How To Build a Perfect Project Management Plan: A 12 Step Guide

Researchers reveal that a lot of business investment gets wasted because of poor project performance. Organizations must unveil the real causes of such failures and check out with the project management professionals who can find out solutions to meet up these challenges.

Poor project management planning leads to consistent failures. And this means there was a meagre involvement of the management team during the planning done by the stakeholders. And hence the scope of the project remains unexplored. Hence, the schedules and the budgets will be unrealistic without a critical planning done for the project management. 

How Can You Determine Project Feasibility?

Based on the experiences of various researchers and scholars, it is highly recommended that every project manager must follow the below steps to develop a plan that drives quality deliverables at the right time and within the stipulated budget.

1. Know Requirements From Key Stakeholders.

After you create a project charter and find key project stakeholders, you must begin to collect their requirements. The entire process of planning begins with collecting information that enables you to define the scope of the project and the key deliverables to the stakeholders.

You need strong communication skills at this stage of the planning process. Effective communication ensures you do not miss out the important details that are crucial for the project’s overall success.

2. Establish the Scope Of the Project.

As a project manager, you can do a quick check with your self by asking a question “What does my team need to produce or deliver?” or “What problems my stakeholders are trying to solve?” Once you get the answers, it is time to work with your stakeholders and develop a thorough description about the project and the product deliverables. You can use different tools available to gather information in an organized manner. Also, you must have a clear understanding of the project boundaries.

For example, if you are developing a quality improvement strategy for a customer, you must know what will be included in the QI model and what kind of quality they need. What is it intended to do? What are the critical functions and features it needs to have?

3. Break Down Into Smaller Tasks.

Break down the project’s scope into smaller, more manageable deliverables and groups of related tasks, also known as “work packages.” This will allow you to assign resources to different parts of the project based on the skills needed. The work breakdown structure facilitates planning and coordination, which are two important functions of project management.

4. Identify Project Activities.

Break down work packages into a list of project activities. Consider this an action plan. It can help to ask yourself: “What are the activities that must be performed to create the deliverables of the project?”

5. Put Them In Right Sequence.

Even though if you see everything happening in sequence, there is a trick lying in to perform tasks in parallel as possible, provided you have enough resources. The key reason to adopt the initial project management methodology is to decrease time-to-market. For dynamic and highly competitive industries, reducing cycle time is a skill and stands as a competitive advantage.

6. Estimate activity duration, costs, and resources.

The cost, duration, and resources required to complete the project activities depend on the scope of the project. Proper estimating is important for any project, as it helps determine if the plan is viable, set expectations, and keep costs under control.

7. Allocation of resources to work packages and activities as per skillsets.

Resources include not only labor but also materials, equipment, space, and technology. After identifying which resources you’ll need, you need to identify the skill level needed for each activity.

Scope and complexity level of the project helps you determine the areas of improvement from entry-level to high skills. With this step, you can determine the sequence of events that need to take place. To establish a realistic timeline, you’ll need to know how long each activity will take, how much each will cost, what resources (team members) you’ll need, and also when those resources are available.

8. Contingency Planning.

Lack of contingency planning leads to a disaster. It is always recommended to build up back up plans because projects rarely go as per the plan. Those one minute changes can be taken care of if contingencies are determined well in advance and the risks are identified occurring in small projects of past.

For example, if a vendor you’re relying on to deliver a key component of your project has had performance issues in the past, this could impact your schedule. If so, a contingency plan—such as identifying alternative vendors and estimating the costs if this risk should occur—is necessary. The key here is to consider both internal and external factors that may impact your project’s objectives. There are many factors outside of the organization that could add risk to the project, including the consumer price index, the economy, government issues (e.g., emerging regulations), and competitors’ actions.

Also, consider organizational culture when formulating your contingencies. The culture of the organization can impact certain elements of a project plan. 

9. Develop Performance Measurement Baseline

You need to develop an integrated scope-schedule-cost baseline for the project work, which will serve as a control tool for your project. Then, compare the execution of the project to your baseline to measure and manage performance. These baselines can be established through status reports within project management software applications.

Project lifecycles should be the real parameters to measure performances. By practicing this, you will identify the loopholes and take correction measures before everything goes late. It’s equally important to measure performance upon completion of the project. This allows you to compare actual results to their baselines to evaluate overall and individual performance.

10. Create all subsidiary plans.

It takes a lot of effort to develop a comprehensive and realistic project plan. Proper planning can definitely make your life easier during the executio phase of the project. Also, you can prevent nasty surprises and misunderstandings.

There are several factors that needs to be considered via effective planning. You must frame these plans  and can call it subsidiary so that during execution time, they are readily available. You need to manage various factors such as scope, schedule,  cost, resource, quality, communication, procurement, requirement, change, stakeholder and configuration.

11. Keep Everything Documented.

Document a project plan that outlines the scope, schedule, and cost of the project. Typically, plans should cover cost management, quality management, resource management, communication management, risk management, procurement processes, as well as ongoing stakeholder engagement (i.e., how to continually engage stakeholders through the lifecycle of the project.)

12. Create Your Knowledge Base.

Some organizations have a learning culture where project managers are expected to document and share their plans. This can be a valuable way to learn from the mistakes and successes of others. In other companies where this historical knowledge isn’t documented, this could be more challenging, and it may be necessary to reach out directly to other project managers to gain insights

Master The Project Management Skill

Project management is a growing and in-demand career, but how do you take steps to grow in your role? We recommend taking the following steps to further your project management career.

Make learning a daily habit. 

Some of the most successful project managers  regularly work on furthering their communication, team building, and negotiation skills 

You Can Learn From Everywhere. 

By earning a degree you can propel your career forward. You can also learn in other ways—from experience on the job and through support systems within the profession.

To demonstrate your skills to employers, you can also explore opportunities to earn various credentials, such as becoming a certified project manager. Data has shown that project managers who hold a certification and/or a master’s degree in project management typically earn higher salaries than their counterparts who do not.

Develop your technical skills.

Like many fields, project management technology is continually evolving, so professionals need to stay ahead of trends in the field. For example, many project managers today are investigating the potential applications of artificial intelligence and robotics. Artificial intelligence will play an important role in the way we collect, store, and share lessons learned in project management.

Develop a strong Supportive Network 

Many professionals are willing to share their knowledge and experience. Two places to start are the Project Management Institute and project management groups on LinkedIn.

Sharpen Your Leadership Skills 

Your leadership skills develop in those testing times when one of the project team member does not directly report to you. So create enough power with great influence however challenging it may be. The most common technique is to develop the ability to connect with others and build strong connections within the organization. Apart from knowing everything about your field, you need strong leadership skills.

Value Your Project Management Skill

Demonstrate to managers and others in the organization how project management is essential for developing the organization’s competitive advantage. Effective project management can result in measurable benefits such as improved productivity or reduced time-to-market for a new product.