What is a Project Management Plan

What is a Project Management Plan


Last updated July 31, 2017


Many professionals are known to make a mistake of considering 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; and it is much more than a schedule chart. A solid understanding of the project plan can pay rich dividends throughout our preparation for the PMP®certification exam, and also help us in managing our projects.

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So, let us take a detailed look at the Project Management Plan.

What is a Project Management Plan?

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 be a compendium of baselines, subsidiary management plans and other planning documents. This document is used to define the approach used by the project team to deliver the intended project management scope of the project .The project manager creates the project management plan following inputs from the project team and the key stakeholders.

Most of the large consulting firms and professional project management firms tend to have a formally agreed and version controlled project management plan approved in the early stages of the project, and applied throughout the project.

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 is 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 becomes necessary. The project manager spends a substantial amount of time in ensuring that the baselines are achieved .This in turn ensures that the project sponsor and the organization gets the full benefits of the projects that are chartered . Besides proper planning, a project manager’s abilities also lie in efficiently controlling the project and getting the project completed as per the project management plan.

What are the components of a Project Management Plan?

The project management plan is a collection of baselines and subsidiary plans. The plan includes:

Baselines for : Scope, Schedule, Cost

Management Plans for : Scope, Schedule, Cost, Quality, Human Resources,

Communications, Risk and Procurement

Other plans: Requirement management plan, Change management plan,

Configuration management plan, Process Improvement Plan.

When is the Project Management Plan created?

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, as per the PMBOK® Guide, 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 we already have these things at the time we begin developing the project plan, we can go ahead and develop the scope management plan, cost management plan and the schedule management plan, instead of waiting. Later when we perform the Plan scope, Estimate costs, and Develop schedule processes as per the PMBOK® Guide, we can revise the components of the project plan with more detail to reflect a deeper understanding of the project.

Approval of the Project Management Plan

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. Formal approval means a signoff (signature).

Now, who approves 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 document. The customer signs the contract but often leaves the internal workings to the organization which delivers the project. The performing organization’s senior management cannot get down to the level of reviewing every component of a project plan and approving the document and especially not for each and every project.

Typically the project plan is approved by the project manager, project sponsor or the functional managers who provides the resources for the project.

It becomes less difficult for a project manager to get his project management plan approved, if he successfully identifies all the stakeholders and their requirements and objectives and deals with the conflicting priorities in advance.

Thus, a Project Management Plan is a formal approved document that defines how the project is managed, executed and controlled.

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About the Author

Sabyasachi has over a decade’s experience in leading IT and non IT projects in the Healthcare, Oil and Energy, eCommerce, Public Sector Undertaking and Services industry . He is a PMI certified Project Management Professional , PMP, and a volunteer in the Project management community with a focus on best practice and mentoring other project management professionals . His writings are regularly published in several blogs , forums and online project management communities .


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