A comprehensive project plan is a combination of numerous internal plans. By breaking down a project into the different plans utilized, you will be able to monitor its individual parts.
Pilot Plan – The pilot plan is a plan used when a project is tested and completed prior to investing in a full project. During the pilot phase, it is not uncommon for the project to experience numerous adjustments. This is normal and will help save time and money in the long run. The pilot plan will focus on processes, quality, speed, and innovation. After the pilot, a full scale role out of the project will follow.
Evaluation Plan – How do you know you have completed each phase of the project or each piece of the project? How are success and quality being evaluated? Evaluation plans help you know how things are running throughout the entire project. Project members need to evaluate continuously throughout the project and not wait until the end. This will reduce failure in the project.
Equipment Plan – An equipment plan allows you to schedule the usage of equipment during the project. It reduces the chance of investing in more equipment than is necessary.
Reporting or Communication Plan – How will you communicate with your customer? How often will you communicate with your customer? It is important that both you and your customer agree and understand how and when the communication will take place. Consider, too, how and when you will communicate with your team members. The project will run more smoothly and with less frustration if there is planned communication.
Training Plan – Some projects will require customer training before transitioning the project over to the customer. This might include new processes or using new equipment. Sometimes, a very intensive training plan is needed to equip the customer.
Transfer of Knowledge Plan – This plan will enable the organization to keep skills and knowledge within the company. In many organizations, external consultants are hired to work on projects. They might work for the organization for three years and know the project the best. When money gets tight, however, they are often the first to go. If no one has taken the time to transfer their knowledge base to someone who is still with the organization, there is a loss. Unless you have a transfer of knowledge plan, you will see skills and knowledge walking out the door. Secondly, companies hurt themselves with senior staff who are about to retire. These people may have been with the organization twenty or thirty years, and yet they often leave without any type of transference.
Contingency Plan – Project planners are sometimes slow at building in risk and contingency planning into the project. This is due in part to faulty assumptions on risks. They assume their project will run smoothly with few problems. Regardless of the project, there will always be a snag to overcome. Go ahead and build in a clear examination of risk and contingency from a proactive stand point.
Crash Plan – A crash plan can be defined as bringing the project or a piece of the project to a premature close. It can be for any number of reasons. When crashing a project, you must take into account the ripple effect to resources, people, time, equipment, budget, and everything associated with the project. You must reexamine your entire plan and look for the holes you missed. Creating a crash plan which has depth and detail will make sure each of the resources and the new timetable are going to be met.
Close Down Plan – How will you close down the project and hand it off to the customer? Who is doing what? Project managers sometimes have more of a drop-and-run plan rather than a smooth close down plan. You must have a strategic way to hand the project over to the customer. This close down plan is a joint effort giving the customer the project while at the same time the customer is taking it from you.
In summary, as you look at your whole project, you will see that it is like a big umbrella. It is nothing more than a series of smaller specific plans under the umbrella of the project plan. The better you are with these smaller plans, the better you will be at project planning overall. The better you are at holding people accountable to these individual plans, the better you will be overall in maintaining the project plan.
Dr. Keith Mathis, founder and CEO of The Mathis Group, specializes in Project Management, Management Leadership, and Marketing training for private businesses and government agencies of all kinds. He offers 33 Project Management courses, is a Project Management Professional, is certified by the Project Management Institute and will customize every training session to your individual company’s needs. The Mathis Group also sponsors www.pmexpertlive.com, which is a powerful project management resource with free reports, podcasts, videos, and a monthly newsletter. He also offers customized management training and coaching on any subject with prolific communication and professionalism.