Those who are familiar with the process of project management would agree that it's a lot like storytelling. Every project is like a story that focuses on the objectives, team, timing, and deliverables. Now, to make sure the story unfolds exactly the way you want it to, you need to have a plan.
Just like the stories, some projects can be simple to manage, while others seem like epics, involving too many complexities. Irrespective of the magnitude or complexity of the story, each follows a particular story arc or as it’s referred to in the area of project management, a project plan.
So, without further ado, let’s elucidate on the right steps for creating the perfect project management plan.
Step #1: Know the scope and significance of your project
In essence, the project management plan determines your approach and the method your team will adopt to work on the project. Every project needs a concrete plan.
Not only does a plan help towards maintaining a sense of honesty regarding the scope and deadlines, but a plan also conveys crucial details to all the project stakeholders.
Also, if your plan addresses some essential questions and informs your team and clients on the project logistics, you’re building a solid, strategic game plan for your project.
Step #2: Carry out in-depth research
Even before you proceed with developing a plan, you have to check whether you have all of the crucial facts and figures. Only then you can dive into the documentation and communications related to the project. Elaborate on the scope of work and other important details that come along with it (it might be the notes from meetings with your clients or sales calls) and read them thoroughly.
In the end, you’ll be gaining a thorough understanding of the following.
Your client’s requirements and expectations
The objectives of the project
The decision-making process of clients (i.e., how they’ll review and approve your team’s work)
Step #3: Prepare an outline of the plan
After performing thorough research, you should move on to prepare a rough structure of the project plan based on every detail you've gathered so far.
While this is only the initial draft of the structure, it’ll still be wise for you to finalize as much as possible so that you can skip endless rounds of revisions.
You should also dedicate a section about your research to emphasize the major observations and describe how they influenced your project management plan.
Refine the document, include some branding elements, and you’re ready to share it with your team.
Step #4: Sit down with the team
It’s imperative for Project Managers to be in constant touch with their team members. Communication is an integral element of the project goals and the effort required to meet the same. This is necessary because you don’t want to put yourself or your team in an awkward spot by not reaching a consensus on the approach before pitching your ideas to your client.
There should be a seamless exchange of ideas between you and your team members. So, having an open discussion about the specific approach not just assists you in forming a credible plan, but it also provides the assurance that you and your team members are on the same page. This process of communication is instrumental in developing trust and also builds the enthusiasm among the members about working together to achieve the same goal. The camaraderie will ultimately translate into the work and provide great outcomes.
Step #5: Write down the project plan
When you’ve got all the relevant information you’d require, and you've discussed the project at length with your team members, this is the time to prepare the project plan elaborately. In this case, you can adopt some efficient tools to make the project plan coherent and legible.
Now, reading the elaborate project plan can be boring. So, in order to prevent your readers (especially in this case of your superiors and clients) from skimming your work of art, utilize some formatting skills to make sure tasks, milestones, durations, and dates are specified clearly. Try to put together a simple project plan. Remind yourself, that the simpler it is to read, the better.
Step #6: Review the plan
Once you've carried out your research, had discussions about the plan with your team members, and created your formal project plan, you can ask someone on your team to thoroughly review it before you hand it over to the clients.
There can be no greater embarrassment than being a Project Manager and handing over a plan with errors (e.g. an incorrect date). So, it’s safe to review it before submitting so that you can have your peace of mind.
Step #7: Distribute the project plan
When your plan is ready to be sent out to the clients, stakeholders and everyone else on your team, you’ll have to begin setting your plan into motion.
To stay on the right track, highlight the big milestones first and then focus on how you plan to achieve each one of those by accomplishing smaller targets like daily, weekly, or monthly goals.
After that, it becomes simple to manage the deliverables and convey the same to your team.
Step #8: Always be ready to plan
Sometimes, projects are simple and extremely easy to manage. Other times, they are a complete nightmare that gives sleepless nights. However, with a great team and clear opportunities, you’ll be able to put together a solid plan that is thoughtful and manageable.
If you’re an adaptable Project Manager who can adjust the approach and the plan while highlighting the appropriate risks, you’ll find yourself happy. Otherwise, the rapid developments may cloud your vision, and you’ll concentrate on things that won’t help your team, your stakeholders, your clients or your project.
If you find the process of creating a project management plan to be too intimidating, then you need to follow this guide step-by-step. This way you will no longer feel stressed out about putting together a great project management plan and win the trust of your clients.