A project management plan is a formal approved document that has all the details of the project. It is a live document which means that it is not just written once and buried in the repository but constantly updated, reviewed and referred to. It is very detailed and is the “go-to” document for any information about the project. The project management plan is not just the planned schedule like some people wrongly think. The schedule is just one component of the document. The project management plan consists of the following components -
– The planned cost and schedule of the project is detailed out and baselined. It lists the milestones and dates for the milestones. Acceptable cost and schedule variances are mentioned.
– The scope of the project is defined and a reference to the scope document is given. The plan addresses - - Scope of the project - People responsible for scope - Scope Change Process - Scope measurement and verification process and variables to consider.
– The process of gathering, documenting and analysing requirements is mentioned. The tools to be used like requirements traceability matrix like will be listed.
– A high level schedule is shown in the project plan with a reference to the detailed plan in the project management tool (e.g. MS Project) where it is made. This will help all interested parties to know the start and end of all stages of the project and the delivery dates.
– The project cost and the process for cost management is mentioned here. The cost is typically shown as human resources cost, Hardware & Software costs, Licensing fees, Hosting services, Travel Expenses and Miscellaneous Expenses (Project Party, Client Visits) etc. It sets the standards for measuring, reporting and controlling costs. The acceptable variances are defined. For big or complex projects, a separate cost management plan is made and is referenced here.
- The quality management topic states the quality objectives of the project. The quality process to be followed is mentioned along with key quality deliverables. The conditions for client acceptance of project delivery are listed. Quality measures will be listed here. Fo example, the project is ready for delivery if the number of defects are less than 10 and all of them have low priority. Schedules for inspections, audits, formal testing are set up. The defect tracking system and process to use it to ensure defects are raised, fixed, tested and closed is set up.
– This section will describe how resources will be acquired, developed and managed. The details of team members, their designations and roles in the project are mentioned. Information on trainings undertaken, skill gaps and measures to close the gaps. Other information like long leave, resignation etc. are also in the plan. The plan should have details on team building events, rewards and recognition.
It can also have the RACI matrix gives a view on which roles and participation of the role in completing a task/assignment. For example, the Team Lead of a module is accountable for the delivery of the module but the module team members are responsible for the tasks to complete the module.
- The project plan states the reporting structure of the project in terms of who reports to whom, what is to be reported and the frequency of reporting. It mentions the escalation hierarchy in case of issues/risks. It gives reference to the templates for various communication reports like weekly status report, design review, management report etc.
- The project plan must contain the risks of the project as seen by the stakeholders. This should be updated regularly during the project lifecycle. New risks should be added. Old risks can be deemed as not applicable. Each risk should be given a severity and probability rating. The steps to mitigate the risks must be detailed. If there is too much information, a reference to the risk management plan should be given.
– It defines the steps and responsibilities for procurement process. It lists conditions to decide the make-buy process and vendor selection criteria and process. For big projects where procurement itself is a big process, it can be a separate document with reference in the project management plan.
- Different people within the project team meet external persons who have a role to play in the project. For example, business analysts meet up with client representatives and the procurement team meets the vendors. Protocols to communication and manage various aspects of the project with the external people are defined in the project management plan.
The project management plan is not easy to create. It takes time and thinking through all aspects to develop a reasonable plan. Due to time constraints, project managers sometimes use an earlier project's plan and change some of the major points and dive into execution. But this is a typical case of the phrase - “Failing to plan is planning to fail” and can put the project into considerable risk.
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