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What is the project management plan?

A project management plan highlights how the project will be performed, monitored, and controlled, beginning from the initiation phase, and going all the way to the end product.

Keep in mind that your project plan aims to define the method that your team will use to execute the structured deliverables on time.

To that end, the project management plan should also ideally include a process to measure the baseline performance analysis. Doing so helps to not only identify the weak areas during the lifetime of a project, but it also ensures long-term success related to future projects.

Difference Between A Project Management Plan and A Project Plan

The difference between a Project Management Plan and a Project Plan is not as clear cut as you might hope.

The difference between the two may completely depend on the organization you are working with.

Many companies have been seen to use the two terms interchangeably to refer to the same plan.

On the other hand, certain companies classify these two as different plans altogether.

If you look at the two plans, here are certain differences that you may note:

  • The project plan describes the “what” of your project while the project management plan describes the “how”
  • Often, the project plan is a broad document while the management plan deals with more detail related to the project.
  • The project plan describes the vision to complete the project while the management plan explains the method and system to be able to reach project success.
  • There is often a divide between the two for larger projects but a merge of terms for smaller projects.

The Purpose of a Project Management Plan

Since you are going to be spending a fair amount of time and effort creating your management plan it is imperative to understand a few basics.

There are different purposes for creating a management plan. Some of them are appended below. Have a look!

1. Planning

The first purpose of creating a management plan is fairly obvious, and that is to plan your project. As a project manager, before you get into the execution of a project, it is important to plan and understand the project in its entirety and how it will progress through its lifecycle.

2. Providing information to the project sponsor

It is also a benefit of creating a management plan that you can provide information and enlighten your project sponsor about how you plan to manage the project.

Although, it should be noted that at times the project sponsor is in another organization than the one working on the project, and therefore certain information in your management plan is not always applicable for them.

3. Act as a guide for decisions you have to make as a project manager

Management plans are also often used as a guide to take help from when issues or problems arise. Whenever an issue arises in the project’s progress, you as a project manager should consult your management plan.

Essentially you should have included any such issue in your management plan and discussed how to address the issue if it were to arise.

If, however, that is not the case and the management plan does not highlight the particular problem you are facing, you should make a note and ensure to include it in any future management plan you create.

Core Components of a Project Management Plan

All management plans include all the elements that define the management of their project.

However, certain components are pretty standard for every such plan.

We will discuss each of these elements in turn.

1. Scope Statement

We have listed the scope statement as the first element of the list of components for your management plan for a very important reason.

It is one of the core responsibilities of a project manager to understand the scope of the project and ensure that the project stays within the boundaries of that scope.

One of the most common reasons for project delays and increased budgets of projects is because of scope creep.

You can use the S.M.A.R.T approach to define the scope to make sure that the scope you define for your project is both effective and suitable.

S.M.A.R.T stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

  • Specific– the more specific the scope the less chance of scope creep
  • Measurable-a scope that can be measured allows for you to be able to know whether you have achieved it.
  • Attainable-it is important to make sure that the scope you are trying to achieve is attainable for you and your team in regards to expertise, knowledge, and resources.
  • Realistic-make sure that the scope adds value to the goals of your client and is realistic in terms of being achievable.
  • Timely-a scope statement should be limited by time allowing you to set a schedule, and also helps in creating a budget.

2. Work Breakdown Structure

A work breakdown structure defines the “what” aspect of a project.

The work breakdown structure highlights all the elements a project is required to accomplish to be deemed a success and is usually done through a graphical display organized with multiple levels.

3. Critical Success Factor

Critical success factors are those components of your project that have to be achieved to deem your project completed and a success.

Project managers and teams usually define their own critical success factors.

Research conducted on what factors are deemed to significantly influence a project’s success had the following findings:

  • Of those surveyed, people believed that formally establishing a project manager had a 93% influence on a project’s success.
  • Project goals that were set measurably and had 90%
  • The competencies of a project manager had 88%
  • The high authority of the project manager had 85%

Other factors that are often equated as critical success factors include:

  • Remaining within budget
  • Completing the project on time
  • Quality standards of the completed project
  • A minimal product rejection rate
  • The end-user benefits of the product
  • Team and employee satisfaction at the end of the project

4. Human Resources Plan

With any project, the most valuable resource is the people involved in the project, and those that make up your project team, and that is why resource planning in project management is also essential.

The human resources plan is important no matter whether you are planning on hiring new employees or working with people you have done so before.

While creating your management plan make sure that the human resource portion includes the following:

  • Resource requirements for your project
  • How you plan to acquire the project team
  • How much time each resource will dedicate to the project
  • Where the project team will come from
  • Any training and development the project team will require to be able to complete the project
  • Any management requirements for your project team.


5 Best Human Resource Management Certifications In 2020

5. Project Management Communication Plan

Communication is essential for collaboration and collaboration is the foundation for successful project delivery.

Depending on the project you are running, and those involved in it, your project management communication plan may vary.

Often, poor communication can lead to missed deadlines, extended budgets and the dreaded scope creep we keep mentioning.

A communication plan is not simply directed at your team members but should also incorporate how often you should talk to your client and stakeholders, what mode of communication you plan to use and how often you plan to communicate.

6. Deliverables

One of the most imperative responsibilities of a project manager is to manage the project deliverables, and therefore including them in your management plan is also just as crucial.

The project deliverables are those goods or services produced as a result of your project, that you intend to deliver to your client or customer.

Simply outlining the deliverable is often insufficient and therefore you should try to include details about your deliverables including:

  • Size
  • Length
  • Quality
  • Other standards

7. Stakeholder List

A stakeholder list should be created and developed for the management plan not only to keep track of who your stakeholders are and develop the list if they change but it also allows you to keep track of your communication plan.

8. Budget

No project is given free rein of monetary resources and therefore creating a budget and including it in the management plan is essential.

Budget is also one of the critical success factors that many project managers consider to highlight the success of a particular project.

Certain projects are allocated a budget from the start and it is your job to show how you will allocate this resource, other times you have to provide a budget plan to clients or stakeholders and they will determine if they are going to provide the budget you have outlined.

Depending on your project and your plan, you may also include your budget plan into your work breakdown structure.

9. Schedule

Like the budget, no project is given an unlimited time to be delivered. That is why scheduling your project is very essential.

Often, it is the external stakeholders that determine the delivery dates for the project.

It is quite common for there to be changes in a project’s schedule during the lifecycle because of certain factors, this is why the schedule requires active management.

Check this out:

6 Best Employee Scheduling Software to Use in 2020

10. Procurement Plan

It is common that when you initiate a project you find that you will require subcontractors, consultants, and suppliers.

Therefore, you should ensure that your management plan outlines these:

  • What are the services or products that your project will require?
  • How will you procure these services or products?
  • How do you intend to monitor the quality of these products or services and how will you monitor their progress?

Management of outside contractors becomes an important task since they are not affiliated with your organization directly, and therefore do not have the same drive or even the understanding of the progress or schedule of your project.

11. Risk Register

Risk registers are those documents that identify risks, include risk analysis, as well as risk response plans.

The risk register is important not just during the planning phase, but the document is used throughout the project lifecycle to monitor and control risks.

Therefore, remember to make your project risk management plan easy to understand, have the ability to be adapted when needed, and referenced throughout the project process.

Define the importance of any potential risk about probability and impact on your project.

Most organizations follow a simple process to highlight and identify risks and then make a risk register.

The following criteria are highlighted in risk registers:

  • A description of the risk
  • The probability of a risk identified
  • The impact a certain risk might have on the project
  • The events that may trigger a risk occurring
  • The priority of the risk
  • A response plan to risks that are identified so your team knows how to react to a risk that has materialized.

Learn about the top risk management software:

The 17 Best Risk Management Software of 2020


There you have it! That’s literally the crux of things that you need to know about getting started on your management plan. The process is also applicable to programs and program managers’ methodologies.

Don’t forget to keep a lookout for updates to this post. We will continue to give you a detailed insight into all your project management planning requirements from start to finish.

The article was originally published at www.ntaskmanager.com on September 15, 2020




Stories from the experts at nTask related to project management, Agile best practices, work culture, productivity and more.

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