Project plans provide direction and track progress. Project planning is not administrative task, it requires a level of experience to match the project outcomes with the activities while balancing resources including budget.
Getting the right support and resources to develop and maintain a quality project plan is crucial. A quality project plan communicates the story of the project's journey and it supports decision making for the Steering Group, the Project Manager and the Project Team.
How to get the most out of your project plan
The project plan, when it exists as a living, breathing database of project information, provides useful information such as:
- run scenarios to understand the impact of proposed changes
- provides a view of whether your budget is likely to stretch far enough by comparing spend versus progress to date information
- which activities can experience delay and not impact the milestone or project delivery dates
- which activities, no matter how small, if delayed will impact the milestone or project delivery dates
- empower team members to prioritise their work (leaving less wiggle room for blaming activities outside of their control for downtime)
- sheds light on the 'culture' of your project team - are they good at starting activities (lots of early starts) but lots of progress bars sitting around 90% indicating a reluctance to finish or difficulties in getting sign offs
This information can be used diagrammatically to communicate the project journey to your audience. You do not need a Gantt chart to tell the story, use whatever tool helps your audience to understand the project at a glance. Using the information and adapting it to a format right for your audience ensures the plan is also a key tool underpinning project communications.
"Planning is the basis of all good projects. It looks simple, but it isn’t."
What are your experiences where good project plans have contributed to the success of the project? Share your experiences and what made your plans so successful.