We are continuing our column on the different approaches that will help you improve your project management practices. Today, we are going to focus on project planning the heart of the project life cycle.
How to Prepare your Project Plan
Before creating your project plan, there are a couple of things you have to do first.
Step 1: Identify Stakeholders
The first step is to identify the stakeholders in your project and establish their needs. It's not always easy to determine who's involved, which is why we have provided you with a stakeholder analysis matrix, that will help speed up this process.
Then, you have make a list of all of their needs and prioritise each of them.
Here are some examples of stakeholders:
- The customer;
- The project team;
- The supplier;
- Anyone that would be impacted by the change.
Step 2: Establish Goals
Now that you've established their needs and prioritised them, the next step is to create a list of measurable goals.They are the business objectives the project is going to accomplish.
You can use the SMART principle to help you out. Remember, your project objectives must be measurable and contain key performance indicators that will be used later on to assess the success of your project.
Step 3: Define your deliverables
The next step is to figure out how the project is going to meet these goals. You have to specify how the project is going to deliver each goal. This is called a deliverable which is "something produced or provided as a result of a process". You will be able to define your deliverables thanks to a WBS aka Work Breakdown Schedule.
"A Work breakdown structure describes the deliverables needed to complete the project, i.e. the “what” of the project. It doesn’t include timelines or resources. The goal of the WBS is to give the project team a hyper-focused idea of what they need to achieve."
Here is an example of a WBS describing the deliverables needed to complete the project:
Step 4: Define your tasks
Now that you have your list of deliverables, the next step is to define a series of tasks that must be completed to accomplish each deliverable. So, create a list of all the tasks that are going to accomplish each deliverable.
How To Create A Project Plan?
Now that you understand the purpose a project plan and completed these four simple steps, here’s how to actually create one.
This project plan template will give you a head start ( you can always adapt it to your needs).