8 Tips for a Successful Project Plan

Imagine you are in charge of the project. What kind of project manager would you be? Would you be one of the daredevils who like to jump right into the project and figure things out as they go along, or a control freak, for whom planning is everything?

We say a balance of both makes a successful project manager. One who takes calculated risks but has a systematic approach to taking risks and implementing the project.

In short, a good project manager always has a plan and is ever ready to take on any unexpected risk.

Talking about the project plan, let us first understand what exactly is a project plan – 

A project plan is the heart of a project. It is a formal document that defines how a project will be carried out, who all will be involved, what will be the deliverables, budget, scope, and timeline.

A project plan consists of the following documents:

  • Project Charter – It gives an overview of the project. It throws light on the purpose of the project, its goals, objectives, constraints, and stakeholders.
  • Statement of Work – It is the document that defines project scope, schedule, deliverables, milestones, and tasks.
  • Work Breakdown structure – As the name suggests it shows the breakdown of the project into phases, subprojects on the basis of deliverables, and work packages that cumulatively form the final deliverable.
  • Project Plan – The project plan is a document consisting of sessions like – scope management, quality management, risk assessment, resource management, stakeholder management, schedule management, and the change management plan.

How to write a project plan – 

  1. Identifying all the stakeholders, defining scope, deliverables, and requirements of the project
  2. Identifying the project team and deciding the roles & responsibilities
  3. Identifying risks and constraints
  4. Setting goals and prioritizing tasks
  5. Define deliverables
  6. List required resources like types of equipment, funds, and material
  7. Creating project schedule
  8. Creating project documents 

One might wonder, why project plans fail if everything is taken into account. The reason being one often forgets small details that lead the plan to its doom. The probable reasons for a project to fail are – 

  1. Unrealistic expectations and project timelines
  2. Wrong person for the wrong job
  3. Not knowing when to discontinue a plan that is not working
  4. Too many cooks spoil the broth. Similarly, too many heads giving opinions spoils the project. 
  5. Lack of well-defined leadership and clarity in direction
  6. Lack of communication between the team
  7. Miscalculating the risks and wrong anticipation

Here are a few tips to avoid the common pitfalls and make your project a success. 

  1. Documentation is a skill and requires a careful selection of words to avoid any discrepancies. Hence a well-articulated document mentioning all the details of the plan supported by facts becomes important for a well-executed project.
  2. Any project is driven by humans, hence the leader should be considerate of others and understand the limitations of human abilities and emotions.
  3. Communication can help build bridges in a day. A project manager should communicate openly with the internal and external stakeholders in case of any bottlenecks. This will help resolve the issue faster and effectively.
  4. Giving a certain level of autonomy and freedom to make decisions helps boost the confidence and morale of the team and increases their productivity.
  5. Ideally, every project should have only one final approval authority. This will avoid commotion caused by multiple stakeholders giving their suggestions or feedback and creating a mess out of the project.
  6. Practicing micro-planning that is planning each day to have a smooth workflow and defined responsibilities assigned to the team members avoids confusion and stagnancy.
  7. Sometimes a plan does not work so dropping that plan and starting from scratch saves time, cost, and effort.
  8. Identifying the best fit for a certain task, choosing the wrong resources for the work will leave the employees feeling demotivated and the work not being up to the mark.

The project planning process is a meticulous task and project management is a wide term, encompassing multiple aspects of a project. To help understand the scope, nature, and the importance of project management, MIT School of Distance Education has come up with a Post Graduate Diploma in Project Management wherein industry experts share their experiences and views on handling a project successfully and impart their valuable tips to become a successful project manager.