Carefully planning the project right from the start is the key to a successful outcome.
The creation of a project plan is, in fact, the first thing that should be done in the case of any project, especially if this is new.
Often, however, this activity is ignored and the focus is straight away on concrete work. There are many people who simply can not understand the value of a project plan and how this can save time, money and problems.
So let’s see how to plan a new project.
What is a project?
A project is defined as a planned set of related activities that have to be performed in a given period of time and within a certain budget and other limits.
The word “planned” is crucial and the effectiveness of the programming has a direct effect on the result of the project.
Each project has a beginning and an end and follows a life cycle divided into various phases.
What is a project plan?
A project plan essentially serves as a roadmap for planning a project that a team will then have to follow.
The goals are defined in this phase and an effective project plan specifies how the various tasks will be performed and by whom. The purpose is precisely that of achieving the desired goal.
Resources are also determined in the project plan.
If effective and well thought out, such a plan is often an essential factor for the success of a project. It serves as a means of communication for the project manager, as well as a control mechanism during project progress.
The roles and responsibilities of project stakeholders are identified and shared, so that they can become familiar with what is expected of them.
The plan provides clarity and agreement even before the concrete and effective start of the work.
Any problems that arise during its drafting can be promptly addressed and eliminated, so that they do not cause problems during the project process.
Identifying key milestones enables team members to prepare to work in order to achieve the goals listed in the project plan and establishes a time frame to complete the tasks.
How to manage the project efficiently and effectively?
The definition of the project management plan serves as a visualization of how the project management will be.
The work breakdown structure determines the end results, together with the dependencies of the activities and the critical path to follow during the project life cycle.
Be careful, however, that planning a project does not necessarily mean that the process will correspond 100% to the initial plan.
Uncertainty is always a common factor in every project. There may be unforeseen situations that can lead the project to go out of its path.
What is important to underline is that the project plans make it possible to prepare for the uncertainties that may arise. As a result, they allow to reduce problems during the project.
An in-depth project plan may seem costly in terms of time and resources, but in the long run, it will save time for both the project manager and the team.
When thinking about how to write a project plan effectively, there are some specific points to consider, including:
- Project vision: project planning and management notes should clearly identify project goals and include a detailed description of the project itself.
- Stakeholders: for who runs the project, if there is a client involved and what he/she and the stakeholders expect from the project.
- Roles and responsibilities: here you should describe who is involved in the implementation of the project and the individual activities with the assigned members.
- Resources: here we include the necessary resources in order to complete the Project; they can refer to human, financial, material or other resources.
- Budget: this should include a breakdown of project costs. This includes salaries, taxes, materials, travels etc. Furthermore, any received funding should also be included in this section.
- Emergency Plan: this plan will identify the way the project will address any problems that arise and that require changes in the project. Planning for potential risks should include an allocation in terms of time and budget.
- Communication plan: this will illustrate how communications will be handled with all stakeholders. It will also indicate the frequency of communication and any marketing or project promotion activities.
- Monitoring plan: here we will specify how to measure the success of the project and what criteria will be followed for its evaluation.
- Document management: this should outline the person, usually the manager, responsible for the conservation and management of project documents .
Following these steps is a great start in order to begin a proper project planning, but that’s not all.
It is fundamental not to forget to update the plan while the project progresses and continuously measures the deviations, if any, with respect to the initial plan.