Scope your work and break it down into manageable components; then schedule and assign the tasks needed to complete your project. You can also use this template to manage workloads and tasks as changes occur. A project plan template is the foundation of all the work you do in leading a project to a successful completion.
Why You Need a Project Plan Template
Now that you have downloaded the free project plan template you are ready to get your project on track to a successful completion. That is because the project plan is the fundamental document from which your project is formally managed.
The project plan is made up of activities, tasks and the resources needed to complete the project as outlined in the project business case. So, you want to have a description of the major phases of the project, a schedule of activities, tasks and their duration, dependencies, resources, timeframes, etc. Then list the assumptions and constraints in the planning process.
Related: Project Planning Software
When you are creating a project plan you need to take the following steps: note project scope, identify milestones and tasks, quantify the effort required, allocate the resources, make a schedule, list dependencies and document it all for approval.
While the business case that you have composed earlier in the project process may have offered a general view of the project, now the project plan will go into greater detail once the project scope and charter have been formalized and a team hired. You write the project plan during the project planning phase, but it doesn’t stay on a shelf or in a drawer once complete. This is a living document that will be revisited and referred to throughout the life cycle of the project.
How to Use a Project Plan Template
Follow these steps to make sure that your project plan takes all aspects of the project into account. That way you will be less likely to run into surprises that you have not planned for.
1. Planning Basis
Begin with the scope. What activities and tasks as defined in your project must be done in order to make the project a success? Use the project charter as a springboard.
Now you want to note the milestones or major events or phases in your project, and collect them in a chart with three columns for the milestone, a description and its delivery date. Examples of milestones are when the business case is approved, when the project team is appointed or the project office established.
The next step is detailing the phases of the project, which is defined as a set of activities, such as the project’s initiation, planning, execution and closure. These should also be noted in a chart with the phase followed by a description of it and its sequence.
You need to note the tasks that are necessary to complete the project, too. These are called activities and can include when you develop a quality plan, formulate supplier contracts and perform project closure. Write them out in a chart listing the phase, activity, description and sequence.
Going deeper now into tasks, you want to list the items of work that need completion within the project. List them in a chart, again, noting the phase, activity, task and sequence.
This leads to the effort likely needed to complete the above tasks. List the task with the amount of time you believe necessary to finish the task. This in turn goes hand in glove with resources, so you want to take the task and attach a resource or team member to it. This is the person responsible for completing the task.
2. Project Plan
Now you are ready to schedule the project from the summary above. Use the phases and activities to create a Gantt chart to more easily visualize the work needed and its duration.
You want to also add the dependencies, tasks that are linked to others and can potentially block team members if not done in a timely and sequential manner. In fact, there are four types of dependencies: finish-to-start, finish-to-finish, start-to-start and start-to-finish. List the key dependencies in a chart with the activity and then what it depends on and the type of dependency it is.
List any assumptions you have about the project. Then note the constraints. And finally, in an appendix, you will want to attach all the supporting documentation, such as the project schedule, business case, feasibility study, project charter, etc.
Now that you have downloaded your free project plan template, and you have created it to reflect your project, you are ready for the job at hand. But, whether you are a journeyman or an apprentice in project management, you never want to stay complacent. It is important to stay curious. Industry and business do not stand still, and you have to do your best to stay up-to-date on new trends.
That is why ProjectManager.com has a regularly published blog in which articles and tutorial videos are updated creating a robust and vibrant hub for project professionals. From pieces on those who are “accidental project managers” to detailed writings for those with many years experience in the field, ProjectManager.com’s blog is a valuable resource for project knowledge.
There are many topics of discussion on ProjectManager.com that can be easily filtered to bring you the content that is most relevant to your interests. Subjects include, but are not limited to, project management software, scheduling, risk and task management, collaboration, time tracking, Gantt charts, reporting and, of course, planning.
Visit ProjectManager.com/blog and read or watch what interests you. There are also free electronic guidebooks on a variety of subjects. But as the subject at hand is planning, we have gone through the content on the site to collect for you three of the most recent and relevant posts on project planning. Enjoy!
Try ProjectManager.com Free for 30 Days
ProjectManager.com is a great tool for project planning. It offers all the features you need to plan, track and report on your project. There are online and interactive Gantt charts that take the pain out of having to build one manually.
The software is also cloud-based, so that it is easy to access from anywhere and any device. Better still, it makes sharing necessary documents and tasks easy, and both the project manager and team members can get automated notifications to streamline the reporting process.
Why not plan your next project on ProjectManager.com? Our project management software has been repeatedly ranked #1 on Gartner’s GetApp in its project management software category. ProjectManager.com has been helping businesses both big and small to lead their projects to success, including such innovative organizations as NASA.
The software is big enough to handle the largest and most complex project and yet user-friendly and intuitive to make it easy to use. There is no learning curve or long and involved training involved, and a team of customer service reps are available to answer any question you may have.
Go to ProjectManager.com and click on the link to try our software. You can get full access for 30 days, free. Give ProjectManager.com a chance to show you how it can make your project more efficient and productive.