Understanding the Project Management Plan
Many professionals think of a Project Management Plan as a Gantt chart or a schedule. Professionals who carry this misconception into the PMP® certification exam are the least likely ones to pass the exam. As you will see in this article, a Project Management Plan is a document that defines how a project is executed, monitored, and controlled; it is much more than a schedule chart. A solid understanding of the project plan can pay rich dividends throughout your preparation for the PMP certification exam, and also help in managing projects.
What is a Project Management Plan?
The project manager creates the project management plan following inputs from the project team and the key stakeholders. A project management plan is a formal, approved document that defines how the project is executed, monitored, and controlled. It may be a summary or a detailed document and may include baselines, subsidiary management plans, and other planning documents. This document is used to define the approach project team takes to deliver the intended project management scope of the project.
As the work proceeds, the performance of the project is measured against the performance measurement baseline included in the project management plan. The scope baseline, schedule baseline, and the cost baseline are collectively referred to as the performance measurement baseline. If there is a deviation from the baseline while the work is being done, the project manager deals with them by making adjustments to correct the deviation. If these adjustments fail to correct the deviations, then formal change requests to the baselines become necessary.
Project managers spend a substantial amount of time ensuring baselines are achieved, ensuring the project sponsor and the organization get the full benefits of their projects. Besides proper planning, a project manager’s abilities also lie in efficiently controlling the project and ensuring project deliverables are on time—and that the project is completed per the project management plan.
What are the Components of a Project Management Plan?
A project management plan is a collection of baselines and subsidiary plans that include:
- Baselines for scope, schedule, and cost
- Management plans for scope, schedule, cost, quality, human resources, communications, risk, and procurement
- Requirement management plan
- Change management plan
- Configuration management plan
- Process improvement plan
Creating a Project Management Plan
As per the PMBOK® Guide, the project management plan is an output of the Develop Project Management Plan process in the Project Integration Management Knowledge area.
The project management plan is not created all at once. It is progressively elaborated, which means it is developed, refined, revisited and updated. Since the project management plan integrates all the knowledge area management plans into a cohesive whole, it needs to be assembled after all the component plans have been created.
Most of the components of the project management plan are created in various processes defined in the PMBOK Guide; for instance, the Communications Management Plan is developed in the Plan communications process.
However, the Schedule Management Plan, Cost Management Plan, and Scope Management Plan are created in the Develop Project Management Plan process. When a project charter is created in the initiating process group, it contains a summary of scope, budget and a summary (milestone) schedule.
Since you already have these things at the time you begin developing the project plan, you can go ahead and develop the scope management plan, cost management plan and the schedule management plan. Later, when you perform the Plan Scope, Estimate Costs, and Develop Schedule processes, you can revise the components of the project plan with more detail to reflect a deeper understanding of the project.
Project Management Plan Approval
Since the project management plan is a formal document that is used to manage the execution of the project, it must receive a formal approval. Who grants the approval for the project management plan depends on the organizational structure and a number of other factors.
Usually, the customer or the senior management of an organization do not approve the project management plan document. The customer signs the contract but often leaves the internal workings of the organization delivering the project. Typically the project plan is approved by the project manager, project sponsor, or the functional managers who provide the resources for the project.
It becomes less difficult for a project manager to get the project management plan approved, if:
- All the stakeholders are identified along with and their requirements and objectives.
- The project manager handles conflicting priorities in advance.
To understand how to build a career in project management, and how certification training prepares you for project management job roles in any industry, watch this video on PMP Certification Training.
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