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How to Write a Project Plan 1/5 - Long or Short?

01.How to Write a Project Plan 1/5 - Long or Short?
02.How to Write a Project Plan 2/5 - Milestones & Tasks
03 How to Write a Project Plan 3/5 - Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
04.How to Write a Project Plan 4/5 - Detailing Dependencies
05.How to Write a Project Plan 5/5 - Resource Type & Quantity Required

Having at least checked the viability of the timeframes you have been asked to deliver to by creating a plan (Milestones) you are now ready to start write a project plan which in the business is also known as detailed planning. This is where the fun really starts!

The first thing you need to consider is how detailed a plan you want or need to write. Many rookie Project Managers make the mistake of going into incredible detail with no thought for how this will be maintained during the project lifecycle. It's almost as if they think that if they spend an inordinate amount of time creating an incredibly complicated plan, that somehow it will miraculously be followed and be delivered. If only that were true!

The reality is that having a project plan will not by itself achieve anything. Yes you as the Project Manager will be able to monitor progress and see which workstream is slacking but in order to get the project delivered you will still be required to run around chasing people, troubleshooting the inforseen and basically getting things done.

So when considering whether to write a long or short plan the things to consider and include are:

Please note these will be covered in more depth in additional sections which will be coming soon!

How Detailed a Plan?

Remember that a project plan isn't a "to do" list. I really can't emphasise that enough.

The amount of detail included in your plan should merely be sufficient to enable you to know when work has to be done, allocate that work effectively and monitor progress. Obviously teams can have infinite amount of tasks they need to perform in order to get work done. Everything from setting up environments to checking in code into version manager.

Do you really need to know all of this? Probably not. It all depends on how good your team resources are and how much confidence you have in their ability.

Personally I keep my plans short (under 400 lines) and trust my teams. The workstreams I have a bad feeling about, I keep a closer eye on them. This means at a higher level, not by micromanaging resources. Project Manager's who call their team leads numerous times a day just so they can tick off the tasks in their too detailed plan, quickly discover no-one wants to work on their projects! And once you have that reputation it is very hard to disprove it.

Plus remember that detailed plans have to be maintained. Do you really have enough time to spend 1-2 hours a day maintaining a plan? If you do then either you're managing a very small project, work insane hours or are in control of a project which is soon going to hit the buffers because you didn't spend enough time on the really important things.

Further, a detailed plan whilst looking very impressive at the outset often causes Project Manager's to lose sight of the big picture ie the overall objective and timelines. After all if a few tasks slip is it really a big deal in the grand scale of the project?

For example on a recent large project I managed, the Software Development team delivered their High Level Design 2 weeks late. I wasn't concerned even though development was already underway. The reason being that I knew that the slippage had arisen purely because of a shortage of resources to document the design, not because there were disagreements over the solution proposed.

How to Write a Project Plan 1/5 Long or Short? - Tip

You may well be faced with a large project which merits a long complicated plan. However be aware that you don't need to have just one massive master plan. It is far more efficient to have a number of smaller plans, perhaps by project phase.

01.How to Write a Project Plan 1/5 - Long or Short?
02.How to Write a Project Plan 2/5 - Milestones & Tasks
03 How to Write a Project Plan 3/5 - Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
04.How to Write a Project Plan 4/5 - Detailing Dependencies
05.How to Write a Project Plan 5/5 - Resource Type & Quantity Required

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