As a project manager, you always have plenty of irons in the fire. With a myriad of tasks, resources, dates, and details to juggle, staying organized is imperative.That’s precisely where a solid project work plan comes into play.
In this article, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about developing a work plan that will help you deliver exceptional project outcomes, on time and on budget.
Why you need a project work plan
Before we dig into the “how,” it’s important to understand the “why” behind work plans. A project work plan — sometimes referred to as a project management plan, or PMP — essentially functions to prevent scope creep and budget overreach while making sure the project reaches its stated goals on time. But a good project work plan does more than just define when a project will be delivered; it also addresses how project delivery will be accomplished.
Alongside focusing on project delivery, it's also important to create a project closure report to assess the success levels of your project.
The project work plan, when developed correctly, should account for every foreseeable scenario that could potentially disrupt any project element. Naturally, the plan should also state the corrective actions that will be taken in the event of a disruption or dilemma along the way.
By exhaustively planning the entire project and preparing for all possible impediments to successful delivery, you’ll also help minimize stress and frustration for yourself as well as your team members and project stakeholders.
Finally, the biggest reason you need a project work plan is to maximize your odds of project success.
Studies have found that 25% of tech projects flat-out fail, while up to 25% don’t show any ROI, and 50% need significant reworking upon completion. Obviously, project failures aren’t good for the bottom line — but the truth is that they can also take a toll on employee morale.
This is why it’s critical for PMs to empower themselves, their teams, and their organizations with project work plans that can help guide successful outcomes and keep team members engaged.
The essential ingredients in any project work plan
Just as you can’t bake a cake without the proper ingredients, you can’t build a solid team work plan without the right inputs.
Below is a list of the essential elements you’ll need to put together a complete and thorough project work plan.
- Outline of the project’s business justification and stakeholder needs
- Defined project requirements and objectives
- Statement of project scope — use a project scope statement template if you are unsure
- Comprehensive list of deliverables and approximate due dates
- Detailed project schedule
- Risk assessment and management plan
- Clearly defined roles and responsibilities
- Resource allocation
- Quality assurance plan
- Communication plan
Depending on the specific type of project you’re managing and your organization’s requirements, your plan may need to include additional elements such as:
- A procurement management plan
- A configuration management plan
- Appendices to the project work plan (i.e., approved business case for the project, key terms and acronyms, and the project charter)
Developing your work plan
With the ingredients assembled, it’s time to start developing your work plan. The first step in the development process is to hold a kickoff meeting that brings all stakeholders and team members together and ensures everyone is on the same page prior to project launch.
Topics typically discussed at the project kickoff meeting include:
- Expected outcomes and benefits of the project
- Stakeholder roles and responsibilities
- Communication and reporting plans
- Process and timeline for project completion
Another critical step in the work plan development process is the creation of baselines. Project baselines include the scope, budget, and schedule; without baselines in place, you won’t have anything to measure project performance against.
Finally, you’ll need to create baseline management plans that document how deviations from the original baselines will be handled as the project moves forward. This part of your project work plan includes the procedures you’ll follow in the event of baseline variance, as well as who will be notified and how changes to the budget will be handled.
How to make a work plan
Clearly, there’s a lot that goes into creating and developing a solid project work plan. Using a proven work plan template can help alleviate some of the stress of planning and help ensure you don’t forget any critical components.
It’s also important to remember that project work plans are “living” documents — meaning, they can and will change as the project matures. That’s where a reliable project management platform comes into play. With Wrike, you can easily monitor and manage task progress and resource utilization while staying connected with team members and stakeholders along the way.
Your job as a PM is hectic enough already. See how much simpler it can be when you have the right tools in place — give Wrike a free two-week spin and find out for yourself!