Writing a project plan

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Define project goals and scope

When defining the goals and scope in your project management plan, there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration.

First is the primary and secondary project goals. What do you hope to accomplish with the project? This might take some work because it involves doing some research into strategic business requirements. It will probably mean talking with other team members, other departments, project sponsors, and executives. It also involves documenting and re-confirming requirements before completing project goals. This is a critical part of planning for your project because it forms the foundation of the project and guides every aspect of project work and resourcing.

Identify project stakeholders

Many projects have run into issues during execution due to incorrectly identified stakeholders and lack of buy-in.

While gathering requirements and determining the project goals, you will have identified key stakeholders. It's essential to confirm that all the right stakeholders have been included and are the right stakeholders for this specific project.

Talk with the customer, participating Gurus and other specialists which are not available in the Guru directory to make sure each stakeholder can dedicate enough time for the project without being over-scheduled.

Factory dark 3 x 2 small
Factory dark 3 x 2 small

Identify the tasks, milestones, and schedule

Once you've identified the goals and stakeholders, you can identify the tasks, and milestones required.

After determining this, you can fill a Gantt chart to estimate the time it will take to complete the project. This will be your project schedule.

It's important to include realistic buffer time with each task to give yourself enough freedom to complete the project on time if unexpected delays occur.

Identify and plan for potential risks

You may not see into the future, but you can try to anticipate on potential issues and plan for as many as possible.

Using a risk matrix allows you and the other stakeholders to put together a single-source view of probable risks and evaluate them. You can determine which risks should be addressed first by categorizing them by probability and severity.

It's vital to revisit the risk matrix throughout the project lifecycle because the probability and severity can change, making it necessary to reevaluate your strategy.

Factory dark 3 x 2 small
Factory dark 3 x 2 small

Share the plan with stakeholders

Sharing your project plan with key stakeholders gives everyone a chance to see it with a fresh set of eyes. It's very helpful to avoid important things getting excluded unnoticed.

It also helps to gain buy-in much easier than trying to complete a project without input of all people who will have to dedicate time to it.

Some project managers may be inclined to skip this step, but it's not recommended. Getting feedback and the green light from stakeholders can go a long way toward smoothing potential conflict once the project is underway.