What Are the Essential Parts of a Project Plan?
Every business confronts problems and takes steps to address them. The solution to some problems requires only a single person with a limited budget. When systemic problems crop up that call for larger budgets and the participation of multiple staff members, it typically calls for a project plan to flesh out the nature of the problem and detail the solution. The structure of project plans varies across industries to accommodate specific needs, but all project plans contain several essential parts.
Scope statements represent a kind of agreement among project stakeholders. It presents a general overview about the parameters of the problem, justification of the project and objectives. If, for example, a business uses outdated computer hardware that cannot accommodate newer software, the scope statement identifies this as the problem. The statement specifies why the business requires the ability to use the newer software and how the project aims to solve the problem with new hardware.
The objections portion of the plan sets out the specific goals and any deliverables of the project. If hardware upgrades for software use represents the general goal, the specific goal might read as installation of new processors and graphics cards to employ next-generation 3D model rendering software.
The resources element of the plan includes material, financial and human resources. It needs to set out what physical products and physical space the project requires. The number of staff and the requisite skill sets of staff members need to appear here. This portion of the plan should also lay out the expected costs of physical resources, salaries and any workspace.
The risks sections should note any factors that might hinder or derail the project to allow for risk management. If pending ordinance changes would increase costs for a building project, noting it in the risk section allows the business to seek exemption status ahead of time.
Minimally, the project plan must include a project schedule that specifies milestones and an estimation of project duration. The plan may also set out detailed work requirements for major milestones, typically in a spreadsheet. Schedules should seek to accommodate unforeseen events by building in a time buffer.
The evaluation section sets out the criteria for determining project success. This can include a basic checklist such as meeting the project schedule, staying under budget and filing progress reports. Returning to the computer hardware example, an evaluative measure might be that all upgraded computers can run a specific software suite.