Project plan involves defining and planning specifics of a project before starting the work to guide the team working on it.
Project Manager, Product Manager, Design Manager, Senior Designers
A project plan is usually created during the initial stage of a project where the project scope, objectives, deliverables, timelines, resources, and other important details are identified and documented.
After an initiative is agreed upon but not yet started, the project details need to be outlined. This helps all stakeholders align on the scope, expected outcomes, roles of team members, dependencies, important milestones, etc.
Basically, the project details need to be defined before the work starts. This is why a project plan is created.
A Project plan answers these simple but important questions for any project:
What needs to be done?
When it needs to be done?
Who is working on this project? Who are the stakeholders? Who is the client?
How is the project going to be run and co-ordinated?
What resources are required for the project?
What infrastructure / tools / software are going to be used?
A project plan is the right first step in starting any project. Clarity achieved with a project plan increases the likelihood of successful completion of the project.
Benefits of a project plan are as follows:
Arriving at a common understanding about the project specifics
Defining key stakeholders including decision makers, reviewers, project managers, and participants
Everyone understands their role in the project
Major deliverables are defined
Clear scope and volume of work
Prioritization of scoped work is done
Important milestones and overall timeline of the project is defined
Success metrics are defined
Gantt chart is most popularly used in project planning since it helps visualize the project activities on a timeline, map team members to each activity, give a view of dependencies, etc.
Other methods like writing a plan on a spreadsheet or a document are also used.
Different tools are used for different parts of project planning as follows:
Project management tool: Asana, Jira, Cubyts, Trello, etc.
Communication tool: Slack
Documentation tool: Google Sheets, Google Docs, Dropbox, etc.
Prepare: Do some pre-work to get clarity on what needs to be delivered and how. This could be done with research, audits, collecting references, stakeholder interviews, past data analysis, etc.
Define: Define a rough project plan, which includes:
Scope distributed in phases and each phase has a prioritized list of activities based on requirements
Timeplan and Milestones
Assign: Assign scoped activities to relevant team members and put the activities on timeline
Approve: Review with the defined project plan with necessary stakeholders and get an approval
Kickoff: You are ready to start the project!
1. Be specific.
2. Define milestones in agreement with the stakeholders.
3. Place each activity on the project timeline.
4. Call out what’s not included in the project plan.
5. List out any assumptions made.
6. Have key stakeholders identified.
7. Consider any risks or contingencies.
1. Don’t overallocate work.
2. Don’t assign work randomly.
3. Don’t forget to account for non-working days.
4. Don’t plan without considering stakeholders and team members.
Project plan template by Atlassian.
Cross-functional project plan template from Asana.
Effective templates to help you plan any creative project from Milanote.
Project Plan Template from SmartSheet.
Stay on track with a project plan that actually works from Asana.
How to Create a Project Plan in 5 Simple Steps from TeamGantt.