The successful execution of any project depends primarily on how well planned it is. Yet, it is still largely ignored by teams as it is seemingly time-consuming. However, without a proper project plan, you will not only waste time in the long run, but the project execution will also face unexpected setbacks and require more money. That is why it is essential to have a comprehensive plan before you start working on any project.
It is also the reasons why businesses invest in project management services. In this article, we are going to outline all the important steps that go into creating an effective project plan. Keep reading to learn about successful project executions below!
Setting Project Goals
Goal setting is always the first step of any successful project plan. The stakeholders play a critical role in this step because they define the needs and requirements of the project. Stakeholders are all the people and companies that are directly or indirectly affected by the completion of the project.
First of all, you will have to identify all the stakeholders in your project. Sometimes it can become challenging to identify all the stakeholders of a project, especially if they are indirectly involved and affected. Common examples of stakeholders include:
- Project sponsors
- Customers who use the deliverables
- The project team and managers
- Project output users
After you have a clear understanding of the stakeholders of your project, you will have to identify all their needs. You can do this by interviewing the stakeholders. Make sure you ask questions and get all the information that you need to have a clear idea of the requirements and benefits of the project for each stakeholder.
You will also have to determine which of the needs mentioned by the stakeholders are relevant to the project and which ones aren’t. This will help you create a needs list with tasks divided into high and low priority. Once you have the list of high priority needs, you need to use it to set measurable goals.
One excellent method of setting and achieving measurable goals is to use the SMART principle. It is a highly effective technique, and you will find it easier to identify the achievement of your goals. After the setting and prioritization of all the goals, you must record them in your project plan. Consider including the needs of the stakeholders as well.
Defining Project Deliverables
After you have set project goals and identified all the needs, the second step is to list down the things that need to be delivered in order to meet the project goals. Be sure to mention how and when each of the needs will be delivered.
Then add all the deliverables to your project plan along with their estimated delivery dates. You can modify these delivery dates when you get to the scheduling phase as you will have a more accurate idea by then.
Scheduling the project
Scheduling is another essential aspect of framing the perfect project plan. For that, you need to make a list of tasks that are to be performed for achieving each deliverable specified in the previous step.
Here’s what you need to determine for each of the tasks:
- The amount of time required for the completion of each task
- The resources responsible for carrying out each of the tasks
When you determine how much time and effort each task completion will require, you can then easily determine how much effort would go into each deliverable. This will help you determine a delivery date accurately.
Consider using software like Microsoft Project to schedule your project. You can also try several free templates available online. All you will have to do is input your tasks, deliverables, due dates, and the resources required for the completion of the tasks.
One of the common problems that arise at this point is when the sponsor’s deadline doesn’t match with the time duration estimated by you. If you think there’s no way to meet the deadline given by the sponsor, you must contact them right away. You can do one of the following things to address this issue:
- Negotiate a new deadline with the sponsor
- Use additional resources/increase the cost.
- Decrease the scope or deliverables of the project
Create Supporting Plans
In this step, you will have to create supporting plans for your project execution. You can also include them in your main plan. Let’s take a look at each of these plans in detail below!
Effective communication is essential for the successful execution of any project plan. For that, create a file with the names of all the people who have to be kept updated about the project along with the method of sending that information to them. Common practices include a weekly or monthly status report submission with all the information related to the progression of the project.
Human Resources Plan
Human resources plan is important for identifying the individuals and companies responsible for the completion of the project. Create a document with their names and contact information along with their assigned roles and responsibilities. Then, mention the number of people required for the completion of the project overall. Make sure to include the details about estimated durations, start dates, resources, and methods that will be used for task completion. Ensure that all of this information is fed into a single sheet.
Risk Management Plan
Risk management plans are mostly ignored by project management teams even though they are extremely important for ensuring the timely completion of a project. You need to identify risks beforehand and come up with ideas to prevent them.
When you follow all the steps that we explained in detail above, you will have created a fool-proof project plan. Keep updating your plan as your project progresses.
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