Planning for Success
Oftentimes during the course of a project, you may encounter schedule changes, new requirements or requirement changes, and risks. When these things happen, it is still possible to complete the project however, without a project plan, it’s almost impossible to do so successfully. A well-structured, clear, and concise project plan can always help to ensure that everything goes smoothly, no matter how many bumps you may encounter along the way.
According to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, a project plan is defined as a “formal, approved document used to guide both project execution and project control.” A project manager will create a plan to define how and when a projects objective will be achieved through products, milestone, activities, and resources.
Before beginning to create you plan, it is important to ask some questions.
Why - what is the problem that is being solved? What is the final objective and why is the project being conducted?
This defines the purpose of the plan. Keeping an objective or purpose in mind throughout the course of planning will help to better define milestones, appropriate resources, and a schedule.
What – what is the work being performed? What are the deliverables?
This helps to define project milestones and key deliverables.
Who – who will be involved and what are their responsibilities within the project?
This helps to define resources for the plan. Each resource should be assigned to appropriate tasks.
When – what is the project timeline and when will milestone be complete?
This helps to define the project schedule, and allocate each task and resources time.
While there are multiple ways you can create project plans, the most commonly used application is oftentimes Microsoft Project. Project will help create a schedule based on the plan you create, and allows you to easily enter tasks, milestones, and resources while defining a timeline. The key to successful project management is to always keep your objective in mind, and above all else, to always keep the stakeholders informed during the course of the project. Defining a project plan also helps to ensure that all of your resources are properly allocated, and that the stakeholders needs are being met. While planning for success doesn't neccessarily mean that you won't encounter any risks or issues along the way, it does help create a clear vision for how the project is going to be completed.
For more information, you can refer to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) http://www.pmi.org/PMBOK-Guide-and-Standards.aspx