. This gives your project and your team the breathing room needed to get the job done correctly.
  • Now that you have all of this sketched out, you’re ready to create the first draft of your project plan.

Step 3: Develop an outline or plan

In this outline, including the project’s:

  1. “Why”
  2. Goals
  3. Stakeholders
  4. Budget
  5. Scope
  6. Deliverables
  7. Deliverable schedule

Step 4: Share this initial idea with your team

Before you get too excited and send your document to every one of your stakeholders, you need to finalize it with your team beforehand.

So in this stage, hold a kickoff meeting to:

  • Explain the ins and outs of the project
  • Let your team know what’s expected of them and when
  • Work out any kinks that may come up

Step 5: Finalize your plan

Using the feedback from your team, you’re ready to finalize your plan.

This official plan will be the one you’ll send to stakeholders so it’s important to take your time here.

You should also add a section about any issues that may come up, including how you plan to handle them.

The best way to display this type of information, both internally and externally for stakeholders, is through a Gantt chart.

Step 6: Use a Gantt chart to keep things organized

If you have Excel, you can use this free Gantt Chart template to create a timeline of deliverables.

Source

This helpful tracker ensures that both your team and stakeholders know what to expect and when.

As the project unfolds, keep this updated throughout the day so anyone can see where your project presently stands.

Once you’ve finished creating your project management plan and created a timeline using a Gantt chart, you can finally share your plan with everyone.

Step 7: Distribute your project management plan

When your plan is ready to send out to stakeholders and everyone else on your team, you’ll be able to answer questions and start putting your plan.

To stay on track, plot out the big milestones first and then how you plan to achieve each one using smaller targets, such as daily, weekly, or monthly goals.

After that, you’re simply managing deliverables and your team.

Step 8: Hold a project post mortem

This is similar to a kickoff meeting except that it happens after a project has finished.

your goal is to find out how your project went from start to finish

  • Did you run on schedule?
  • If there were any milestones missed, what caused the delay? Can that be prevented for the next one?
  • Are there any other issues you ran into?

You should also compare how your results fared with your initial plan.

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