Change Specialists - Simplifying Change

5 Tips for Developing a Project Plan 

Project planning is a critical phase in the project management lifecycle, as it lays the groundwork for the successful execution and delivery of projects. These 5 tips for developing a project plan from our CEO John Dean lift the lid on essential components required for success.

John provides an overview on how to implement these strategies in Microsoft Project, a popular project management software used by professionals worldwide, including those at Change Specialists.

1. Define Project Scope and Objectives Clearly

Tip: Begin by establishing a clear understanding of the project’s scope and objectives. This involves detailing the project’s goals, deliverables, constraints, and the criteria for success.

Implementation in Microsoft Project:

• Start by creating a new project. Set up the project information by going to the “Project” tab and clicking on “Project Information.”

• The “Task” section is utilised to break down the project into smaller, manageable tasks.

• Deliverables need to be defined for each task or phase. Use the “Notes” section of each task to ensure clarity on the expected outcomes.

2. Develop a Detailed Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

Tip: A Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is essential for decomposing the project into smaller, more manageable components. It helps in organising and defining the total scope of the project.

Implementation in Microsoft Project:

• Utilise the “Task Name” field to create a hierarchy of tasks and subtasks, effectively outlining your WBS.

• Indent and outdent tasks to create a structured, hierarchical view of the project tasks, facilitating easier management and tracking.

3. Assign Resources and Estimate Durations

Tip: Assign the right resources to each task, including team members, equipment, and materials, and estimate the duration of each task accurately to ensure realistic planning.

Implementation in Microsoft Project:

• “Resource Sheet” view can be used to add and define all the resources available for the project, including human resources, equipment, and materials.

• Add these resources to specific tasks using the “Resource Name” field in the task list, adjusting for any resource constraints or availability issues.

• Estimate task durations by entering values in the “Duration” field for each task, considering the resources assigned and their availability.

4. Establish Milestones and Critical Path

Tip: Identify major milestones in your project, such as key deliverables or project phases. Determine the project’s critical path, which is the longest sequence of tasks that dictates the minimum project duration.

Implementation in Microsoft Project:

• Define milestones by setting the duration of key tasks to “0” days, which will automatically designate them as milestones.

• Enter tasks, dependencies, and durations. Select “Gantt Chart” in the “View” tab to select the click on “Critical Path”. This will highlight the tasks that directly impact the project timeline.

5. Regularly Review and Update the Project Plan

Tip: View project plans as living documents. Regular reviews support the capture of changes and progression alongside any issues arising.

Implementation in Microsoft Project:

• Regularly update task statuses, completion percentages, and actual start and finish dates to reflect real-time progress.

• Use the “Tracking Gantt” view to compare planned versus actual progress. This allows you to make informed decisions and adjustments to the project plan as needed.

Change Specialists work with clients from SME’s through to global leaders. We support them to achieve successful outcomes for business change and digital transformation programmes.

Contact us to discuss your pending or current programmes of work.

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