Project managers use project plans to communicate the status of projects to a project team. The project plan consists of tasks, activities, milestones, dependencies and resources required for the successful completion of the project. The project manager creates and maintains the project plan. Some project managers use project management software to maintain their project plans.
Project managers create the project plan initially by loading in the activities required. These activities relate the overall project and assigned to different project team members. Due to the project plan’s iterative nature, project managers can update the project plan throughout the project. The activities form the work breakdown structure when associated with the project schedule and project resources.
The project plan helps organize the different plans that reside within the project plan. The project scope plan outlines the overall scope of the project. The scheduling plan details the timeline of the project and the project start and end dates. This plan also outlines the project phases of the overall project. The cost management plan includes the project budget and inconsistency in the budget details. The quality management plan provides information on the project's operational details. The staffing and communications plans detail resources and when and what communications go out to the organization and project team.
Risk management also details the usefulness of a project plan. According to the Project Management Institute's "Project Management Body of Knowledge," each project has risks. The project plan outlines each risk and enables the project manager to lay out a plan to mitigate risks. Any constraints within the project reside in the risk management plan of the project plan. The project manager can monitor risks in the project plan and notify stakeholders as needed.
The project plan used as a communication tool provides project information throughout the project. By executing the plan, the project manager works alongside the project team to ensure the accurateness of all elements within the plan. Resource management occurs during the execution of the project plan as long as there are budget reviews and procurement activities. The project manager executes and monitors communications and resource allocation. The project manager can also recognize any needed corrective action using the project plan.
Work results and change requests, two outputs of the project plan, help the project manager analyze the work completed and modify the scope of the project. The manager uses quality measures to test the work results to ensure the output’s adequacy. Change requests, related to several different facets of the project often include the project schedule, cost or scope changes, according to author Joseph Phillips' "Project Management Professional Study Guide."