Efficient project planning is a vital prerequisite for your workflows' success. It enables your team to understand which kind of efforts they are supposed to make, which resources to use and which goals to achieve. Your stakeholders can rely on this document to decide whether they would like to support the project or not. From this article, you'll get to know how to compose a top-notch project plan and which software you might want to install for this purpose.
A project plan is a document that lists the tasks to be completed and the goals to be achieved to carry out a specific project. This text enables you to determine whether you have already achieved success or not yet. Your project plan should also include your communication plans plus timelines and Gantt charts for the most significant milestones. You should list all the required resources, such as money, freelancers, software and so forth. In your project plan, you should break down the structure of upcoming work — that is especially important if several professionals work on various tasks in parallel.
In a nutshell, the project plan is the text that you can refer to to define, organize, prioritize and assign activities and resources throughout your project's life cycle.
Some organizations neglect the importance of the project plan. Their top managers believe that they would spend too much time and effort on composing the document — and then, everyone will forget about it too quickly. That's an erroneous approach.
Over 50% of projects face the issue known as scope creep. This term means that the staff has to handle much more work than they expected. A project plan enables teams to foresee and prevent unexpected delays or changes. Plus, managers can better detect the points where problems arise and take this data into account when composing the next project plan.
According to statistics, only 55% of projects meet their budgets and half of the projects fail to meet their deadlines. A well-thought-out project plan can help managers to use their resources more rationally as well as avoid excessive expenses and delays.
Bitrix24 enables you to compose a project plan, set KPIs, distribute tasks among staffers and monitor their performance.
This is not the only possible scheme for composing a project plan — but it is one of the most helpful and efficient ones.
An executive summary at the beginning of the text should pursue these three goals:
Formulate the purpose of the document
Focus on the major points of the project plan
List any results, conclusions or recommendations from the project
An ideal executive summary should be just one page long and feature a brief overview of:
The project objectives and goals
The project methodology or framework that you're planning to stick to
The final deliverables and acceptance criteria
Key scope risks and ways of avoiding them
Summary of milestones
An overview of the project timeline and time management risks
Resource and spending estimates
This part of the project plan enables stakeholders to understand the essence of the upcoming work even if they don't take an active part in it. Around 30% of all projects fail to meet their initial objectives. That's why their managers should systematically review their plans to stay on track.
It would be wise to compose the executive summary once your project plan is finalized. You'll be able to pull the information from the rest of the document.
The term "scope" means the following:
Start and end dates of your project
Expectations about deliverables
Contacts of the professional who approves requests
Your project plan should outline the potential risks that your team might face when handling their workflow. The document should suggest the steps you should take to minimize the impact of these risks. In the project plan, you should also name the professional who's accountable for tracking these risks
The more precisely you define the scope, the less likely the project's requirements will be to increase over time. Growing requirements are a common problem for many businesses — yet only less than one-third of all companies try to overcome this issue by using a project plan.
To guide your project, you can select one of the various frameworks — and you should mention it in your project plan. For instance, if you prefer Waterfall, you'll need to plan all the steps in advance and fragment the full scope of work into sequences. If you find Agile more helpful, you should fragment the work into sprints and carry out quality assurance at the end of each sprint.
To increase your project's odds of success, you should strive to reduce the number of task dependencies. Teams should be able to work autonomously so that it will be easier for them to meet deadlines. In your project plan, you should specify how many approvers you need to keep the work going and avoid bottlenecks.
Plus, your project plan should feature times for team knowledge-sharing. Managers should encourage collaboration and exchanging experiences within and among teams.
In your project plan, you should describe the brief characteristics of the following resources:
If you pick the professionals with the right skills for your project, your success rate should increase by 30%. If you lack some type of resources, you should fine-tune your project's timeline.
If your project plan features a time frame, it will be 52% more likely to succeed. 43% of businesses confess they hardly ever meet the deadlines of their successful projects. ⅘ of projects lack even if the basic schedules. That's why it's crucial to add a timeline to your project plan.
The design of the timeline might vary depending on which framework you prefer. It might be wise to indicate not only the milestones of the upcoming work but also the maximum number of tasks that can have the Work in Progress status. The number should depend on the number of people in your team and their skills.
No matter how thoroughly you draft your project plan, you'll inevitably face a lot of unexpected circumstances and will need to adapt to changes. That might become one of the major challenges to your efficient management. In your project plan, you should outline the algorithms that your team should stick to when changes occur. Your staffers should know whom they should turn to when they face changes.
To make the most of project planning, you should install powerful software — such as Bitrix24. This is a large and versatile system that enables you to compose a project plan, set KPIs, distribute tasks among staffers and monitor their performance. You can create an unlimited number of tasks for individuals and groups. Then, you can add subtasks and checklists to each task so that your team members can complete it quicker and easier. Besides, you can create task dependencies. For repetitive tasks, you can create templates that will automate your workflows.
Bitrix24 supports Gantt charts and Kanban view, which you might need for your project plan. You can clearly see who is in charge of each particular task and assess the progress of each phase of the project. The system can generate insightful reports for your managers to help them analyze the staff's efficiency. You can either use ready-made report templates, or customize them, you build new ones from scratch.
To make sure your team always meets the deadlines, you can rely on the time management and planning instruments of Bitrix24. It offers clock-in and clock-out tools, task time tracking and customizable workday settings. You can create online calendars for groups and individuals, use the daily planner as well as the leave and vacation management functionality.
The full-featured CRM allows you to provide project estimates and bill your customers once the project is over. The CRM can store an unlimited number of records and its cells are customizable. You can accept online payments right through the dashboard of Bitrix24.
Mind maps come in handy for many projects. With the help of Bitrix24, you can either create a mind map from scratch or select one of the ready-made templates. You'll be able to choose from various visual schemes as well as create custom and individual ones. In addition to all standard mind map features, you'll be able to benefit from advanced ones — for instance, you'll be able to assign users, create tasks and events. And of course, the system will allow you to import and export mind maps.
When working on a project, your team members need to exchange multiple documents. Bitrix24 offers a superb infrastructure for online documents and file sharing. You can create dedicated drives for your staff members, departments and the whole organization. You can fine-tune access rights for different types of users, restrict sharing with passwords and enable cross-device file syncing.
When it comes to social knowledge sharing, you can use Bitrix24 to make company-wide announcements, share your business's general and contact information and spread your company news. This software supports photo and video sharing, audio and video calls and videoconferencing with online video recording. You can create searchable private and public chats as well as customizable employee directories and profiles.
Whenever you need to talk to your clients, partners, freelancers or some other external users, you can create a secure space for collaboration with the Bitrix24 Extranet. If needed, you can integrate this software with Zapier, Jira, Asana and other third-party solutions.
Bitrix24 is available in on-premise and cloud formats. Plus, it has a mobile app for Android and iOS. Its free plan allows you to try its basic functionality at no cost for an unlimited number of users. The main drawback of the free plan consists in the fact that it offers only 5 GB of online storage. If you want more, you should upgrade to one of the three paid plans (the cheapest one costs only $39 per month).
Hopefully, you found this article informative and now you better understand the specifics and importance of a project plan. You should compose this document before launching the project. It should include an executive summary, the scope and the structure of the project, the list of available resources, the timeline and the information about change control. When choosing the best project planning software, you might want to consider Bitrix24. Over 10 million businesses from all over the world rely on it when they need to compose a project plan. You can try the basic functionality of Bitrix24 for free and then upgrade to one of the more powerful paid options.