Solid project planning is a prerequisite for project success. Poor planning, meanwhile, can lead to missed deadlines, budget overruns, poor quality deliverables, frustrated project teams and even project failure.
In my previous post, I offered five steps to assist in planning the project-planning phase. One of those steps involved preparing planning documents.
To foster a successful planning phase, here are seven planning documents I believe most project managers will find indispensable. This list certainly might vary depending on the project setup, project size, complexity and organizational planning guidelines.
1. Project management plan — This is used as a reference index, encompassing all planning and project documents.
2. High-level project schedule plan — This document captures high-level project phases and key milestones. It is the document most project stakeholders will see or want to see.
3. Project team planning – This document provides a “who-is-doing-what” view of the project. This document fosters efficient project execution and effective project communication.
4. Scope plan — The scope plan documents the project requirements, the agreed scope and the Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM) summary.
5. Detailed project work plan — This keeps track of the activities, work packages, resources, durations, costs, milestones, project’s critical path, etc. It will be an essential document and work guideline for your core project team.
6. Quality assurance planning — This document tracks the quality standards your project deliverables will have to align to. These may typically include product testing approach and tools, quality policies, quality checklists, deviations definitions, quality metrics, product defect severity grades, acceptance criteria, cost of poor quality, etc.
7. Risk planning — This document contains the project risks and the related mitigation plans; as well as the project opportunities and the related exploiting plans. The importance of this document is one of the most underestimated in project planning. Be prepared to have a contingency plan in case something goes wrong or to take advantage of opportunities when they arise.
Start with this checklist when you sit down to plan for your next project-planning phase. Depending on your project’s needs, fine tune the checklist and tailor it by adding and removing planning assets, determining the planning time frame, the underlying details and rigor.
Revisit this planning exercise, learn from it and enhance it, to continuously improve your project planning skills.
What project planning documents do you find indispensable?
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