A Detailed Guide to Prepare a Project Management Plan [free template]

Editorial Team

Project Management Plan Template

What is a Project Management Plan?

A project management plan is a formal document that outlines how a particular project is suppose to be executed, monitored and controlled.  A project management plan is very important because it is used as a guide throughout the project as a reference document, to ensure a project is completed successfully according to defined scope and schedule. Project management plan helps the project team in running the project from start to finish.

Project Management Plan Vs. Project Charter: What’s The Difference?

Project charter and project management plan are almost similar documents, but there is a difference between them. A project management plan is a document which outlines in detail how the project will be executed, monitored and controlled while a project charter is a brief document prepared for to initiate a project.

The difference between project charter and project management plan is that a project charter needs to be approved by project sponsor while a project plan needs to be approved by key project stakeholders.

The following are more differences between a project charter and project management plan;

Differences Between Project Charter and Project Management Plan in Scope

While a project charter is considered as a summary document which is mostly one page in length, it must contain the following; 

  • The project charter must show the role of each team member.
  • The project charter main purpose is to initiate a project, while project plan is the detailed planning of the project prepared during project planning stage
  • Project charter only includes high level milestones, while a project management plan detail project schedule.
  • Project charter list out high-level risks while project management plan detail risks info such as risk approach, risk register, etc.
  • Project charter only contain key stakeholders, while project management plan has a complete list of project stakeholders including clients, vendors and affected users.

A project management plan must include clear instructions on how a project is supposed to be executed, managed, and also controlled. It should contain information on the following;

  • Project plan has more info available such as project issues, project risks, change control procedure, communication management plan, procurement management plan, human resource management plan, scope management plan
  • Must state the roles, responsibilities for every person in the project.
  • Must have an organization structure that is supposed to be followed. 
  • For each deliverable, the plan must indicate the task to be done and effort to be put in place.
  • It must contain all the phases of the project and all project activities.
  • It must identify the work breakdown formulae or structure. 
  • It must indicate all the project milestones and timelines. 
  • It must document the inter-dependencies of the project. 
  • It Includes project budget and detail budget breakdown.

While the project charter has most of the information contain in the project plan, the information is not comprehensive enough.

Differences Between Project Charter and Project Management Plan in Application

  • In terms of application, a project charter is presented to the project sponsor for approval to initiate the project while project management plan is the document use for detail planning of the project.
  • A project plan remains an important document that run throughout the period of the project but a project charter creates a foundation for which a project plan is created.
  • A project plan is a document which a project manager prepares during project planning and will be used as a reference and updated throughout the project

When to Prepare a Project Management Plan?

As soon as the project sponsor approve the project charter, the project manager will then incorporate all the inputs from all the stakeholders and use the basic draft from the project charter and come up with a comprehensive project management plan. The project management plan will now be the document that will be used to carry out the project until completion. 

Who Should Prepare a Project Management Plan?

The project management plan is prepared by the project team, which includes the project manager after gathering all the inputs from all the stakeholders of the project. The project manager is supposed to convene a meeting of all the project stakeholders, and discuss all the projects issue, gathering opinions for everyone in the team. The points taken from this meeting will form the basis of creating a project management plan that the project team will use. 

Who Should Approve a Project Management Plan?

Once a project management plan has been prepared, it is presented to the project team, which includes all key stakeholders for final deliberation and approval. The project manager is to present the project management plan to the stakeholders during a meeting. The ultimate final approval will be done with the project manager, who heads the project team.  It is the key stakeholders who have the responsibility of approving the project management plan.

Why It is Important to prepare a Project Management Plan? 

A project management plan is essential for the following reasons;

  • It gives a direction that the project team follows from the start of the project to the closure of the project. The project team identifies the task to be completed and allocates each task to each member hence the smooth flow of the process.
  • It gives room for the fair use of resources. Planning enables adequate use of resources, and this will minimize any excessive usage of resources. 
  • It addresses the problems proactively and fairly. Planning ensures there is an anticipation of risks and issues that might occur during the project, and this can be dealt with accordingly. 
  • Through planning, there is confident in the project team of completing a project. When there is proper planning for a project, there is minimal room for failure, thus ensuring that the project is completed within time and budget. 
  • Planning offers a reliable timelines prediction and budgets. Because of planning, a company knows what time a project will be completed and therefore helps to make decisions within those timelines and reduces the possibility of loss resources. 

What Is Included In A Project Management Plan?

1.   Project Management Approach

A project management approach refers to how a project is managed in terms of methodology and approach. The project management approach is fundamental in any project as it will determine the outcome of the project. This will include the efficiency of the project and how effective the project will be a whole.

2.   Project Scope

Project scope is a document which is part of project management planning that consists of determining and documenting a list of specific project goals, deliverables, tasks, costs and deadlines.

It is the guideline that is used by the project team to implement project tasks. Within a project scope, there are set procedures and limits that need to be followed. Project scope is what guides every aspect of the project, and through it, each task is completed according to the requirement. Project scope must include project objectives, expected outcome, justification, assumptions and limitations, and product description.  Project scope must be achievable, measurable, time-bound, relevant, and specific.  

3.   Project Deliverables

Product deliverables are the end product of the project and should be delivered at various project deadlines set out by the project management team. The project deliverables should be given to the customer as per the agreed terms. A project management plan should include detail information on product deliverables, which spells out all of the details regarding the deliverables. Such information about the deliverables can be size, quantity, quality, among other standards depending on your project. Examples of project deliverables can be proposal report, procurement management system, tender document, new equipment/tools, a completed product (bridge, building), among others.

4.   Project Milestones

A project milestone refers to a report during the course of a project that indicate a critical achievement in a project lifecycle. Milestones are necessary because it shows the project has progressed and what is remaining to be completed in a project lifecycle. Every project must have a project milestone that can be used by the project in determining if the project will be completed on time.  A project management plan should detail project milestones throughout the lifecycle of the project. Key project milestones should be clearly indicated as well as other project milestones. An example of a project milestone statement can be, ‘The first floor of the building should be completed within the first three months of the project construction.’

5.   Detailed Project Schedule

A project schedule is a listing that contains the project details like activities, deliverables, milestones, and that have a designated start time and end time. The purpose of the project schedule in project management is to indicate the work to be done, the person to do the work, the resources to be allocated for the job, and the deadline required to work. A project management plan should contain a detailed project schedule that will help in managing the various task of the project. Depending on your project, you can decide to have a simple project schedule for a small project or a graphically detailed program for large projects.

6.   Project Stakeholders

Project stakeholders are people, organizations that form part of the project team. A project management plan should list all the stakeholders of the project and identify each one of them according to their roles. Project stakeholders can be classified into two, i.e., key stakeholders and general stakeholders. Key stakeholders should be only project sponsor, project manager, client, and project team members.

General project stakeholders in a project can be persons or organizations, for example, company employees, communities, managers, clients, suppliers, administrators, investors, organizations, among others. 

7.   Roles and Responsibilities

A project management plan should detail the roles and responsibilities of various people involved in a project. It should start with the project manager to other members of the project team, the roles and responsibilities should be clearly stated. This will help in the smooth running of the project. It will also avoid duplication of functions and conflicts that arise from failing to be accountable when a problem arises.

8.   Change Control Process

Change control is a systematic way in which all the changes in a project are managed. In every project, some adjustments might need to changed mid-way the project, and this requires a proper way of handling the transition. The change control process helps in tracking down all the changes made during the course of a project lifecycle. It aims to ensure that each shift is reviewed, managed, and approved before it is implemented.

9.   Project Constraint

Project constraint refers to anything that limits, dictates any action taken by the project team regarding a project. The three main project constraints are time, scope, and cost. There are other project constraints, but these are the main ones. The project constraint should clearly be indicated in the project management plan.

10. Project Issues & Risks

A risk is a situation, factor, event, or action that affect any project. Any project must have a potential chance that will affect the project, and if the risks are not addressed, it will affect the project significantly. Making provision for these project risks is one way of ensuring the project will run without any interruption.

A project management plan should identify project risks that come with each project and classify them accordingly. Identify high-level risks and deal with them early in order not to hinder the progress of the project. Examples of project risks can be a lack of training for the project team, inadequate workforce, rise in the cost of production, conflicts that arise from stakeholders, late suppliers, among others. It is important to note that there can be real risks too. These are risks that add more value to the project and contribute to the project completed faster. For example, a reduction in the cost of supplies is beneficial to the project as it will lower the budget of the project.

A project issue is an event that affects the project in a negative way. Project issues do not necessarily project risks but hinder the progress of a project. The difference between project risk and a project issue is that risk is an event that is anticipated and can affect the project negatively or positively, while a project issue is an event that has already been identified and has an impact on the project objectives and progress.

11. Communication Management Plan

A communication management plan is a written content that includes all the communication methods and needs within a project. A communication management plan should consist of parties and persons responsible for any communication set up in a project.

12. Cost Management Plan

The cost management plan is the system that outlines various project’s costs and cost control within a project. This includes project allocation, cost control, project estimation for all the resources needed for the project. The importance of the cost management plan is that it enables you to manage the cost of any project so that you don’t go beyond the allocated budget of the project.

13. Procurement Management Plan

The procurement management plan is a document that manages all the procurements in a project. All the information regarding project procurement should be handled in a procurement system. The purpose of a procurement management plan is to consolidate all the information and processes related to project procurement in one place for easy management.

14. Quality Management Plan

A project management plan should consist of a quality management plan system as part of the project document. A quality management plan is a document whose sole responsibility is to manage the quality-related issues of a project. This includes maintaining quality standards for each deliverable, a listing of the quality requirement for each product needed for the project, among others.

15. Risk Management Plan

The risk management plan is a document that handles all the project risks and issues. It helps in identifying all the project related risks and classified, make provision for each risk. A risk management plan enables the project team to handle all the risks arising during the course of the project.

16. Human Resource Management Plan

The human resource management plan is a document that deals with handling employment issues in a project. This includes the number of employees required in a project, the payment of employees, and the recruiting of the employees. It helps in determining the required workforce for any project.

In conclusion, a project management plan is a key ingredient in ensuring that any project is successfully completed. Any project must have a project management plan that will help the project team in ensuring the project is run in the right manner.

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