What is a project plan?
The term project plan is very literal. Project plans can be as complicated or as simple as you want them to be. At their cores, however, they're tools that outline the life cycles of entire projects from start to finish.
For example, imagine that you're on day one of working on a new project. That new project is the planning and execution of your company's annual conference, which will take place in 6 months.
...hopefully you have a solid project plan in place! 😉
All jokes aside, your project plan would outline all the steps that you and your team members need to take between day one and the day of your annual conference for it to be a roaring success. It would act as a roadmap guiding you through the project planning process, reminding you of deliverables, milestones, and benchmarks along the way. View our project outline template here for more information.
No two project plans are alike, but they usually include the following:
- Project goals & objectives.
- Project scope. In other words, where does this project begin, and where does it end? 💭
- General project schedules, timelines, processes, and deliverables. This section addresses what steps need to be taken to work towards the final product. It can also include a work breakdown structure (WBS).
Pro Tip: Make sure the voices of all stakeholders are heard in this section. 🙏
- A communication schedule.
- Project tools & resources. Make sure to cover budget, systems, workflows, and products & services that need to be sourced both internally & externally. You should also establish key project team members and project stakeholders here.
- Risk assessment, limitations, and dependencies.
What can a project plan do for me?
Use a project plan for your next project because it will...
- Give the project manager, project team, and project stakeholders a clear idea of the specific project's life cycle from its kickoff to its conclusion. You'll make everything transparent, decrease (bad) surprises, increase efficiency & clarity, and keep everyone on the same page.
We all know how much project stakeholders love to be kept in the loop, right? 😜
- Help you get stuff done, plain and simple. Project plans are perfect project management tools, allowing you to measure project progress against initial projections.
- Force you to answer the big questions right off the bat. Being aware of your new project's big picture from the beginning will make the planning process easier every step of the way.
- Save you time and money. Who doesn't love to hear that? 💸 Project plans ensure that project team members are organized and know exactly what they're supposed to be doing from the get-go. Detailed project plans also provide accurate financial pictures when it comes to budgeting, making it less unlikely that you'll overspend or run into large costs that weren't accounted for. Phew!
Slite's free project plan template
Here at Slite, we want your next project to go off without a hitch. We don't want you to get unnecessarily bogged down with stress and confusion... we want you to be able to bask in the glow of your successful project! 😇
...that's where our project plan template comes in. Don't let the prospect of project planning intimidate you! Your project team will be able to put together an effective, collaborative, and exciting project plan using our template in no time.
We can't wait to see what you come up with.
How can I get started?
What's next? Get going on your project plan template by:
📝 Laying The Groundwork
Before you start your project management plan... make sure that you've done all your homework! You'll need to have a crystal clear idea of your project's needs, general context, and objectives.
In order to do this, meet with your client and/or other key project stakeholders. You'll need to understand their specific visions for the project, as well as their expectations throughout the project's life cycle.
Pro Tip: Don't shy away from asking direct questions at this stage. The more you understand your client's vision for this project, the better. Your future self will thank you.
👥 Putting Together A Dream Team
Now that you have a strong understanding of your new project, determine the dream team you want working on it. Think about project manager(s), team members, and potential external collaborators.
Depending on the specific project and project size, these people may span across different departments and companies.
💡 Brainstorming An Outline
Now that you've put together the perfect team, use that team to get your project plan off the ground. Make project planning a collaborative process and use the strengths of diverse team members to your advantage.
Don't be afraid to edit, rewrite, and edit again!
...voila! You're well on your way to putting together a solid project plan. Enjoy the ride! We'll be waiting to hear about your project's successes. 😉