A new project? A plan helps define objectives, tools, and resources to be put in place and outlines the contract terms. The project plan or project plan is placed in the first planning phase and constitutes the actual moment in which the project takes shape. It is an official document, subject to approval, which describes the project objectives and the elements necessary to achieve them.
The project plan is a term that sometimes needs to be clarified in project management, especially when this definition means temporal planning. This is only one component of a much larger and more complex analysis. The project plan considers at least the following points:
- the objectives of the project
- the technical specifications
- the activities to be carried out
- the resources involved
- the necessary times
- the expected costs
- the potential risks
- the quality of the product or service to be created
Let’s think of a project plan to construct a shopping center. In addition to the necessary planning, costs and construction specifications, it could contain valuable analyzes of the risks associated with the reactions of the neighboring population.
In addition, it could consider the structure’s environmental impact and list the necessary measures to ensure the quality and sustainability of the project. In essence, a project plan includes what is needed to best capture the project’s nature, structure and implications.
Alongside this defining aspect, the project plan also has value in managing and controlling a project. Starting from the document or set of documents that make up the project plan, we can retrieve all the information to set up the execution of the works, coordinate the various resources and check progress.
It is, therefore, a reference plan to verify, during the execution process, the deviations of the partial results about the foreseen objectives. It is clear that a project plan must be shared among the resources who actively participate in the project to function better as a coordination tool. One way to effectively disseminate plan content is to draft it collaboratively, involving the help in preparing the documents and delivering the approved decisions.
However, the project plan is very complex, and some parts are confidential. In that case, it is possible to establish “who can see what” by disseminating only the necessary information in a targeted way. Developing a project plan takes time. The project manager may have the temptation or even the “suggestion” to overlook the planning phase more quickly to reach the executive stage.
In reality, the success of a project, and full compliance with the established constraints, largely depends on the quality of the project plan and its dissemination. The construction of a project plan usually starts with the project manager with the contribution of the first people involved (the client and the sponsor can also be part of this first group).
Following the initial definition of the activities, the project manager can affect other people and specific skills. Therefore, it is clear that the drafting of the plan must be carried out in multiple orders. Instead, it is a continuous process of revision and completion to achieve a balance or final understanding.
he project plan must convince everyone: managers, active resources, clients, and sponsors. The final result must be an agreement that leaves no room for decisional, relational and operational ambiguities. If there are open issues, they will have to be foreseen and dealt with in due course in a conventional manner.
The project plan, while being a map for the project manager, is not an immutable document. The initial analyzes and programming established in the program can be modified along the way. It is possible that following certain events, correcting some aspects is necessary to achieve the expected objectives.
Let’s think of the impact a chain of unexpected strikes can have on the execution times of a project. To cope with the delay, it could act on costs to employ more resources, decrease the scope of the objectives or agree on a new project end date with the client.
Changes to planning, in any case, will have to pass an approval process before entering a new version of the plan and being translated into operational guides. The content of a project plan can be more or less detailed, and its size can vary from project to project. However, its purpose remains valid, which, regardless of the context, must always be apparent in the mind of those who draw up the plan. In summary, a project plan serves to:
- define a project
- agree with the clients
- plan, manage and control the project
- communicate with resources
- assess risks and contingencies
With this article, we have examined the main characteristics of the Project Plan without considering its concrete structure or the tools to implement it, things that will be the subject of further investigation.
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