Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar icon
Adobe PDF icon

Project Planning in a Nutshell

~ By Thomas Pyzdek

Gantt chart

Improvement happens one project at a time. But often projects fail because they are poorly planned, or even completely unplanned. This article provides an overview of why it is important to prepare a project plan. It also shows what elements a good project plan will include.

Why Create a Project Plan?

There are several reasons why one should plan carefully before starting a project:

  1. The plan is a simulation of prospective project work, which allows flaws to be identified in time to be corrected
  2. The plan is a vehicle for discussing each person's role and responsibilities, thereby helping direct and control the work of the project
  3. The plan shows how the parts fit together, which is essential for co-ordinating related activities
  4. The plan is a point of reference for any changes of scope, thereby helping project managers deal with their customers
  5. The plan helps everyone know when the objectives have been reached and therefore when to stop

Elements of a Good Project Plan

The project plan shows the "why" and the "how" of a project. A good project plan will include the following elements:

  • Statement of the goal
  • Cost/benefit analysis
  • Feasibility analysis
  • Listing of the major steps to be taken
  • Timetable for completion
  • Description of the resources required (including human resources) to carry out the project

The plan will also identify objective measures of success that will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed changes; these are sometimes called the "deliverables" of the project.

Project Decomposition

Most projects important enough to have a significant impact on quality are too large to tackle all at once. Instead, large projects must be broken down into smaller projects and, in turn, into specific work elements and tasks. The process of going from project objectives to tasks is called decomposition. Project decomposition begins with the preparation of a preliminary plan. A preliminary project plan will identify, in broad, high-level terms, the objectives of the project and constraints in term of time and resources. The work to be performed should be described, and precedence relationships should be sketched out. Preliminary budgets and schedules will be developed. Finally, sub-plans will be developed for each subproject for the following:

  • Control plans
  • Quality control plans
  • Cost control plans
  • Schedule control plans
  • Staffing plans
  • Material plans
  • Reporting plans
  • Other plans as deemed necessary

These sub-plans are developed in parallel for the various sub-projects.

Improvement happens one project at a time, but without proper planning, these project may well fail to deliver their objectives.


Thomas Pyzdek wrote the Six Sigma Handbook, The Quality Engineering Handbook and The Handbook of Quality Management. His works are used by thousands of universities and organisations around the world to teach Quality, Lean, and Six Sigma.


Comments

Be the first to comment on this article.

Add a comment



(never displayed)



 
2000
Which is darker: black or white?
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

So You Want to Be a Project Manager

Businessman smiling with hands together

Not sure what skills it takes to become a Project Manager? This article lists the six key skills required to be a successful project manager.

Project Scheduling And Resource Levelling

Gantt chart and fountain pen

This article describes the must do steps, in the correct order, for scheduling projects and levelling finite resources.

Helping Project Teams Succeed

Business team brainstorming using coloured labels on a table in an office

Project teams will be successful when the right environmental conditions exist; sadly this is not always the case.

A Brief History of SMART Goals

Set your goals written on blue paper

In this history of SMART goals, I look at where the acronym came from, who developed it, what the critics say and why it has become popular.

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what's happening in the world of project management.


Latest Comments

Amie Genabia commented on…
Use Your Whole Brain: Leveraging Right-Brained Thinking in a Left-Brained World
- Tue 14 July 3:07pm

Nick Wilson commented on…
Writing a Funding Proposal
- Mon 13 July 4:29pm

Masha commented on…
5 Tips for Successful Projects
- Sun 12 July 12:31am

Latest tweets

General Project Management • How to choose the right requirements management tool for managing projects? https://t.co/dRu4cVISvv about 1 day ago

General Project Management • Re: Student System Migration Project https://t.co/A6PPzF2G0p about 1 day ago

General Project Management • Student System Migration Project https://t.co/6hGzzlI479 about 2 days ago