What is a Project Management Plan?
Contracts have been signed, hands have been shaken, and a new project is officially underway, with you at the helm. But when it comes to planning a new project, you may not know exactly where to begin. What is a project management plan? How do you accurately predict how long tasks will take? How do you translate stakeholder expectations into concrete deliverables? What if something goes wrong? Your project management plan is the key to a successful project, with minimal stress. Follow these steps to create a thorough project management plan, and execution will be much smoother.
Meet With Project Stakeholders
Meet with project sponsors and key stakeholders to define their needs and expectations and establish project scope, budget, and timeline. Remember, stakeholders include anyone who’s affected by your project, including customers and end users.
Define Goals & Deliverables
Now that you understand stakeholders' needs, boil them down into specific project goals and prioritize them. Then identify the deliverables you need to produce in order to meet those goals. You can then estimate due dates for each deliverable before finalizing deadlines when you sit down to create your project schedule.
Create Your Project Schedule
What tasks need to be completed in order to produce each deliverable? Who will be responsible for completing them? What resources are necessary? Do certain tasks need to be completed before others can begin? It’s a good idea to involve your team in some of the planning process, since they have important insight into how work actually gets done, how long each task will take, and who on the team is best suited for a particular task. Once you have an estimated schedule, you can input all your deliverables, dependencies and milestones into a Gantt Chart to see a visual timeline and get a better understanding of how your project will progress.
Complete a Risk Assessment
No project is completely risk-free. What issues do you know will affect your project? What unexpected circumstances could cause problems? Can you prevent certain risks from happening, or limit their impact on your work? Conducting a risk assessment is a good way to prepare for the unknown and keep your project on track, even if a problem does occur.
Plan a Project Kickoff Meeting
A project kickoff meeting is where you get your team together to establish roles and responsibilities, the logistics of team communication, decide which tools you'll use, an so on. Setting the right tone from the start help your team motivated, energized, and focused. This infographic contains tips on hosting a successful project kickoff:
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