How to Make a Project Plan: 6 Important Tips
As a project manager, creating and executing an effective project plan can often be difficult and cumbersome. From keeping everyone on the same page to making sure that workflow is moving in the right direction, projects can easily slip off the rails when there is not a comprehensive project plan in place detailing roles, expectations, schedules, and goals of the project. It’s important to work through the initial project planning process to see the fruits of your labor come to life. Look up as many project plan examples as you can. Every company or project manager works differently. Take notes on some of the project plan examples you like most and that reflects how you want the project you are overseeing to be done. Here are a few simple tips for how to make a project plan.
Create a schedule that works
When it comes to executing how to make a project plan of any kind, planning and scheduling are critically important. Make sure that you know when the best time is for everyone on your team to meet and work together. Next, create a schedule that works for everyone. This means making sure everyone is involved in the project planning process and aware of the deadlines and potential roadblocks.
Hold detailed initial meetings
When learning how to make a project plan, it’s important to meet with project stakeholders. In an initial meeting, set clear goals for the project plan you are looking to create and get everyone on the same page. Make sure that everyone on the team knows what their role is and how that role functions alongside the team. This is important because if one aspect of the project lags, certain deadlines might not be reached. That, in turn, affects the whole project planning process and the results.
Creating a project plan outline in this meeting is necessary for the overall success of the project. It can help the team keep track of schedule, goals, and expectations. Use this meeting, or a series of meetings like this, early on to brainstorm. This is also the time to make sure that the goals and deliverables of the project outlined can be met and to ensure tasks are being done effectively.
Prioritize deliverables for the project
Make sure that everyone on the team understands the basics of how to make a project plan as well. For example, you should be clear about the scope and focus of the project. If many things need to be completed before being connected, this needs to be clearly noted on the project plan outline. Don’t be afraid to ask some hard questions to yourself and the team, like:
- How long is this aspect of the project going to take?
- Is there a way to optimize these three tasks into one?
- Is there a more effective way to complete this task?
Asking questions will help you throughout the initial planning. Prioritizing the deliverables of the project will help you see and eliminate any unnecessary steps. You don’t want a lot of unnecessary information out there which might distract team members from what you actually want them to put into their tasks.
This is also a great time to use project plan software to ensure that you are being effective with your time and efforts. Project management software, like Monday or Proggio, is perfect for allowing you to communicate with team members about all aspects of the project. Use these tools to keep your projects humming along smoothly. This way you can be sure that the project is clearly working towards the intended goals.
Project managers tend to stick to the project plans that they know work for them. While this can be effective, as a project manager, it’s important to be flexible. There will likely be aspects of any project that need more time or different budgeting in order to ensure the quality of the end result.
Weigh the pros and cons of any major changes and find the best balance between top-notch work and keeping within schedule. However, if a deadline needs to be pushed back because something is just not quite right, don’t hesitate to do what’s best. As the project manager, you have the control and should use it to get the best out of the project you are tasked with carrying out.
Don’t forget resource management and limitations
It is always important to be aware of resource management and possible limitations on the projects you’re carrying out. If you have a grandiose idea, but only a small and inexperienced team, you might need to outsource part of the work, or even just set that project to the side completely until you are ready and have the team to tackle it.
Conserving company resources is never a bad idea. Don’t forget about people’s time management and your effect on their productivity. Assign tasks in a timely manner that works for all. Understanding what each member on your team is capable of will instantly help you assign tasks.
When deciding how to make a project plan, it’s also wise to attempt to conserve financial resources. There are countless programs out there designed to help you keep track of finances. For example, FreshBooks offers cloud accounting services alongside project management tools. Tools like this should be used to their fullest in order to help you stick to your project plan outline. They can also help you to avoid devoting time and attention to things that can be handled with a more effective solution.
Keep stakeholders in the loop
Make sure to always check in with project stakeholders periodically to make sure you are staying on track. You want to have the best possible outcome for projects overseen, and for that to happen, keeping relevant stakeholders updated will help you focus and asses you and your team’s efforts.
Also, do not be afraid of asking stakeholders as many questions as you can think of. Getting the most information out of all stakeholders is crucial when it comes to their vision for the end results of the project. You want to know what they think about the project. This information can even be used for your project plan outline. It’s also important to inform your team, as well as stakeholders when there are changes to the project. They might want you to take their interests into consideration in order to achieve a successful end result.
Hopefully, this guide has helped you learn how to make a project plan that can be effective for you and your company. Executing that same project plan out in the real world with your team can be challenging, but with the right planning, it can be highly successful. With an effective project plan outline, as well as some help from the best project planning software, it can be easier than ever to keep everyone on your team on the same page and motivated towards the same goal.