Master plan & master planning

master plan

A master plan is a long-term dynamic planning document that provides a conceptual framework to drive project development and growth.

Successful project managers are masters at creating comprehensive project plans that define project scope, cost, planning, activities and resources.

A Master Plan reflects a vision set in the early stages of a project and aims to bring everyone on the same page and move everyone in the same direction.

A master plan outlines the expectations for everything that will be achieved during the project lifecycle.

However, some people do not believe that the master plan holds real value and consider it more of a luxury rather than a necessity, especially in these times when we try to maximize our work schedule.

However, a good master plan is key to any long-term project. This is why:

  • The master planning provides a road map for all future project development decisions.
  • The master plan, even if seen by some as an additional cost, can eventually lead to savings in the long run.
  • The master plan allows the involvement of all parties concerned in advance and sets out expectations on how the various activities and tasks will be developed.
  • A master plan approval creates “buy-ins” by the main stakeholders in a project. If everyone gives their “blessing” at the outset, there will be much less chance to ask questions or step back later.
  • A master plan allows you to estimate costs before the actual work begins. This also allows you to raise funds for a longer period of time to fund your project.
  • General planning can create visibility and credibility for a project. If a project’s vision can be presented to its potential users, it often generates excitement about its potential and this often drives a project and helps it to happen sooner.
  • Projects that have a planned master plan generally have a higher completion rate than unplanned projects.

Master plan development process

Here are some typical elements for a good project master plan:

Feasibility study

A feasibility study is an objective review of the options available for a project development.

Indica l’obiettivo previsto è raggiungibile, tenendo conto degli aspetti finanziari, sociali e ambientali.

Strategic framework

The strategic framework goes hand in hand with the master plan and sets the basis for establishing basic information about possible opportunities and constraints.

In the strategic planning phase, the team also determines what key competencies are needed to develop the project in general.

master planning

Project scope

A project master plan is designed to ensure that the project scope baseline is maintained and consistent.

The established scope shall not be inadvertently altered or modified.

Although the goal is to make minimal or no changes to the project scope, some changes may still be necessary.

In this case, changes will be determined through the change control process set out in the master plan.

Work Breakdown Structure

The Work Breakdown Structure, WBS, is a hierarchical breakdown of the work and activities that must be executed by the team to achieve project objectives and create the required deliverables.

The WBS organizes and defines the total scope of the project and splits the work into smaller, more manageable parts.

Phases closure and lessons learned

At the end of each phase of the project life cycle, the project manager will draft a report detailing the lessons learned.

This includes an analysis of the project objectives achieved and the success of each completed phase.

These best practices can then be used for other similar projects and identify areas for process improvement.

Closing activities include reviewing all of the goals and objectives of the phase and closing problems and related risks.


Ultimately, we can say that the master planning is the first key step in any design process; it is the creation of a framework in which the work of the entire project will be embedded.

One of the dangers of any large-scale project is the number of people, or even teams, working together to achieve a specific goal.

This diversity and number of people involved can be an obstacle and could lead to a reduced success of the final product.

The master plan helps precisely to overcome this type of problem by providing a unique point of reference that everyone can follow.

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