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What Your Project Plan Should Cover

When you know the goal of your project and you believe it’s possible, you need a detailed project plan that describes how you and your team will make it happen. Include the following in your project-management plan:

  • An overview of the reasons for your project

  • A detailed description of intended results

  • A list of all constraints the project must address

  • A list of all assumptions related to the project

  • A list of all required work

  • A breakdown of the roles you and your team members will play

  • A detailed project schedule

  • Needs for personnel, funds, and non-personnel resources (such as equipment, facilities, and information)

  • A description of how you plan to manage any significant risks and uncertainties

  • Plans for project communications

  • Plans for ensuring project quality

Always put your project plans in writing; doing so helps you clarify details and reduces the chances that you’ll forget something. Plans for large projects can take hundreds of pages, but a plan for a small project can take only a few lines on a piece of paper (or a tablecloth!).

The success of your project depends on the clarity and accuracy of your plan and on whether people believe they can achieve it. Considering past experience in your project plan makes your plan more realistic; involving people in the plan’s development encourages their commitment to achieving it.

Often the pressure to get fast results encourages people to skip the planning and get right to the tasks. Although this strategy can create a lot of immediate activity, it also creates significant chances for waste and mistakes.

Be sure the drivers and supporters of your project review and approve the plan in writing before you begin the project. For a small project, you may need only a brief e-mail or someone’s initials on the plans. For a larger project, though, you may need a formal review and signoff by one or more levels of your organization’s management.

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