Effective planning ensures that the Project Manager can effectively communicate with all the staff working on the project, which in turn will help them to effectively control the project. Subsequently the fourth theme essential to Project Management is the plan theme. For the purposes of this article we will define the plan as the means by which the final product is to be presented to the owners. ie Where and when things are to be done, who is to do them, how long they should take and how much they should cost.
Who is the planning for?
As a Project Manager without a clearly defined plan you really would be setting yourself up to fail in the project. However, the project plan isn’t just for your own use. The process of drawing up the project plan will require input from many different personnel – all of which need regular access to the plan so that they can measure their individual contributions toward the culmination of the plan. After all, without knowing what is required of them, what resources they need to achieve a given outcome, when it is needed by and the other targets they are working to – you can hardly blame them for any shortfall in their performance. Your plan gives them a minimum standard to perform to – plain and clear for all to see.
A plan – not just a series of charts.
It can be all too easy for a Project Manager to fall in to the trap of thinking that a series of diagrams and charts showing timelines, cost analysis and management structures will constitute a plan. They do not! A plan needs those things but it also needs detailed descriptions of the aims and objectives to be met and as necessary itemizing in great detail the quality standards to be adhered to. The project plan also needs to include specific details of the risks likely to be encountered and how they are to be dealt with.