PMP Certification: Creating the Project Plan
The project plan is a combination document composed of several subsidiary plans from each of the knowledge areas (for example, cost management, human resources management, and time management) . To round out the project plan, you collect lots of supplemental material as supporting detail. You also include other technical documents or, if the work is complex, you may even add an entire technical subsidiary plan.
Maintaining the plan as a living document
The project plan is an integrated document that must be updated continually throughout the project. Formal project management methodology actually prevents you from ignoring the integrated plan because its process feedback loops generate updates to the plan. The project plan document is a tool that serves you and the team. Furthermore, updating the subsidiary plans is important, as well — hence the emphasis on an integrated plan. And, after you've updated the project plan, you must follow the guidelines in the communications plan for distributing the revisions to stakeholders.
A mantra for the exam is this: Project requirements evolve over time. As the work progresses, you chart new territory, update your planning documents, and sometimes revise or correct them. In one scenario, you might have ended the core planning processes by establishing several baselines: scope, cost, and schedule. During other project planning processes, you determine how to manage such changes, how to measure them against the baseline, and how to integrate them into the project. This integrated plan — incorporating the work-breakdown structure, performance reports, and change requests — helps you manage the project.
Creating subsidiary plans
Your planning efforts should result in the creation of subsidiary plans from each knowledge area. Subsidiary management plans include the following:
- Scope management plan
- Time schedule management plan
- Cost management plan
- Quality management plan
- Human resource management plan
- Communications management plan
- Risk management plan
- Procurement management plan
Project integration management is omitted from the subsidiary plans. Integration is an overall process that combines all these subsidiary plans into the project plan.
Planning for change
As you create the project plan, keep in mind that facts and circumstances change. As you progress into other phases or stages, you may need to alter the plan to reflect these changes. Know how the methodology requires you to handle these updates. Remember also that change control has a dual nature: it's both proactive and reactive. In the proactive sense, your ability to manage changes as they occur is a Planning process — steps you took in advance to identify risks and determine how you would deal with them should they occur. In a reactive sense, change control is a continual controlling process, something the project manager is supposed to be doing all the time. To manage any change, you need a change control system.
The Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) defines a change control system as "a collection of formal, documented procedures that defines the steps by which official project documents may be changed. It includes the paperwork, tracking systems, and approval levels necessary for authorizing changes." Memorize this definition!
Some organizations already have change control procedures in place. You can and should use them. Otherwise, the project management team must devise a change control system for the project. Early in the project, form agreements on how to handle your change control.
Decide on what
- Reviews will be made of proposed changes
- Approval levels to require
- Action to take in simple cases when a formal review isn't necessary
- Action to take in emergencies
You also need to agree on a document versioning procedure and a configuration management procedure so all stakeholders know which set of revisions is current.
Obtaining written approvals for buy-in
A prudent business practice is to obtain written approvals before you begin the work. When disagreements occur later, having a document with the customers' signatures on it is helpful. Having all the scope documents approved is also helpful. These approvals establish a baseline for managing the ongoing project over its life cycle, so maintain orderly records of these authorizations, expenditures, and accomplishments.