The project management plan (PMP) is the method by which the project team designs the control and execution of the project. It is created at the outset of the project, and may likely include Gantt charts or other documentation that include a timeline approach. By answering basic questions and developed in a team approach, the PMP is a tool that keeps the project team focused on quality, cost, and performance.
The project management plan as an interrogative tool
The PMP should answer some basic questions about the project and related tasks:
- Why is the task necessary, and what impact does it have on project success?
- What activities are required to see the project through to a successful conclusion?
- What are the project deliverables?
- How will effectiveness be measured, and how will progress be monitored?
- When is each task under the project to be completed, and what are the required milestones?
- Who is responsible for each task, what resources are required, and how can people be organized?
Prepare and use the PMP with a team approach
The PMP cannot be prepared in isolation. While the project manager will need to identify individuals or teams to undertake work required, a team based approach will ensure that all tasks are fully discussed and specified as to duties and resource. In this planning phase, metrics of success will need to be detailed against which progress and success can be measured. These metrics should be aligned with stakeholder expectations.
With a participative approach to planning, the project manager will be able to gain buy in of all stakeholders as responsibilities are delegated and KPIs set. These should be regularly reviewed, with review sessions stipulated in the Project management plan.
In developing milestones for task completion, the project manager can turn to tools such as Gantt charts and also compare to the work breakdown structure (WBS). The project’s actual progress is then easily compared to planned progress, with remedial action quickly taken to keep the project on track.
Project planning requires detailed documentation from the outset to ensure successful completion. Where the project manager and project team prepare and work with inadequate planning documentation, the project is prepared to miss its expected outcomes; with cost, quality, and timeliness all virtually guaranteed to fall short of client expectations.
A formal project management plan will establish the required resources (human and otherwise), project timelines and milestone achievements, and provide a reference point for mitigation of project risks (such as scope creep).
Use a project management plan to ensure all stakeholders are in agreement from the outset as to responsibilities, measurements of progress, and control of the project against expected outcomes along the project timeline.