A project management plan is critical for the success of any project. Similarly, an implementation plan, also called a strategic plan or strategic implementation plan, outlines requisite steps for the execution of a strategy, tactic or change within an organization, or project.
Without an implementation plan, your organization could be rolling out big changes with nothing but an online reference guide and a stressed-out developer trying to make everything happen. In addition to a great implementation plan, you should also use project management software to help you through the implementation process.
So what is an implementation plan, how do you make one, and how do you execute it successfully? Let’s take a look.
What Is an Implementation Plan?
An implementation plan is a project management tool that facilitates the execution of a strategic plan for a company or a project by breaking down the implementation process into smaller steps while defining the timeline, the teams and the resources that will be needed.
Related: Free Implementation Plan Template
Strategic planning is done on an organizational level, dictating the direction of the company strategy and allocating resources to make that strategy come to life. Thus, the implementation plan traces the edges of that, mapping out how to best implement a strategic plan from the outset, and how to effectively manage it as it gets put into place.
Project management software like ProjectManager greatly simplifies the implementation planning process. Schedule and execute your implementation plan with our robust online Gantt charts. Assign work, link dependencies and track progress in real time with one chart. Plus, if your team wants to work with something other than a Gantt chart, our software offers four other project views for managing work: task lists, kanban boards, calendars and sheets. Try it for free today.
Components of an Implementation Plan
There’s not really a standard one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to creating your implementation plan. However, we’ve created an implementation plan outline for your projects. Here are its components.
- Project Goals & Objectives: The project goal is the ultimate goal of your project, while the objectives are the key milestones or achievements that must be completed to reach it.
- Success Criteria: The project manager must reach an agreement with stakeholders to define the project success criteria.
- Scope Statement: The scope statement briefly describes your project scope, which can be simply defined as the project work to be performed.
- Resource Plan: Create a simple resource plan that outlines the human resources, equipment and materials needed for your project.
- Risk Analysis: Use a risk assessment tool like a SWOT analysis or risk register. There are different tools with different levels of detail for your risk analysis.
- Implementation Timeline: Any implementation plan needs a clear project timeline to be executed properly. You should use an advanced tool such as a Gantt chart to create one.
- Implementation Plan Milestones: You need to identify key milestones of your implementation plan so that you can easily keep track of its progress.
- Team Roles & Responsibilities: The implementation plan won’t execute itself. You’ll need to assign roles and responsibilities to your team members.
- Implementation Plan Metrics: You’ll need KPIs, OKRs or any other performance metrics you can use to control the progress of your implementation plan.
How to Write an Implementation Plan
Follow these steps to create an implementation plan for your project or business. You can also consider using project management software like ProjectManager to help you with the implementation process.
1. Research and Discovery
Start by identifying what you’ll need for the execution of your implementation plan:
- What teams need to be involved to achieve the strategic goals?
- How long will it take to make the strategic goals happen?
- What should be allocated from a budget and resources standpoint?
By interviewing stakeholders, key partners, customers and team members, you can determine the most crucial assignments needed and prioritize them accordingly. It’s also at this stage that you should list out all the goals you’re looking to achieve to cross-embed the strategic plan with the implementation plan. Everything must tie back to that strategic plan in order for your implementation plan to work.
2. Map Out Assumptions and Risks
This acts as an extension to the research and discovery phase, but it’s also important to point out assumptions and risks in your implementation plan. This can include anything that might affect the execution of the implementation plan, such as paid time off or holidays you didn’t factor into your timeline, budget constraints, losing personnel, market instability or even tools that require repair before your implementation can commence.
3. Assign Responsibility
Each activity in your implementation plan must include a primary champion to be the owner of it. For tasks to be properly assigned, this champion will need to do the delegating. This means that they ensure that all systems are working as per usual, keep track of their teams’ productivity and more. Project planning software is practically essential for this aspect.
To learn more about how project planning software can help you map out every step of your project implementation plan, including the designation of tasks, watch the short video below. With the help of software, it’s easy to craft a detailed plan that everyone can reference, so everyone gets their work done on time.
4. Determine Activities
Next you need to finalize all the little activities to round out your plan. Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- What are the steps or milestones that make up the plan?
- What are the activities needed to complete each step?
- Who needs to be involved in the plan?
- What are the stakeholder requirements?
- What resources should be allocated?
- Are there any milestones we need to list out?
- What are the risks involved based on the assumptions we notated?
- Are there any dependencies for any of the tasks?
Once all activities are outlined, all resources are listed and all stakeholders have approved (but no actions have been taken just yet), you can consider your implementation plan complete and ready for execution.
Implementation Plan Example
Implementation plans are used by companies across industries on a daily basis. Here’s a simple implementation plan example we’ve created using ProjectManager to help you better understand how implementation plans work. Let’s imagine a software development team is creating a new app.
- Project Goal: Create a new app
- Objectives: All the milestones that must be achieved to reach that ultimate goal.
- Success Criteria: The development team needs to communicate with the project stakeholders and agree upon success criteria.
- Scope Statement: Here’s where the development team will document all the work needed to develop the app. That work is broken down into tasks, which are known as user stories in product and software development. Here, the team must also note all the exceptions, which means everything that won’t be done.
- Resource Plan: In this case, the resources are all the professionals involved in the software development process, as well as any equipment needed by the team.
- Risk Analysis: Using a risk register, the product manager can list all the potential risks that might affect the app development process.
- Timeline, Milestones and Metrics: Here’s an image of an implementation plan timeline we created using ProjectManager’s Gantt chart view. The diamond symbols represent the implementation plan milestones.
- Team Roles & Responsibilities: Similarly, we used a kanban board to assign implementation plan tasks to team members according to their roles and responsibilities.
Benefits of an Implementation Plan
The implementation plan plays a large role in the success of your overall strategic plan. But more than that, communicating both your strategic plan and the implementation of it therein to your team members helps them feel as if they have a sense of ownership within the company’s long-term direction.
An implementation plan that’s well communicated also helps to increase cooperation across all teams through all the steps of the implementation process. It’s easy to work in a silo—you know exactly what your daily process is and how to execute it. But reaching across the aisle and making sure your team is aligned on the project goals that you’re also trying to meet? That’s another story entirely. But with an implementation plan in place, it helps to bridge the divide just a little easier.
Additionally, with an implementation plan that’s thoroughly researched and well defined, you can ensure buy-in from stakeholders and key partners involved in the project. And no matter which milestone you’re at, you can continue to get that buy-in time and time again with proper documentation.
At the end of the day, the biggest benefit of an implementation plan is that it makes it that much easier for the company to meet its long-term goals. When everyone across all teams knows exactly what you want to accomplish and how to do it, it’s easy to make it happen.
Implementation Plan FAQ
There’s more to know about implementation plans. It’s a big subject and we’ve tried to be thorough as possible, but if you have any further questions hopefully we have answered them below.
What Is the Difference Between an Action Plan and an Implementation Plan?
The main difference between an action plan and an implementation plan is that an action plan focuses exclusively on describing work packages and tasks, while the implementation plan is more holistic and addresses other variables that affect the implementation process such as risks, resources and team roles & responsibilities.
What Is an Implementation Plan in Business?
A business implementation plan is the set of steps that a company follows to execute its strategic plan and achieve all the business goals that are described there.
What Is an Implementation Plan in Project Management?
Implementation plans have many uses in project management. They’re a planning tool that allows project managers to control smaller projects within their project plan. For example, they might need an implementation plan to execute risk mitigation actions, change requests or produce specific deliverables.
How to Make an Implementation Plan with ProjectManager
Creating and managing an implementation plan is a huge responsibility and one that requires diligence, patience and great organizational skills.
When it comes to a project implementation plan, there are many ways to make one that’s best suited for your team. With ProjectManager, you get access to both agile and waterfall planning so you can plan in sprints for large or small projects, track issues and collaborate easily. Try kanban boards for managing backlogs or for making workflows in departments.
Switching up the activities after a milestone meeting with stakeholders? You can easily update your implementation plan with our software features. Add new tasks, set due dates, and track how far along your team is on their current activities.
Implementation plans are the backbone of an organization’s strategic overall plan. With ProjectManager, give your organization the project management software they need to gain insight into all resources needed, view activities on their lists and collaborate with ease. Sign up for our free 30-day trial today.