Every project narrates a story about its objectives, timing, team, and deliverables—and it needs comprehensive project planning and management to get the story right. Some stories are straightforward, while others are epic novels filled with unprecedented twists and turns.
No matter the level of drama or length, every story is based on an outline or a story arc—or, as we refer to it in the project management world, a project plan. In this post, we'll walk you through the crucial elements that you should include in your project plan.
But first, let’s take a look at what a project plan is.
A project plan is a culmination of meticulous planning by a project manager. It defines the project’s goals and objectives, specifies tasks and how they will be undertaken, identifies the resources that will be needed, and the associated budgets and timelines for completion. A project plan is usually represented in the form of a Gantt chart to make it easy to ensure that work stays on track.
A good project plan is one of the most vital components of project management. It helps prevent, among other things, overblown budgets, missed deadlines, and scope creeps.
Although project plans vary from company to company, there are some critical elements that should be incorporated in every project plan to avoid forced improvisation and confusion during the execution phase of the project. Below is an outline of some of these elements:
Whereas project goals are usually defined in a project charter, they should also be included in the project plan as well to further explain the goals of the project. Regardless of how the project manager decides to incorporate the goals into the project plan, the crucial thing is to maintain a clear link between the project charter (the project's first key documents) and the project plan (the project's second key document).
By defining the project scope, the project manager can begin to show the project's goal and what the finished product would look like in the long run. Failure to define the project scope can lead to it getting expanded throughout the project and result in cost overrun and missed deadlines.
For instance, if you want to conduct interior design for a building project, you need to determine the extent of the design so that it meets the project requirement. You can even go further to furnish your team with a blueprint of how the finished product might look like.
Define all work tasks and who will be undertaking various tasks in a project. Also, you should ensure that you break those tasks into sub-tasks so as to have a granular view of all the work needed to complete the project successfully. This includes the work of all the teams in the project. For instance, suppose you are creating a construction project plan—you'll need to define the work tasks of various teams in the project, including the design team, engineering team, and general contractors and sub-contractors.
Most often, in a project, there are always relationships between tasks. This relationship is referred to as a task link or task dependencies. Defining the relationship between tasks helps you determine which tasks should be completed first, as well as when the project will be completed.
In any project, there is always a sequence with which tasks are completed—on-premise software can't be configured until it is installed, a wall can't be built until it has a foundation. Whenever there is a dependency between tasks, there will always be a successor and a predecessor task. While sequencing may seem mundane, it can lead to project delays and wasted labor hours if done incorrectly. Defining the relationship between tasks will ensure that the project progresses smoothly.
Technology selection represents a vital decision in the early stages of a project. It can have a substantial impact on the project's economic viability—choosing the wrong technology may derail the progress of your project. As such, you need to exercise caution when selecting technology for your project. Your project plan should outline the tasks to be completed and which technologies will complete those tasks efficiently and in good time.
When it comes to resource allocation in project planning, you need to break down and allocate your team's time, budget, and resources effectively. Identify all available resources and estimate their costs and contribution. Next, consider resource limitations and how much time each resource can realistically devote to this project. Also, ensure that you determine the best combinations or variations of the available resources to attain the project's goal in good time and with the best possible results.
A project plan should estimate the duration that each task will take to complete. This is critical both for determining a budget after formulating the strategic plan and ensuring that the sequencing of various work tasks makes sense. Remember that while some tasks may be afforded an overlap, other tasks need to be completed sequentially. Accurately assessing duration will lead to more efficiency.
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At GigOver, we help you stay on budget, scope, and time across all projects, with no exception. Try out the software for free, and experience the ultimate convenience in your project management.