Plan Your Project

Hello, I’m Mike Clayton. And this is the second of my series of short videos about managing a project. In the last one, we looked at the 10 critical elements for defining your project. And in this video, we’re going to look at 10 essential components to a good project plan. The first thing that needs to go into your plan is the scope of your project, the things that you’re going to need to do. This sets out all the tasks or activities, and the best tool to use to create your scope plan is a work breakdown structure. A work breakdown structure is nothing more than a hierarchical grouping of activities. It sets out the main areas of work and breaks each one down into its component parts and continues to break the activities down into component parts until you each of the components of the greatest level of detail represents a single, coherent task or activity for the person who’s going to do the work. Often Work Breakdown structures are represented as hierarchical diagrams. But of course, when we represent them in our finished plan, they often come out as numbered lists using an indented numbering system. The second element of our project plan has to address the deliverables or products that we’re going to produce as a result of our project. Two things will make up this component. The first is a schedule of all of those deliverables. Often that schedule will be reconciled to your work breakdown structure. But then attached to that schedule will be a series of specification sheets. For each deliverable. There needs to be a specification documenting the functionality, the quality standards and the regulated requirements to which it needs to conform. Time or schedule is the third element of our project plan. And to start understanding the timing of our projects, we use milestones we identify key points in the project. The Beginning at one end, the completion at the other and the major points along the way. And those are known as milestones. milestones often represent the delivery of important products, they might represent the completion of phases of the work. Some milestones represent essential decisions, or perhaps external events that will impact our project. milestones are best represented by a list. Have key events or milestones with dates attached to them. A project plan also has to have a budget. There are lots of different ways of preparing a project budget. But perhaps the most obvious once you’ve built a work breakdown structure is to attach costs to each elements of your work breakdown structure to produce what is known as a cost breakdown structure. This has the advantage that once each activity or elements of the work is completed, it’s a relatively straightforward task to compare the out term cost of that element with the budget cost. Quality is the fifth component of our project plans. So you should have a quality plan, which documents how you’re going to ensure that the quality of all of your deliverables meets the standards set out in the design or specification documents of those deliverables. Often This will involve two separate processes a quality assurance process, which makes sure that the production of deliverables is designed to create deliverables to the quality specified at a quality control process, which makes sure that deliverables are not handed over to the new beneficial owners until they have been checked to ensure they conform with the quality standards. The sixth element of our project plan is going to be the schedule when different activities take place. We thought about time in terms of milestones earlier on, but when you combine that with the activities, you produce a schedule and the communist tool that project managers use for building, articulating and communicating the schedule. And also for monitoring and tracking progress against it is the Gantt chart. There are other tools of course But what a Gantt chart is particularly good at is representing activities against time. They often have a familiar long diagonal structure of bars, each one representing an activity going forward through time, and there will be sequences of activities running in parallel, which we know as work streams. The seventh components of our project plan is resourcing. And in particular, here I’m thinking about the people on your project. Two tools are commonly used for resource planning. The first is what’s called an organization breakdown structure, where we take our work breakdown structure, and we allocate individuals to each activity. Some activities will have more than one individual allocated to them. Others will have a single individual Many of your project team members will be allocated to multiple activities. clusters of activities will be supervised by a named individual. Those are often known as work packages. And at the top are clusters of clusters of activities. The major areas of work are known as work streams, and they are led by workstream leaders. The other tool that is commonly used is a linear responsibility chart or a racy chart. And whilst technically, these are two slightly different shots. Often what is actually a linear responsibility chart is often called a racy chart because of its similarity. But these charts, all they do is they take each of the tasks and they allocate individuals to those tasks, giving different individuals different roles. These role activity type charts are easy to use. And particularly good for publicizing and communicating who is doing what on your project. Engaging effectively with stakeholders is a crucial part of delivering project success. So communications is the eighth element of our project plan. Here, you need some form of stakeholder communication plan, which sets out which stakeholders are going to receive what Communications at what times, using what formats, and then allocate responsibilities as well. As stakeholder communication plan is not difficult to draw up in principle. The hard work goes into thinking about precisely what message needs to be delivered and how best to deliver it. Not forgetting that sometimes tone of voice whether that’s written or spoken voice is crucial to communicate the message effectively. The ninth elements of your project plan needs to address the question of governance, making sure that your project is transparent and accountable and conforms to good organizational practice. You need to think about who’s going to monitor and oversee your project, and how important project decisions are going to be made. Indeed, how the direction for the project is going to be set, and reset if things change. This is about governance. And what your plan needs to reflect are two things. Firstly, the governance roles and responsibilities and the best way to deal with that is often to create written terms of reference for the key players in the governance chain, the project manager, the sponsor or project director, and the project board or steering group. And the second thing is to identify which individuals will fulfill those roles and to confirm that they have read and understood and accepted their terms of reference. The final elements of our project plan is risk. Strictly speaking, risk management is a project control rather than a project plan. But our risk register the primary tool for risk management is a planning tool as much as a control tool enables you to record every risk you identify, and not only to record your evaluation of that risk, but your plan for dressing it. Indeed, in a full risk register, you may have several lines of risk actions against each risk, identify what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and who needs to do it. A project that does not have a risk register and use it actively is one that is putting itself at grave risk. So there we have 10 components of a project plan. Now, I’m not saying that your project may not need more components. And I’m not necessarily saying that every project needs all of these components. But for me, these are the top 10. Of course, there may be others, things like a health and safety plan, for example. But if you’ve got those 10 components, and you’ve done your work well, in preparing the plan in each of those 10 dimensions, you will have a really solid ground to move from planning into delivery or implementation. And of course, delivering your project will be the subject because the next of these short videos that we’ll be talking about planning your project I might claim found founder of online pm courses, and I’ve enjoyed presenting this information to you.