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Posted by on Apr 21, 2015

Project Management Plans

When I am asked for a template for a Project Management Plan, I have to give my usual consulting answer – “It depends.” Because I have found that there is no one template that works for every project. The plan must be tailored for the type of project, the rigor of the processes required to manage the effort, and the organizational requirements for documentation. The rigor is determined by the complexity of the project (e.g., number of interactions, type of work), risks (e.g., new technologies, new policies), size (e.g., number of people on the team, dollar value of the contract), and the amount of stakeholder involvement (e.g., governance processes, oversight requirements).

So what do you include in the Project Management Plan? Or any management plan? It should include the processes, methodologies, tools, and techniques that will be used to plan, execute, and monitor the work. Regardless of rigor of the processes required to manage the effort, there are eight questions that need to be addressed in the Project Management Plan:

  1. What? – What is the purpose of the management plan? This includes the project objectives and success factors, a high level description of the work, and the constraints and assumptions used in developing and justifying the project.
  2. Why? – Why is the plan being developed? This includes external and internal oversight requirements, organizational conditions, and an overview of the justification for the project (e.g., alignment to a specific strategic / business objective).
  3. How? – What processes, practices, and tools will be used to plan, execute, and monitor the project? This includes the key process for managing constraints (e.g., scope, cost, and time management; customer satisfaction). This section should also include any of the knowledge area processes in PMI’s Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) (e.g., communication, risk, quality, stakeholder and procurement management) and any organizational processes and templates, and any tools that will be used (e.g., schedules, risk register, communication portal) as needed to meet the management requirements / rigor.
  4. Who? – Who is going to execute the management plan? This includes the roles and responsibilities of the management team and key stakeholders.
  5. When? – When will the different management activities occur? This is the schedule of the management activities (e.g., reporting requirements, risk management meetings, interactions with stakeholders).
  6. Where? – Where will the management activities occur? This includes the physical locations of meetings, team rooms, and tools. It should also include a description of virtual meeting formats.
  7. How Much? – How much does the management effort cost? Management is work and there are costs associated with that work. This includes costs of all resources (including people) and tools that will be used in managing the project throughout the anticipated length of the project. It also includes the costs of any procured support.
  8. How am I doing? – How can you tell if you are managing effectively? This section should identify performance measures and other techniques to gauge management effectiveness. This includes provisions for management process improvement and team development.

The degree of detail in management plans will vary project to project. The detail will be in the processes and tools and techniques necessary to effectively manage the work.

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