Ah, project management – it’s a buzzword in the current world of professionals, and a skill many of us seek to have. But before you even begin managing a project and running something independently, you need to have an excellent project management plan!
Every good project begins with a great project management plan. Without a plan, you don’t know where the project is going to lead, and what the steps are going to be to get there. A good plan is like a road map to the end goal of the project: it outlines the route, and details the methods of each stage of the journey. A plan defines the end goal, and sets milestones and tasks needed to achieve the goal.
A plan should also provide information about the budget, breakdown of costs, and where materials and people power will be sourced from.
Without a plan, you risk the entire project failing!
All good project managers know that the success of any project depends on the manager’s ability to design a tailor-made, project-specific approach to the project execution. The methods must align with the needs of the client and the strengths of their team. However, as project managers will know, workflow management and the project’s success is an abstract area of knowledge. That means figuring out how to do it correctly is often hard to conceptualize. Figuring out the best project management tips and tricks comes with time, experience, and a lot of trial and error.
Starting with a good plan will see your project off to a good start.
Yet making an excellent project management plan is no easy feat. In fact, there is a lot to take into account and many methods and details to consider. However, it’s important to take the time to learn how to write a great project management plan – your project depends on it!
Whether you are a new project manager or a project management professional, it’s useful for you to go back to ‘project management school’ and brush up on the key tips and tricks for making an excellent project. The fundamental skills of project management are crucial to any project manager seeking to make a great plan.
So, follow the tips below to write a killer project management plan.
Outline Your Project
Before you begin filling in the details of your plan, form an outline.
This is easily done by brainstorming – you can gather your team, or colleagues, and sit down to throw some ideas around together. Be sure to write everything down!
Firstly, you need a clear, easily measured goal. Don’t have several goals and outcomes, and don’t overly complicate what you want the end result to be. If your project is to build a greenhouse, the end result is a functioning, profitable greenhouse – it’s as simple as that.
Next, define how businesses will benefit. Investors need to know how the project is going to help them!
Then you can move on – break down the plan into achievable tasks and milestones that will be necessary to complete the project.
Then, you’ll want to think about potential problems and how to solve them. Maybe there’s no water supply nearby the greenhouse site, and you’ll need to source clean water from somewhere else. Maybe you anticipate some problems sourcing materials, or finding the right laborers. Whatever it may be, have a clear idea of problems you may face and what you can plan to do from the get-go to solve them. This makes it much easier down the line when you run into problems!
You should brainstorm potential problems with you team, too.
Lastly, you’ll need to list the metrics of success – the measures of quantitative assessment uses for comparing and tracking performance. This allows you to see along the way how your project is doing.
Ask Your Stakeholders Their Opinion
It sounds obvious, but you need to talk to your stakeholders before you start planning.
As the project manager, you should talk to businesses and people investing in your project (the stakeholder) to see what their expectations are for the project. You need to know the scope of work and what the deadlines are.
Talk to your vendors and see what they can offer, with your management to give them updates, and with people working for you in the project. That way, everyone’s on the same page about the project
Think about the Timescale
How long is your project going to take, in total? And how long will each milestone take to complete?
Setting concrete deadlines really helps to organize your project into manageable chunks. That way, you won’t be rushing close to the final deadline and trying to fit everything in that needs to happen!
Everyone involved in the project should understand the timeline, which tasks need to be completed first and which are the most important, and what the deadlines are for all areas of the project.
You should also work out which tasks are the most time consuming, and which will run into the most problems, and factor this into your plan.
This will keep you, the project manager, on track, and will also keep your stakeholders happy. It will also keep the project within the budget as there will be no surprise costs!
When writing a project management plan, you will need to outline how many team members you will need for the project.
It’s also important to delegate tasks. If everyone knows from the beginning which tasks belong to each team member, there will be no confusion about who is doing what!
Ensure the team members undertaking certain tasks have the skillset to complete them, know how to handle potential problems, and what to do in certain situations!
Ensure your Plan is Error-Free and Clearly Formatted
This seems like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many project management plans are full of errors!
With so many important people viewing your plan, it’s essential it is error-free: that means it is grammatically correct, contains no spelling errors, and has been edited to be accurate and clear.
Anything less than this looks very unprofessional, and worse, can cause team members to misunderstand their jobs and milestones.
Schedule, Schedule, Schedule!
As noted, a good schedule keeps everybody involved in the project on target.
You should be scheduling everything from milestones and tasks, to when meetings are going to take place. Have performance reviews, regularly, and have team meetings to discuss the project as a whole together. In this way, everyone will be in the loop about the progress of the project and know about difficulties as they arise.
Keep everyone involved in the schedule – vendors, management, project partners and workers.
If you stick to your schedule, there’s no way you can miss your deadlines. You’ll be sure to complete the project in a timely manner!
Record and Document Everything
The role of the project manager is to plan, coordinate, and to document. Everything that happens in the project, no matter how big or how small, should be recorded.
This involves all people working on the project, all expenditures, and problems faced and solved.
This way, when the project is completed, there is a paper trail – any future problems can be resolved using this history, and it also serves as a great outline for the future, in case of similar projects!
You already did this in your outline – but now your project is almost ready to go, you’ll want to have another think about potential problems. It’s the best way to be equipped to solve them, should they arise!
Even the best projects meet unforeseeable issues. Don’t get hung up on it – prepare, by doing your research, for your problems and then be ready to solve them.
There you have it! 8 tips for excellent project management planning. Outline your plan, communicate with everyone involved in your plan, get your timescale down to a T, create and delegate tasks and milestones, and schedule everything precisely. You should also make sure your plan is easy to read and understand, error-free, and be sure to document everything that happens in your project. Lastly, you’ll want to anticipate problems and dedicate some time to problem solving, before you even begin your project. This way, you’re on the road to success!
It’s easy to be a project manager – becoming a great project manager takes a little more effort. You should be an expert in leadership, communication, and organizational skills.
You should be willing to take the time at the beginning of your project to plan it well – once the project begins, you’ll be so busy with coordinating the team and dealing with problems, you’ll be glad you made a solid plan!
Michael Dehoyos is a content marketer and editor at AcademicBrits. He enjoys long walks on the beach and helping companies with their marketing strategy concepts. A contributor to numerous sites and publications.