how to write a project management plan

Different project managers have different preferences for the tools of project management. A project manager efficiently plans a project with the input of the team and the stakeholders. It is a formal document which is approved and holds enough value for a project. The document carries information regarding project execution plan, how to monitor and control the progress of project, complete management plan and task breakdown. Project management plan also highlights the scope of the project, its timeline, budget, deliverables and other essentials of the project. The project life cycle is carefully planned by the project managers. To get maximum support from the project manager, try to keep the project plan organized and precise.

Key Features of Project Plan Templates:

There are some common key features of project plan template which are explained below:

  • Executive Summary of the project: A quick precise overview of the project.
  • Goals: The expected goals that you are likely to achieve by the end of the project.
  • Target audience: The ones who are going to benefit from the project.
  • Responsibilities: To attain the goals there is some responsibility on the team.
  • Tasks: Reaching directly to the final outcome is a myth. Several small tasks will help you lead towards the final outcome of the project.
  • Deliverables: The project is broken down into tangible and intangible deliverables. It is always good to state them.
  • Available Resources: Mention the available resources to keep the working power in mind.
  • Risk analysis: Risk identification is a critical step of project planning. Identify the risks that can act as a hurdle in project’s progress.
  • Key milestones: Different milestones are set according to the phases of the project. These milestones keep the team motivated and focused.
  • Timeline of the project: After having in depth project analysis you can propose the expected timeline of the project.
  • Budget Allocation: Budget is allocated according to the deliverables or the final outcome of the project.
  • Communication plan: Mode of communication is decided prior to the project start. A good communication will lead the project in an organized manner.
  • Evaluation Strategy: Certain criteria are set on the basis of which project or product evaluation is carried out.

Useful Project Management Templates PMBOK Standards.

PMBOK standards are most widely accepted and used by the companies to manage plans and documents regarding project management. PMBOK stands for Project Management Body of Knowledge. The project management is divided into 5 process groups according to PMBOK which are as follows;

  • Initiation group: This is the introductory stage of the project which processes development of project charter, names of relevant stakeholders and marks their involvement in the project.
  • Planning group: it contains the planning stages of the project like organizing the plan of the project, budget allocation, work breakdown structure and the scope of the project.
  • Controlling group: This group works on the tracking of project’s progress. It covers cost control, resources control as well as quality control.
  • Closing Group: It processes the information about the closing phase of the project.

Here are important and useful templates according to PMBOK.

  1. Project Integration Management:

This is the fundamental plan of the project just like the project charter which is used in the initiation phases of the project. This document is related to the project manager assignment. It helps to develop a roadmap of the project and carries information regarding the approved stakeholder and sponsors. As the project progresses it can be used for tracking as it has all the documentation about the work, key deliverables and the milestones of the project.

  1. Project Scope Management:

Scope management is an integral part of project management. It is a detailed document carrying information regarding the final product of the project. It also defines the scope of the project and gives a proper well defined work break down structure. Scope is changed as the project progresses so scope management is required to align the rest of the things of the project.

  1. Project Time Management:

The project is further broken down into achievable tasks, starting and ending dates of these tasks tell about the time consumption on that particular task.  To determine the overall time for the project completion the total time spent on each task is calculated which gives the tentative time period required for a project. There are several factors on which time management depends.

  1. Project Cost Management:

Cost management requires good cost estimation tools and an experienced team. The project manager with the help of the team carefully draws a cost allocation plan to keep the stakeholders and contractors updated about the happenings of the project. You might face cost differences between estimated and actual costs. The main goal is to manage the cost as per the defined budget.

  1. Project Quality Management:

If a team is investing time and money in a project they must have defined proper quality standards of the project. And not meeting these quality standards will lead the project towards failure. Quality assurance plan is made according to the deliverables or the final product of the project to maintain the standards.

  1. Project Human Resource Management:

The most important resource that requires management is the project’s team. They are treated as an important asset of the project. The human resource management will identify the roles of each team member. Also, new talent acquisition is also part of human resource management. The project manager is responsible to manage the team efficiently and to avoid conflicts.

  1. Project Communication Management:

A project manager with the consent of the team and stakeholder decides the best tool and mode of communication to keep things running smoothly. It is important to keep the team and stakeholders informed about the current status of the project.

  1. Project Risk Management:

Risk management completely changes the perspective of the project. The risks are identified and alternates are planned staying in budget and time limitation. Better risk management will directly impact the progress of the project.

  1. Project Stakeholder Manager:

Identifying just the right stakeholders is one critical step in project management. List down impact and involvement of the stakeholders. This will help you to conclude the expectations of stakeholders from a project.

How to Write a Successful Project Plan Template using Excel?

Different project managers have different strategies to write a successful project plan. But some major steps stay constant. We will take you step by step to make your own project plan;

  1. Add headers to the spreadsheet

Leave the first row of the table. In the 2nd row start creating headers like tasks, task owners, start and end date of each task, number of days for each task, status and you can add expense or cost of each task. You can add or remove these headers as per your choice and need. Center align these headers and highlight them to make them prominent. You can also change the color of these headers according to your choice.

  1. Enter the information of your project

Start with the first column; enter all the tasks you have sorted in the project’s plan. We recommend you to assign each task a title for clarity and better organization. You can also divide these tasks in the phases planning, initiation, development, operation and termination. Enter the details regarding the task managers. Also add the starting and ending dates of the tasks. The days will be calculated automatically in the respective column of the spreadsheet. Keep the status of each task updated. You can mark them as done or complete, in progress or overdue. After adding all the information in the spreadsheet, organize the data. Align the text and you can highlight the tasks that are completed as green or any color of your choice.

  1. Add colors according to the status:

To give it a better visual appeal you can customize the colors of the status of each task accordingly. Also you can change the font style and size or highlight the important stuff of the spreadsheet. Either change the color of your text or fill the cell with a background color. You can select the cell in which you want to change the color. You can use the fill color option. The main purpose is to make the visual appeal better.

  1. Create proper timeline:

The data is now already in the spreadsheet, now you need to set up a project timeline. To increase the transparency, make a realistic timeline. Keeping the due dates under consideration, design a proper timeline. Add the starting and ending dates and select the type of date format you want to put in. You can add colors in the timeline of the project.

  1. Final Touches

Add grid lines to the project plan spreadsheet. Change the font or text size if you want. Before the headers add the name of the project, project manager, key deliverables, start and end date and overall progress of the project.

Project Management Life-Cycle Templates:

A project life cycle is categorized into different phases. Each phase has its own uniqueness and distinct concept. The division into phases makes the project management effective. Throughout the life cycle of the project there are a number of templates used as project management tools. Some important ones are mentioned below with the examples.

Initiation Project Plan Templates:

The project initiation template has some features that amplify the start of the project. It gives a better understanding of the project. It also helps you to make a feasible plan for the project. The main components of project initiation document are;

Objectives, project scope, timeline, budget, approach of the project, quality management, risk analysis and management, success criteria, key deliverables.

To write an effective project initiation document you need to consult with the stakeholder. Arrange frequent meetings to get their point of view. Try to keep the initiation document concise and to the point. It becomes easier for the contractors to comprehend such precise documents. Make sure the main idea is highlighted. A realistic initiation document will gain more attention and involvement. Some important project initiation templates are listed below;

  1. Project Proposal Template:

A project proposal is formally presented having details like objectives, benefits, tentative timeline and budget. Whole team is involved in writing a project proposal. The best ideas are noted down and put into the final document. You need to have a clear image of the project to write a proposal. Explain how positively the project will impact society. Define measurable goals of the project. A comprehensive scope is also a part of the project proposal. Define an estimated timeline and evaluation criteria of the project. Try to clarify each and every aspect of the project because it is going to gather the attention of stakeholders and investors.

  1. Project Scope Statement:

This document is written by project manager to outline the project details and highlight the expected outcomes. A scope statement can be used to monitor the progress of project. It is a formal document which is accepted by the team, sponsors and stakeholders. Templates are available to write your own scope state proficiently.

  1. Project Charter Template:

This document contains summary of all the important information regarding a project. Project Charter basically elaborates the existence or the need of the project. Once the document is accepted by all the parties involved in the project, no further changing or modification can be done.

  • Project Planning Templates:

Planning phase is quite extensive and requires most attention and input. The project managers, team and stakeholders go through several meetings in the planning stage. The better the planning the better the grip on the project it will be. Always try to make a realistic plan about everything in a project. Several things are going side by side and to make it easier project planning templates are available, important ones are listed below;

  1. Project Timeline Template:

You can set up your project timeline by using excel templates. The tool gives detailed information about the time investment in each task of the project. And collectively tells about the total time required to finish a project considering the starting and ending dates of the tasks.  A bar chart represents the timeline. You can add colors to make it presentable.

  1. Work Breakdown Structure Template

Work breakdown structure is a tool which helps you to visualize your tasks, deliverables and sub tasks of the project. The main purpose is to break down the main goals or final product into small achievable tasks. The decomposition makes it easier to get to the final outcome. The work breakdown structure is created in a form of tree with the main branches as tasks and mini branches as sub tasks. This is the most important template for controlling and planning a project. It works well for the bigger project as they require more task organization.

  1. Project Budget Template:

It contains all the financial details of the project. It helps you make cost estimation to fulfill the requirement of the project. There are different ways for cost estimation, the way is to allocate budget to each task and calculate the sum. Deviations are expected from the estimated cost. But a professional project manager knows how to keep a balance between estimated and actual cost. All sorts of expenses like labor cost, raw materials expense, travel expense and other bills are added. There are different templates for budget management. Small scale projects apply daily or weekly budget plan while bigger projects are likely to have monthly or over project budget templates.

  • Project Tracking Template:

To keep an eye on project’s progress tracking is required. Tracking templates makes the job easier. Tracking keeps you aware about the current status of the project. It also keeps the team involved and motivated.

  1. Expense Tracking Template

To keep the finances of the project well managed and under the limit expense tracking is carried out. Templates are available to save time and energy. A project manager can select the suitable template as per the requirement of the project. The main headers of the expense tracking template are, mode of payment, description, category of expense and the total amount. On the top of the spreadsheet total, spent and remaining budget is recorded.

  1. Project Tracking Template:

No matter how well you project is managed; you still require a tracking system to keep up with the happenings of the project. Project tracking is a must for bigger projects. It keeps you updated about each task status and its expenses. Tasks can be categorized on the priority basis. Deliverables are also monitored in reference with the deadlines. Strict monitoring is requires to keep the project running smoothly according to the planning.

  1. Simple Task Tracker Template:

To keep a check on the team performance task trackers are used. Templates are available that provide daily, weekly, monthly and yearly tracking. Daily tracking is good for smaller projects or marketing employees. It keeps them motivated and focused. Tasks are arranged with their titles. To differentiate between the priorities different colors are assigned to each level of priority for clarity. Starting and ending dates are added. Estimated number of days or hours for that particular task are recorded. Status of each task or any additional notes column is added.

  • Project Closure Template:

Project closure is a critical step and requires utmost attention. You need to finalize everything in the closure phase. All the team collaboratively decides the closure of the project. Project closure also monitors how well everything is executed in the project. Financial matters are cleared and formal documentation is done to keep the record of the payments. Performance reports are created to mark the closure of the project and check the achievements of each team member/.

  1. Project Closure Report Template:

Project closure is very important as the right execution of the project’s plan is required. Each step of the project requires the same amount of attention and professionalism. Project closure report is created to avoid the conflicts or misunderstanding that can arise in future. Also, project completion criteria is set to measure the achievements of the project in the end. Any outstanding bills are also added to keep them in the record as well. You will seek approval of the closure report from the stakeholders of the project. The final step shouldn’t be ignored as it is the most critical step. A formal report is written and approved by the managers and stakeholders.

  1. Post Project Review Template:

It is always good to have a thorough review of whatever you have done in a project. It also gives information about the performances, flaws, and quality checks. Also, it  gives information about the points you can work on in future to get a better final project. It has a complete summary of the project.

Download Template: Project Management Templates

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