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How to Prepare Your Project Plan

Even though you can’t avoid surprises or changes as your project unfolds, you can provide a logical order for your project’s planning activities. Sticking to this order as much as possible discourages bad surprises (and their faithful companions — change and redirection).

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When you receive a project assignment, take the following steps to develop a plan for your project:

  1. Clarify the reasons for the project and the desired results.

    To complete this step, you need to do two important activities:

    • Identify the audiences who will have a say in your project.

    • Get info from all the audiences and written sources about expectations.

    Perform these two activities interactively. In other words, use the initial statement of your assignment to suggest additional audiences and consult with those audiences to identify more issues to address.

    The outcomes from these activities are your audience list and your Scope Statement.

  2. After you know all the results and deliverables your project is supposed to produce, identify the work required to accomplish them.

    Record this information in a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).

  3. Consider the WBS and the audience list together to decide on each audience’s roles and responsibilities for each project activity.

    Display this information in a Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM).

  4. Create and analyze a network diagram that represents the dependencies among the deliverables and activities from the WBS to develop a schedule that meets your project drivers’ requirements and that your project supporters believe is possible.

    Display your final schedule in a milestone list, an activity list, or a Gantt chart.

  5. Estimate your resource needs and display them in one or more Resources Matrices and Resources Loading Charts and in your project budget.

    After you specify the particular resources you need and when you need them and identify people who may meet those needs, revise your network diagram and schedule to reflect any differences between the capabilities and availability of the people you requested and those being offered to you.

    Negotiate for different people, if necessary, and modify your schedule accordingly until you have a schedule and a list of resource assignments that you believe will meet your project’s needs.

  6. Identify, analyze, and plan for any significant project risks.

Continue working on each step in this initial process until all project drivers and supporters agree with and support your project plan.

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