Project Management Plan Example, Tips and Tricks
Here's a quick project management plan example. It features tips and tricks for precision and a more reliable plan. See also more examples and templates on various standards such as PMI, IEEE, US Federal Government projects contracting or the US Air Force MILCON program.
What Is It For?
A project management plan is a must-have document for companies bidding in or contracting projects. It could be a Request for Proposals (RFP) requisite or part of the initial deliverable.
Why Is It Required In Bids?
As a requisite in the bid process, a project management plan forces the bidder to check on a client's data and situation. It makes a bidder consider all factors that might affect the project’s successful completion. This is a good risk management technique on the part of the project owner. It maximizes the chances of finding the right fit. Project bidders tend to stand out and win when they accurately understand the client's situation and the project's nuances.
Why Is It An Important Project Deliverable?
As part of the initial deliverable, it serves as a scoping document for the winning bidder. Project stakeholders usually treat this as a supplement to the contract along with the RFP, Terms of Reference (TOR) or Inception Report. In certain cases, the inception report and project management plan are one and the same or these mutually enhance the purpose of both documents.
Essentially, the project management plan serves as a formal document for meeting eye-to-eye. It initiates communication among the various stakeholders. Counterpart staff or even project managers from the project owner's side will get the chance to convey their inputs and concerns. Likewise, the winning bidder can present, elaborate and negotiate on the finer details of the project method or approaches at the beginning of the project.
What's the Main Difference Between a Project Plan and a Project Management Plan?
The main difference between a project plan and a project management plan is the purpose for which these are created.
Project firms have an internal document for use in managing teams to execute the project. This is the project plan. Most often, it is also necessary to include a financial plan with the project plan for funding the project.
If it is a fixed duration project with a specific start date and end date, then it would require a cash burn plan on a weekly or monthly basis until project completion. The purpose of the cash burn plan is to align the expenses with the cash flow especially in project firms executing a portfolio of projects.
For instance, if a cash payment for deliverable A is expected within two months or around 60 calendar days, then it would be advantageous for the project manager or procurement officer to negotiate a 90-day payment term for certain project supplies or equipment.
Most significantly, when sufficient cash is not available on, say, the fourth month, it makes sense not to scale up contractual staff-heavy or supply-intensive activities on the third or fourth month. Otherwise, temporary project employees, subcontractors or vendors will have delayed salaries, wages or payments on the fourth month. This is then an unnecessary project risk for fixed price project contracts where payments are tied to specific deliverables.
The cash burn plan is also a risk management technique to ensure that the risk management portion of the project plan can be properly executed in case risk scenario A, B, or C happens. Running out of gas in the middle of a project just because a non-ideal scenario happens is a major project risk that must be properly managed.
On the other hand, the external document that the project firm releases to the project owner or client is the project management plan. This plan will not contain the project firm's trade secrets like internal processes, detailed internal team compositions or different approaches to project implementation that give the project firm a technological edge versus other project firms.
Rather, the project management plan's main purpose is to integrate the different external teams that will make the project succeed.
Project Management Plan Goals
In summary, a project management plan has the following goals:
- Communicate project details clearly;
- Control Scope;
- Get commitments from all stakeholders; and
- Manage project risks.
Project Management Plan Example
This is a quick example of a project management plan. Its main purpose is to integrate various internal and external teams to solve a problem. For greater details, check on some of the real world project management plan examples after the Tricks section here.
NUCLEAR POWER PLANT MELTDOWN MITIGATION PROJECT
A 9.0 magnitude undersea earthquake and tsunami have damaged the Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. This project management plan aims to avert and resolve the danger that a Nuclear Power Plant Disaster poses on the environment and the people in its immediate vicinity. The best case scenario is to bring the power plant back to operations and establish additional safety nets to prevent a similar situation in the future.
1.0 Project Scope
The immediate focus of this project management plan is to resolve the problems that may arise from the damaged atomic reactors of the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant. It also aims to prevent further damage from subsequent aftershocks. The medium-term focus for a best case scenario is to make the power plant fully operational again with new safety nets in place to prevent a similar incidence from happening again.
2.0 Assumptions and Constraints
The main assumption of this project is that project funding, and government and international support are sufficient enough to remedy the situation. Minor assumptions include: skilled manpower are immediately available, a second 9.0 magnitude undersea earthquake will not follow the first one, and if worse-comes-to-worst, the power plant owners are open to the idea of disabling the plant and burying it in sand and concrete.
The major constraints of this project are: strong aftershocks, escalation of the atomic reactor damage to uncontrollable proportions, and unavailable skilled manpower to volunteer and risk their lives for this project.
3.0 Project Organization
A program manager will manage the sub-projects and report to the corporate board of the Tokyo Electric Power Company. Sub-projects with a project manager each will include:
- Tactical and strategic planning.
- Logistics and supply chain.
- IEC for the international and local press.
- Public relations with governments and agencies for crucial planning and execution inputs such as helicopters, satellite photos, meteorological and seismologic information and other related equipment or technical resources.
- On-site mitigation.
- Project finance.
4.0 Technical Processes
This project will use an open method to try all possible mitigation processes that might work after the evaluation of specialized engineers and scientists. The fall-back method is to follow the Chernobyl power plant experience before a full blown nuclear disaster occurs. A safety board consisting of international representatives from governments and scientific agencies will define the trigger mechanism for the fall-back method for the preservation of the environment and safety of human lives.
5.0 Project Budget
This project will have an unlimited budget and a quick funding mechanism.
All project stakeholders are required to sign their commitments here.
These are detailed descriptions and presentations of the general project management plan items.
Project Management Plan Example Gantt Chart
Tip No. 1 - Conduct Due Diligence
Surprises likely arise during the project implementation when certain scenarios happen and project managers have not formally escalated these in writing during bid conferences or on the kick-off meeting. These surprises impact costs, timelines, schedules and scope.
The following due diligence items will ensure a winning project management plan:
- Check the RFP. Assign specialized staff to evaluate and provide inputs on each section of the RFP or TOR. Next, brainstorm on everyone's take on the general project requirements.
- Check the project owner's website. Gather more information that might relate to the project.
- Check ongoing and/or previous projects. Evaluate how ongoing contractors are serving the client and how their projects might affect or relate to the project at hand. Sub-projects which are parts of a bigger project will likely have inter-dependencies.
- Think of various scenarios. What if another contractor from a sub-project failed to deliver and an ongoing work package needs this input? How will data updates proceed from one database to another? The project owner's representatives might not have considered such scenarios yet. It's a winning strategy to point these out.
- Field questions. During the bid conferences, field questions and escalate concerns relating to likely scenarios when and where appropriate. In meetings, raise only those that are likely to happen. This will convey expertise while it is better to point out far-fetched scenarios in writing in the project management plan.
Tip No. 2 - Use a Graphical WBS and Gantt Charts
The usual project management plan is a wall of text. To better organize ideas and present these in an easily understood manner, use a graphical work break down structure then explain the work packages with text. Likewise, present the major work packages through a Gantt chart as a quick reference to the project schedule.
Busy executives of the project owner will save time. These graphical tools, when used to simplify complex ideas, prevent steep learning curves and rapidly convey crucial project information.
Remember: The project management plan is a communication tool to manage risks, control scope, and get commitments in writing. It is easier to gain consensus and agreements when communicating ideas simply and clearly.
Trick No. 1 - Delegate Sections
By itself, the project management plan is a project requiring team inputs for best results. It is also a dynamic document that requires updates and monitoring for contract compliance purposes.
Once all team inputs are gathered, the project manager has to seamlessly integrate all ideas for document style consistency. Likewise, this renders a better understanding of the entire scope of the project and the risks involved.
In this case, the project management plan enhances and validates a project manager's knowledge and ability to better run the project.
Delegation and a proper feedback loop in the planning process prevent air sandwich project risks and micromanagement.
Trick No. 2 - Adapt to the Standards at Hand
Check the project owner's standard documents or favored contractors. Use the same fonts and sizes for familiarity.
While creating a colorful Project Management Plan is supposed to make the document stand out, err on the conservative side. Choose colors that the client uses in documents or their website.
Better yet, probe how the stakeholders of the project owner think of the professional presentation of such materials.
As for content formats, a good strategy is to present a clear and simple executive summary with bullet points, diagrams and graphics with the minimum clutter.
Meanwhile, present details per section with greater depth in the body of the project management plan to satisfy the project owner's staff in their specific areas of responsibility when evaluating the document.
An ideal format for the content is the IEEE-SPMP as the PMI format tends to be cluttered and repetitive. Of course, if the counterpart project manager is PMP-certified then it makes sense to follow the PMI format.
The Grand Calumet River Project provides a good example to better organize PMI-required content for project management plans.
The TRIM Project is another example of a project management plan where clarity of the presentation is the main focus. Use this standard for complex projects but remember to provide enough details for the evaluation of the project owner's technical staff.
For time-sensitive projects that may affect human lives, a more direct to the point project management plan is the US Air Force MILCON program template.
Insights into Standards
There are no hard-and-fast rules in creating a project management plan. Improvements are always welcome. However, the key purposes are to communicate clearly, get commitments and control scope. These three aims when achieved lessen project risks.
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Project Management Plan Examples in the Real World
- Chicago State University
Grand Calumet River Feasibility Study Project Management Plan of the US Army Corps of Engineers. This plan has a noteworthy Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM) on pages 64 to 68. It closely follows PMI standard content elements.
- Monash University
TRIM Context System Roll Out Project Management Plan. This is an academic standard document with a noteworthy timeline on pages 14 to 15. It likewise features bullet points and diagrams for easier and clearer communication of key project elements.
Project Management Plan Templates
- University of Waterloo
IEEE-SPMP Standard. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers - Software Project Management Plan format guide for software developers. This pdf file is for the waterfall model Software/Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC).
- National Institute of Building Sciences - WBDG
Here is a Generic Project Management Plan fill-in-the-blanks template for US Air Force Projects under the Military Construction (MILCON) program.
Use these project management plan examples, tips and tricks when and where appropriate. It's pretty much a judgment call on which standard to follow or whether to adopt a little bit from everything.