On a more technical planning document note, many project choose to incorporate an actual ‘how to’ on the development side called the Development Plan. Whether you choose to utilize this plan on your project is up to you and may be more meaningful on very large and longer projects or on projects with a very complicated technical solution (or possible a questionable one??).

The technical staff in the organization or on the project creates the development plan. In essence, the plan presents not only what the "change" will look like but also how to develop the solution in more detail. In many environments, the development plan has two main points. The first focuses more on development methods and approaches, including testing, while the second point focuses on the broader aspects of administration and control. The development plan provides a disciplined approach to organizing and managing the IT project. A successful IT development plan would include

  • Scope of the development to be undertaken
  • An overview of the current system or information systems environment
  • Benchmarking other processes or systems
  • The proposed development environment and interfaces
  • Security considerations
  • Development guidelines and standards that will be used
  • Development resources required on the project
  • Estimated schedule for the development
  • Change control

By completing the development plan early in the planning phase of the project life cycle, the project manager, with the aid of the development manager/technical lead, can become familiar with the essential steps of organizing the development effort for the project.

  • Estimate resources
  • Establish schedules
  • Assemble staff
  • Set milestones

The development plan should concentrate on information that is unique or tailored to development activities. If standard policies, guidelines, or procedures will be applied to an aspect of the project, the plan should reference the documents in which these are defined rather than restating them in detail. Writing of the plan can begin as soon as any information about the scope becomes available.

Development plan

The project manager should complete the plan by the end of the initiation phase. If items in the development plan are missing for any reason, the technical lead/development manager should indicate who will supply the outstanding information and when it will be supplied. Copies of the approved development plan should be distributed to all technical team members and identified stakeholders.

Two of the most critical resources are development resources and time. The development manager is concerned with how much time will be required to complete the project and what staffing level will be necessary over the development cycle. The technical lead/development manager usually performs both staff and time estimations, and accordingly arranges a project meeting with the project manager in order to review the schedule and resource requirements. Issues of staff size and composition over the life cycle are also considered.

If the project is relatively straightforward and has a short project life cycle, many IT projects simply combine the development plan and implementation plan. The reason is that many of the resources remain the same throughout the project, making the approach easier. In such a case, a combined plan works well. However, in the event that the project is a medium or large one, it is recommended that the development plan and the implementation plan be separated, as the development phase will most likely have many changes during the design and development, which impacts the implementation.