Project Planning

You’ve asked:
How can we become more efficient?
How can we control scope creep?
How do we maintain document quality under time pressure?

How can we best manage the whole project team?

These four questions all have multiple answers – but the core answer in all of them is better project planning.

A project without a plan is a ship without a rudder: you might reach your destination, but it won’t be in a straight line, and it will take longer and cost more.

A good project plan informs the client and all members of the team as to what they can expect from you. That will involve negotiation with all affected parties. Good project plans are as simple – or as complex – as the projects they control.

The example below is about the simplest Project Schedule you could devise – completely adequate for small and even some medium-sized projects, as long as planning by project stages is an appropriate methodology. What this template does not include is a WBS – Work Breakdown Schedule – that shows the budget items for each activity. You can download this PowerPoint-based tool here.

The most important aspects of a project plan are:

  • The work breakdown structure (WBS), which defines the services you’re providing,
  • Defining what happens when the scope changes, as it always will, and
  • The plan must be developed in some detail – but not necessarily finished – in order to write a fee proposal.

Some firms try to limit scope change with lists of exclusions. These are usually a mistake – they are very negative, and the firm will end up owning anything it didn’t exclude. A much better approach is to define what IS included, and how variations from that will be handled. See also Scope, Schedule and Budget for more information.

The PM Essentials program explores project planning in detail, enabling participants to confidently prepare – and administer – plans for future projects.

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