Project Management Plan
The Project Management Plan, in PMP® Certification, quite simply is the document that lists all of the project requirements, activities, resources, deliverables, acceptance criteria and measure of success. Through this one document, an effort is made to capture the entire project end-to-end, covering all project phases, from initiation through planning, execution and closure.
When writing a project management plan, the approach depends primarily on the project's priority, size and context. Project Management plan is perhaps the most important document, with relevance as high as getting the buy in from the sponsor/stakeholder for the project. Just as the project cannot proceed without stakeholder buy in, without a solid plan proceeding is equally, if not more, disastrous.
The Project Management Plan is a master, and an all-encompassing document. All other plans, scope management plan, cost management plan, schedule management plan, all baselines (performance measurement baseline comprising of cost, schedule and scope baselines), configuration management plan, quality management plan, requirements management plan, communications plan, risk management plan & resource management plan are a part of this master document.
Please note: Project planning is iterative. Iterative here means that each phase or part is defined or elaborated more as the work progresses on. That means that the project plan itself will change. It is acceptable till the basic hygiene factors according to the methodology are maintained.
For example, in traditional project management, the plan provides an outline of the anticipated project constraints (schedules, budgets etc) through all five stages: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and completion. In contrast, agile projects cannot be planned end to end due to the on-demand nature of work. Instead, the plans are created and adjusted throughout the project life-cycle as needed.
The iterative nature however is not an excuse for poor or incomplete planning. Each planning process may use the results of previous process and each process may cause changes to the previous processes. The idea is to complete each planning process as fully as possible. The project management plan is not finalized till the time all risk management processes are completed. After completing all risk management processes, i.e. risk identification, qualitative & quantitative risk analysis, risk response planning etc., project manager goes back to planning document to finalize the project plan.
Project lifecycle in a multi stage project (Rolling Wave Planning)
For Projects involving multiple stages (testing, install, roll out etc) iterative project planning is needed. This is due to the underlying condition that the entire project cannot be fully planned to a detailed degree before beginning the work. In such cases, only the first stage or phase of the project (for example Design stage) is fully planned, while other stages are planned only at a higher level with detailed planning for each stage or phase happening as the previous stage nears completion.
In a multi-stage project, each stage has the same 5 parts of project management, Initiation, Planning, Execution, Monitoring and Control and Closing.
From PMBOK® guide knowledge areas’ perspective, Planning is the only process group that involves processes from all the 9 knowledge areas, i.e. Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, Human Resources, Communications, Risk & Procurement
Whether the planning is required for a phase or the entire project, the following are listed:
- Overview: Why the project is being conducted and its primary objectives
- Scope: Business needs, requirements, deliverables, constraints and work breakdown structure
- Schedule: Activities schedule and project milestones
- Costs: Project budget and its funding approach
- Quality: Quality measurement and control approach
- Project team: The people working on the project, their roles and responsibilities
- Communication: Communication type, channels and the reporting approach
- Risks: Risk index, methods to identify and evaluate risks, risk mitigation & contingency planning
- Procurements: Required procurements and purchase processes
- Closure: Closure approach, including the deliverables hand-off protocol
- Changes: Procedures used to track changes in the project
- Baselines: Scope, schedule and budget baselines
Once the plan is complete, the project manager uses the project management plan as a tool to help manage the project on a daily basis. Though it may evolve and change over the lifecycle of a project, the project management plan is designed to be as complete as possible before the execution begins.
Happy learning! We wish you good luck in your PMP® certification journey.
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