How to Write a Project Plan or Draft

project plan image by Christopher Hall from Fotolia.com

A project plan is a useful business tool that helps you to scope out the details of your initiative. You can use the plan to create a detailed outline, schedule and budget and ensure that you are set up for success. Be sure to use the project draft format that includes all the information you need to consider.

Understand the Big Picture

Before you begin drafting your project plan, be sure to consider the value of the initiative and how it relates to the overall goals of your organization. Answer these questions:

  • What is it that you’re trying to accomplish?
  • Why is it important to do this project?
  • By when does this project need to be completed?
  • How will this project help the company to achieve its overall goals?
  • From whom do you need to get buy-in to make this project a success?

Outline Project Goals and Key Performance Indicators

Begin your project plan by establishing the goals of the project and identifying the key performance indicators you’re going to use to measure its success. It’s critical to measure your project progress and success level so you can determine whether the project has met its goals and whether it has provided value to the business.

Break Out the Project Scope

Create a detailed scope outline for your project. This is a critical component of your project plan and will help you to ensure your initiative stays on schedule and budget. Your scope should include:

  • All tasks that need to be completed and the deliverables within each task
  • When the tasks need to be completed
  • Who is responsible for completing those tasks
  • Which tasks are dependent on other tasks
  • What ramifications exist for uncompleted tasks

Make a Detailed Schedule

Next, it’s important to create a timeline for your project. How long will each major task take to complete? Be sure to consider tasks that can be done simultaneously versus those that need to be done consecutively. Keep in mind that some tasks will be dependent on other tasks and cannot be completed until those are finished.

Identify Responsibilities and Resources In Your Draft Project Plan

Break out which employees or departments are responsible for specific tasks and deliverables. Confirm that those human resources have the skills, expertise and availability to work on your project. You’ll also need to include any equipment, software, hardware and machinery that is required for your project. Note whether it needs to be purchased, leased or rented and how much it costs.

Allocate the Budget

Your draft project plan needs to include your assigned budget for the initiative. Break it down in terms of how you will be spending your money. Do you need to purchase specialized equipment, or do you need to hire contract workers? Do you need capital up front before starting your project, or will most of your expenses come toward the end?

Figure Out Communication and Collaboration Processes

Communication and collaboration are vital to a project’s success. Outline how your teams will work on the project together. For example, will you create a project team that is physically working together in the same room? Will you purchase project management software that your team can access remotely? Will you have a large whiteboard set up to track the progress of your project?

Anticipate Problems and Solve for Them Early

A project draft sample is only theoretical. When you put it into practice in the real world, things may go wrong. That’s why it’s imperative to anticipate any obstacles you may face. To alleviate your team from scheduling issues, work one or two weeks of buffer into your timeline. This will help keep you on track even if certain tasks are delayed.

Consider holding a percentage of your budget for emergency expenses. That way, if certain equipment needs to be repaired or replaced, you’ll have the funds to see it through. Remember that your team may get sick or take vacation. Have backup staff up to date on project specifics so they can jump in if a colleague is unavailable.

References

About the Author

Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.

Photo Credits

  • project plan image by Christopher Hall from Fotolia.com