Embarking on a new project can be fun and exciting, but it can also be overwhelming and tedious. Usually, there are many details involved, deadlines to meet and various people engaged at different times. Developing a high-level plan to guide the project along can be extremely valuable to keep the process on track for a successful outcome.

Why Plan?

Project planning helps give companies a more complete picture and prepare for any upcoming challenges. It helps managers address issues such as time, cost, labor, measures of progress and whether the project is even viable. It gives teams information and a better understanding of the scope involved. Effective planning is the foundation of a project and can be the reason why it ultimately succeeds or fails. A high-level plan also helps stakeholders to understand the project deliverables more clearly so there is a common understanding for expectations.

Project plans are in place to manage change. It's important to have a project manager who can lead a team and follow the course in a dynamic and sometimes unpredictable business environment. There are many moving parts and bringing onboard a trained leader to help guide the project to its desired endpoint is critical for success.

What's in a High-Level Project Plan?

A project plan is a management document that helps everyone on the team understand what is happening. It covers what is required, how it is done, who does what and when things will happen. A common way to display the project scope deliverables is to create a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) diagram. A WBS is beneficial, especially if a project is not complex, because it helps organize projects by breaking down bigger tasks into work packages that can be measured. Project leaders can then make more accurate resource estimates and workflow can be more efficient.

Why Agility Matters

Agile is a current trend that many companies are embracing. This method is particularly helpful for startups because of its flexibility and departure from traditional project management, which is more rigid. It has a focus on flat hierarchies and provides more freedom for team members. When companies focus on agility, leaders want the company to be nimble and responsive to all possibilities when it comes to driving their business forward. Agile first came from the software development industry but has now become a common method of project management. It involves breaking a project into a series of steps, rapidly testing work, making adjustments and holding regular progress meetings.

Regardless of how you actually develop your high-level plan, companies that are serious about executing on their vision need to engage in project planning. Ultimately, it can keep you on time, within your budget and help accomplish the company's goals.