Project LeadershipProject Management

Struggling with Project Plan? Check Out the Dos and Don’ts

Creating a project plan is an art that takes experience and project managers often struggle with it. It is a roadmap that your team is going to follow for the next couple of days or months. In this article at Project Times, Gary Garris shares some useful dos and don’ts of making a project plan.

Preparing a Project Plan

When you create a project plan, it is mostly for the sole purpose of getting your business case approved by the steering committee. If so, stick to your plan by meeting the deadlines and milestones in the project lifecycle.

Don’t Only Rely on Excel

Auditors are continuously recommending against using Microsoft Excel for project plans due to ‘violating’ SDLS practices. You can always switch to Microsoft Project in the future. Following are the reasons why Excel is not a good idea:

  • Excel does not have the features that would help present the project plan in a formal meeting.
  • You do not have clear visibility into challenges, dependencies, etc.
  • You need a sharp eye to figure out task delays or slippages.
  • You cannot allocate resources directly from Excel.
  • You need to put in extra effort to create a visual timeline for easy comprehension.

Deliver Value Instead of Following a Default Plan

All project managers have a common project plan template in their repository. Some send that across as the initial starting point and gradually customize as the project progresses. You should focus on delivering value instead of achieving prescribed milestones. The project might be a complete failure even after achieving those common goals every project requires. Identify if the tasks help you deliver value.

Signs of a Bad Project Plan

  • If a task is taking more than 10 to 15 days to complete, you have a bad project plan. Break down the task into sub-tasks so that you can correct issues before it is too close to the delivery date.
  • The project schedule is not updated. It is tiring to keep updating the list after every status meeting. However, missing an important feature addition in the deliverables will not go down well with the stakeholders.
  • Task completion percentage is still zero after the scheduled delivery date. Find out if your team missed that task or considered that task out of scope.
  • Tasks have incomplete information. Though you may not have much to go with, compile some details to help the team start working on it.

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Indrani Roy

Indrani Roy is currently working as a Content Specialist for CAI Info India. She has knowledge in writing blogs, product descriptions, brand information, and coming up with new marketing concepts. Indrani has also transcribed, subtitled, edited, and proofread various Hollywood movies, TV series, documentaries, etc., and performed audio fidelity checks. She started her career by articulating a knowledge base for an IT client, and, eventually, went on to create user manuals and generate content for a software dashboard. Writing being one of her passions, reading books is naturally her favorite pastime. When not lost in the world of letters, she is a foodie, movie buff, and a theater critic.

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