The Importance of Having a Comprehensive Project Management Plan
Everyone has heard the old adage, “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. First coined by the great American Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, it remains just as poignant today as it was in the late eighteenth century. Whether you are preparing for a recital, an exam, a sporting event, or even an important sales presentation, you know that in order for you to achieve your ultimate goal you first need to devise a plan of attack. Project management is no different.
In the world of business projects come in many different forms, shapes and sizes. In one company a project manager could be running a project on a micro-level, trying to produce results for one specific client. In another, a project manager may be tasked with running a macro-level project where there are a multitude of stakeholders around the world and the results could have major economic ramifications.
To illustrate this, let us look at supply chain management as an example. At the time of writing the UK faces a supply chain crisis that has led to shortages of fuel and certain foods. On a micro-level there will be project managers whose job it is to to get these products back into specific, local stores. On a macro-level there are those in high-ranking government positions that are responsible for getting such goods, en masse, into the country in the first place. But what do the project managers in these examples have in common? The answer… they all need a comprehensive plan in place in order for them to achieve their project goals.
Regardless of the sector you are working in, the size of the task, or the expected outcome, if you have been tasked with managing a project it is vital you incorporate a planning phase. To emphasise this we have outlined a number of benefits having a comprehensive plan can bring.
- Ensures a clear understanding of the project
During the planning phase a project’s goals and objectives are clearly defined for all those involved. Not only does this provide a quantitative measure of success, it ensures all stakeholders have an understanding of what the project is trying to achieve and the steps that need to be taken along the way to get there. Breaking a project down in such a way into measurable steps will also mean that you can easily track progress against set deadlines. If things start to lag or run behind schedule you will quickly know about it and can then take the necessary steps to rectify the situation.
- Learn from the mistakes of the past
When undertaking any new project it is important to reflect on previous projects of similar nature to assess what aspects went well and what elements did not go so well. Having a designated initial planning phase provides the perfect opportunity to do this as the conclusions drawn can be incorporated into the project plan. As the project manager, it is your responsibility to identify risks of project failures in advance. Reflecting on the mistakes of the past will therefore help you foresee any unwanted issues. The sooner you spot the risks, the more time you have to rectify them!
- It facilities ideas
Planning ahead of a project will give you the chance to collate ideas from all those involved. Whether it is ideas from your team, top management, suppliers or the client; it will ensure you consider the possibilities for every aspect of the project, whilst also highlighting any gaps in your knowledge that may require further research. Inviting stakeholders to voice their ideas and opinions at the start of a project will also ensure that they are engaged and on the same page when it comes to achieving a particular end goal.
- Informs Communication
Frequent and meaningful communication between stakeholders is essential for a project to run smoothly. A lack of communication among collaborators can lead to work being carried out incorrectly and cause important deadlines to be missed. As the project manager it is your responsibility to ensure that such issues don’t occur.
Having a defined project plan will make your life easier as it provides a structure for communication. If everyone involved is aware and invested in the plan then they know what their respective tasks are at a particular point, when they need to be completed and who they need to communicate with to achieve them. Having a plan also encourages communication as every stakeholder feels involved at every stage of the project and knows the role they have to play.
- Lead to a more efficient use of resources
As a project manager it is your role to make sure that resources are used efficiently on a project. Whether it’s ensuring there is adequate manpower, there is enough equipment, or there is the right amount of space, it is up to you to provide the necessary resources to complete a project within a certain budget. Having a comprehensive project plan in place will mean you know, from the get-go, what resources are needed at each stage of the project. Then, if there are any unforeseen issues where extra resources are required, you will know straight away what impact this could have on keeping with the budget.
Having a comprehensive project plan is essential to the success of a project. Whether you’re managing the team in government trying to remedy the UK supply chain crisis, or you’re the project manager in charge of maintaining deliveries to a local supermarket, you will need a solid plan in place to maximise the chances of achieving your end goal.
Interested in learning how to plan for a project effectively? At Training Bytesize we offer a number of project management plan courses that provide an in-depth look at project planning. To find out more, speak to one of our project management experts today.