Well Planned Is Half Done

A well created ‘project plan’ is crucial to successfully managing and controlling a WLP project. Building a project from a project charter requires collecting more information, analyzing and refining to arrive at a further well-defined scope for the project (project scope statement).

Breaking it down…

We itemize the work involved in delivering the scope (deliverables) into the required number of levels of manageable pieces of work (work breakdown structure) to understand and define the activities required to produce the deliverables (activities).

What comes when…

Putting all the activities in a progressing order, taking into consideration the relationships and dependencies between them (sequencing), we decide what skills and expertise (human resources) and other resources like equipment and material are required to complete each of them (estimate resources) and figure out how much time each will require (estimate duration). Now we have a map of activities (network diagram) that gives us a better picture of how the activities are related in space and time.

Most importantly, the network diagram can show us one or more paths of activities that are critical to meeting the project timelines (critical path), so that we can watch them closely. The whole planning process will most likely be an iterative one and it’s best done with the involvement of the project team and the stakeholders.

Using all the information in the network diagram, we create a calendar view of the activities (Gantt chart) with each tasks start and end dates, taking into consideration the work calendar. We will also add milestones to mark the completion of some significant level or phase of the project and status checks at significant points of progress in the project. This will become your schedule to monitor the activities of the project (project schedule).

Who will be there…

While assigning human resources to the activities, you will also in parallel create a potential project team, defining required roles, authority, responsibilities and competencies (human resource plan).

What about the money…

Based on the work breakdown structure (WBS), we will be able to develop an approximation of the funds required for the project (project budget). We can do this by estimating the cost of all resources including labor, supplies, equipment, services and facilities of the activities and then aggregate them to a preferred level in the WBS (work-package), further up to the project level. We will agree with the sponsor on an acceptable approximation (rough order of magnitude), which will become more accurate as the project progresses.

Now we can put together a project plan that will include the work breakdown structure (project scope), schedule in a Gantt chart (project schedule), the cost of the various deliverables, the budget (project cost) and how and when the resources will be applied (human resources plan). It will also include a plan for how we will manage communication with the stakeholders, in terms of ‘to who’, ‘what’ and ‘when’ (communication plan).

If the project requires external resources or outsourcing of any part or whole of the project, it is best to include a plan to manage the various external resources and vendors (procurement plan).

The project plan becomes the documented all-in-one declaration (baseline) according to which we will manage and track the progress of the various activities, and thereby successfully direct the project towards completion and deliver the agreed outcome.

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