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It helps to focus the project by serving as the main source for project information initially, and then as the basis for controlling and measuring progress along the way. As such, it represents a pivotal role in project communications. The preparation of a project plan requires, first, the gathering and organization of relevant project information. Depending on the project’s context and origin, this may include information residing in existing documents such as a Project Proposal, Contract, User Requirements Specification, etc. The purpose and focus of the Project Management Plan however is to describe in project management terms, fundamentals relating to the project ‘what, why, who and how’. Having these clearly defined and communicated to all relevant project stakeholders can help reduce confusion, provide direction to the project team, and focus attention on project priorities and deliverables. The Project Plan also provides the framework for applying specialized techniques to determine project time and resource requirements, scope definition and risk exposure. These techniques are addressed in the ‘Project Planning’ topic area. The following is an outline of the main generic components of a project plan. These components may in fact be combined, and may have a different context or significance depending on the nature of the project. Perhaps the most important aspect of the Project Plan pertains to the underlying questions it I intended to answer. The answers to these questions up front in the project will help to ensure that the essential angles have been covered, before significant resources are applied. MISSION (‘What is the project’) The ‘mission statement’ describes what the project is, expressed in simple business terms. ex. ‘to put a man on the moon by end of the decade.’ This statement serves to enhance focus for the project efforts, and facilitate organizational understanding, buy-in and alignment. It may also include language reflecting the corporate ‘vision’ and how the project contributes to that vision, ex. `To be in the forefront of space exploration….`. Thus, particularly for projects which have a strategic importance within the organization, it may combine the current `mission` (project assignment..) with the longer term `vision` (where you want to be as an organization..). CHARTER (‘Who is mandated’, `On What Basis`, ‘Why’) The Project Charter formally recognizes the existence of the project, and formally establishes the authority and responsibility of the Project Manager. For internal projects, it may include a statement and/or signature of senior management. For external projects it may be a ‘preamble’ section of the contract itself. For example, it may start ‘NASA is authorized by congress to define, acquire and harness the necessary resources to ….’. It typically references the business need, including and reinforcing elements of the business case justifying the project. This includes the anticipated benefits or outcomes. It should be noted that in many cases these benefits will be measurable only after completion of the project.
OBJECTIVES (‘What ’will be achieved’) Objectives are statements that describe what specifically is expected to be achieved within the project’s mandate, in order to meet the overall project mission. Objectives should be “SMART”: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Based. To be specific and concrete, objectives should be deliverable-based. Therefore, the completion of an objective should be evident through the creation of one or more deliverables. • • land a manned spacecraft on the surface of the moon, enabling at least one astronaut to walk freely on the moon surface. collect rock samples and ensure procedures for safe handling upon re-entry to earth.
With the mission and objectives, the project becomes aligned. Typically, one or more objectives will help to achieve the project mission. STATEMENT OF WORK (‘What’ are deliverables’) Details the specific project requirements, as may be referenced in an RFP or contract. In certain cases may outlines specific functional capabilities. These deliverables may also include requested by-products of the project process, such as interim reports, demonstrations, etc • manned spacecraft capable of o reaching the moon o landing on its surface o exploring the surface o returning to earth with everyone alive • team recruited and trained to carry out the mission • scale model enabling full simulation…. • … Typically, one or more deliverables are identified for each objective, hence further extending alignment between the project mission and its activities. If on the other hand a deliverable doesn’t help to achieve a project objective, it may be that this deliverable is not required. CRITICAL SUCCESS FACTORS (‘What’ it takes to succeed) Success factors define key determinants, or conditions, of project success. These may be ‘technical expertise’, or ‘cross-functional leadership’, or ‘active customer involvement’. PROJECT SUCCESS CRITERIA (On what criteria will the project’s success be judged.) These measures will include both quantitative (ex on time, on budget) and qualitative. The latter may reflect the client/sponsor priorities, such as delivering ‘top quality’, or ‘recognition for commitment to the community’, or ‘zero tolerance reliability’. They may also reflect internal processes, such as effective change transition. STAKEHOLDER (COMMUNICATION) PLAN (‘Who’ is impacted, ‘How’ to involve them) Identifies those key individuals, or organizations, which have a clear ‘stake’ in the project’s success. For each, a brief statement of specific ‘needs’ being met by the project, or ‘concerns’ it represents. Finally, a note on what actions, and/or means and frequency of communication, will be employed to meet these needs and concerns.
SCOPE (STATEMENT) (‘What’ components and tasks) Defines the major components and sub-components of the project, and the principal phases through which they will be delivered. As such, it defines the ‘boundaries’ of what work the project entails, and the basis for further detailing scope in the form of a detailed ‘work breakdown structure’. SCHEDULE (‘When’) Completion dates of the major project deliverables and interim phases. In the initial stages of the Project Plan, and to support the Project Kickoff, schedule information may be limited to agreed delivery dates and a high level ‘milestone schedule’ or ‘master schedule’ of summary tasks. During the Project Planning phase, each of the project phases would be described in greater detail, including elements such as: • Objectives of phase • Owner (Responsible party and sign-off) • Key activities • Deliverables • Documents produced/approved COST (‘How much’) Total estimate of all project cost elements contained in the project estimate, including labour, materials, equipment, contingencies, overhead, and profit. In the initial stages, this may represent a ‘ballpark’ figure developed through parametric estimating, and subseqently replaced by a more detailed bottom-up estimate. QUALITY (‘According to What?’) Test standards, acceptance criteria, and procedures which define project quality requirements. RESOURCES (‘By whom’) List of major resources required and assigned to carry out the work. Includes team members and, for each one, status (regular or ad hoc), roles, responsibilities and authority. ASSUMPTIONS (‘Based on’) List of assumptions used in developing the project plan and estimate. This may include: - (specified) delay in approval milestones - (specified) time for client data entry based on (specified) use of resources - hardware and servers installed by (specified) date. - business requirements sign-off by (specified) date. CONSTRAINTS (‘Within..’) External events (dates), conditions (incl $), or impingements around which the project plan is developed.
RISK MANAGEMENT (‘What if NOT’) List of major risks confronting the projects Assessment of severity (HML) as determined by (1) probability and (2) potential implact. For each ‘H’igh risk, appropriate mitigation plans. and, for each, planned steps for mitigation. (This is a great team building exercise in itself..) PROJECT ORGANIZATION (‘Who’ and ‘How they interface’) Identification of Project Sponsor, Leader, and Team Members. For each, the Roles, Responsibilities, and Reporting Relationships. METHOD OF CONTROL (‘How ensure..’) - Tracking Method(s) - Standardized Reporting - Procedures for Status Updates and Change Control - Review Meetings (incl. who, when)
PROJECT PLAN Purpose of this Template: The Project Plan translates an agreed business proposal into a workable plan. It serves to: - address the main business issues which impact the project’s downstream success; provide a means to communicate this information to all key stakeholders, helping ensure buy-in and smooth implmentation. Project: __________________ PROJECT MISION
STATEMENT OF WORK
CRITICAL SUCCESS FACTORS
PROJECT SUCCESS CRITERIA
STAKEHOLDER (COMMUNICATION) PLAN
METHOD OF CONTROL
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