A project plan helps project managers leverage talents in the team for successful project delivery. Basically, it is a detailed guideline that helps them to achieve project goals. In this article at Mindiply, Francesco discusses 4 steps that would help project managers create a failsafe project plan.
Perfecting a Project Plan
Some project managers create their project plan directly on Gantt charts. Keep in mind, these tools help visualize project status but they cannot lead without a proper plan. Below are the 4 steps that would help project managers create a failsafe project plan:
Decide on the Project Goals and Scope: While goals are the purpose behind the project, a scope says what should be done to achieve those. Get these two aspects wrong in your project plan and it sure will lead you nowhere.
Get Down to Specifics in the WBS: Break down the main task in the project plan into definable subtasks. These further can be categorized based on priorities in the work breakdown structure. Defining tasks or breaking them into small parts aids in resource scheduling, team collaboration, budget control, etc. As rightly put together by Dave Gordon, “Make your structure as detailed as needed to facilitate an understanding of the work, but not so detailed that it becomes unmaintainable.”
Allocate Resources: Once done with WBS, allocate each task to resources as per their skillsets. Split the work hours of multi-skilled team members responsibly to optimize most of their talents. Apply automated tools for tasks that require extensive handling. For example, a CRM platform can automate report generation and notifications without much human intervention.
Estimate a Delivery Time: Discuss with the allocated resources and convey the expected delivery date to the customer. Project managers might get overambitious with their project plan and set a rushed deadline. This only creates further tension in the team. Based on the task complexity and urgency, set three sets of time variables—OMP. Use Optimistic Time Estimation (O), Normal Time Estimation (M), and Pessimistic Time Estimation (P) to calculate Estimated Time (TE). The following formula is for your perusal:
TE = (O + 4M +P)/6
Dependent variables also must be considered for a failproof project plan and calculating that can be difficult.
Finally, Create a Timeline: Once done with the time estimation, it is time for your project plan to have a timeline. Keep buffers for weekends, holidays, and unexpected circumstances. Also, dependencies and resource commitment play a role in your delivery fulfillment. Project managers should create a visual timeframe that stakeholders and customers can see simultaneously to maintain transparency.
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