Writing a detailed project management plan or process involves documenting the steps and tasks required to create a product or service. Your action plan should describe the complete project with all phases, starting with initiation and continuing through monitoring, execution, controlling and closure, recommends the Project Management Institute. Include an overview and details about the scope, schedule, costs and quality. You should also list the project team members, communication strategy, risks, purchase processes and techniques for managing change.
Using a Template
Though you can create your own format, it is often easier to start with an existing design. Download a template from a website such as Microsoft Office, PM Docs or PM Links. Using a template ensures that you cover all of the required topics and maintain consistency with each project. Additionally, a template reminds you to identify the people who will approve your plan, allocate funding and provide resources.
The overview statement is used to describe the situation. For example, list the business conditions that triggered the need for the project. This might include customer feedback, competitor plans or investor requirements. Create sections for the scope, schedule and budget. These sections provide specifics about the product or service you plan to create, project milestones, how many people you need to work on the project and the budget constraints. Create a section that describes your quality management process and includes a quality assurance strategy and quality control initiatives. By documenting the process you plan to follow, you are telling all team members what they need to do to accomplish the project's goals and objectives.
List project team members, their roles and responsibilities, and time commitments in supporting sections. Additionally, describe the communication strategy that will be followed, such as completing weekly status reports and running monthly meetings. For example, you could include a table indicating what you want each team member to work on. Include the task in the first column and document the status in the second column, such as not started, in progress, completed or delayed. Add space for an additional comment in a third column.
Finally, describe plans to handle any potential risks, such as supplier delays or additional stakeholder requirements. Define purchase processes and list techniques for managing change, including who gets to approve adjustments to the plan.
Once your plan is finished, review the details with the project team. Incorporate their feedback before distributing it to your stakeholders for approval. After the plan is approved, begin working your way through the steps. Keep team members informed of the progress, following the procedure in your communication strategy. As work continues, evaluate your efforts so that you can incorporate techniques you learn into your next project.
- Don't let the apparent complexity get you down. This format allows you to break down a huge mission into individually digestible pieces.
- Don't blow off this step. Doing that will eventually cause a mission failure. Be ready for anything and include contingencies in the plan.
Tara Duggan is a Project Management Professional (PMP) specializing in knowledge management and instructional design. For over 25 years she has developed quality training materials for a variety of products and services supporting such companies as Digital Equipment Corporation, Compaq and HP. Her freelance work is published on various websites.