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  • Print publication year: 2016
  • Online publication date: June 2018

100 - Writing project plans

from Section 3 - Activities and tools

Summary

Writing project plans

THE PLANNING PROCESS is a crucial activity for any project to be successful and developing your staff in this area is vital to ensuring that your service grows and adapts to change. Effective project planning ensures that outcomes are delivered on schedule and within budget and that everyone involved knows what is expected of them. In this Tip we will discuss developing the initial project brief and the creation of project plans, which should be monitored throughout the lifetime of the project.

The brief

The project brief or specification is sometimes called a project implementation document (PID) or a project charter, and this will be informed by the project management approach that is used (Mind Tools, 2016). Whatever you call this document, it will clearly define the project proposal and intended outcomes, including as much detail as possible. If the parameters of the project are not clearly outlined from the outset, this will contribute to the project's not being completed or failure to achieve the intended outcomes (Young, 2013). It is therefore essential that all resource requirements, timescales, team roles and limitations are described in detail from the beginning. The entire project team and all relevant stakeholders must be involved in developing the brief, to mitigate misunderstandings and to manage expectations. Involving the entire project team in the planning process and securing agreement about their roles and the project outcomes means that the project is more likely to succeed and individuals are more likely to commit to fulfilling their responsibilities.

There is no single approach to presenting a project brief, and to some extent this will be dictated by your organization, the methodology you use and the size of the project. As a minimum, your project brief should answer the following questions (Young, 2013; Mind Tools, 2016):

  • • Why is the project needed?
  • • What is the scope of the project?
  • • What are the boundaries of the project?
  • • What are the principal objectives?
  • • Who are the key stakeholders?
  • • What resources are needed?
  • • How much will it cost?
  • • Who needs to be involved and what are their roles?
  • • What risks have been identified?
  • • What is the expected output or outcome?
  • • How long will the project take?
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