Seven Considerations When Developing a Project Management Plan

In today’s world of dynamic and complex projects, a carefully developed Project Management Plan is more important than ever. The Project Management Plan is the foundation for all projects and the importance of careful and deliberate planning cannot be overstated. There’s an old adage that the more planning put into a project, the higher the likelihood of success. While no Project Management Plan can ever plan and account for every possible contingency, there are some areas of consideration that will help ensure your plan avoids some common pitfalls.

  1. The Project Management Plan is a Living Document
    Project management planning is an iterative activity that is continuously performed throughout a project’s lifecycle. The Project Management Plan is no different. As the project moves forward and more detailed information becomes available, the project team should continue to add detail, refine project estimates, and continue to progressively elaborate until the project is complete.
  2. What Subsidiary Management Plans Should the Project Management Plan Include?
    There is no single correct answer to this question; rather it depends on the characteristics and complexity of the project, organizational practices, and organizational structure. As a rule of thumb, if it’s extremely important or falls outside of standard or routine work for the organization, then it should be broken out into a more detailed and separate subsidiary management plan and included as an appendix to the Project Management Plan. For example, in a projectized organization where resources are assigned by project, the resource management plan may be included as a section of the Project Management Plan. However, in a matrixed organization, where resource assignments are much more complex, the resource management plan should be a more detailed document broken out into a subsidiary management plan and included as an appendix to the Project Management Plan.
  3. The Project Management Plan Should be Developed with Input from the Project Team
    Unfortunately, this is a consideration that is often overlooked. It is common for Project Managers to be under tight schedules and rush to complete a Project Management Plan with little or no input from the actual people who will be performing the work. It is imperative that everyone involved in the project has the chance to review the information available, provide feedback, and ask questions. There is a great deal of experience out there so take advantage of it.
  4. Include Baselines: Scope, Schedule, and Cost
    The Project Management Plan must include the baselines for scope, schedule, and cost. These are the basis against which progress will be measured throughout the project. Without understanding and including these in the Project Management Plan, the project manager will be unable to gauge and measure success; nor will he or she have the ability to take corrective measures when necessary to successfully complete the project.
  5. Project Management Plan vs. Subsidiary Management Plan vs. Project Documents
    The Project Management Plan is the collective guiding document for all areas of the project to include all knowledge areas. Subsidiary management plans are the plans pertaining to each project management knowledge area that may be included in the body of the Project Management Plan or as appendices to the Project Management Plan when more detail is needed. Project Documents are commonly used project management documents which aid in the planning, execution, and monitoring and controlling of the project. For example, a risk register is a project document that aids in the planning, execution, and monitoring and controlling of the risk management knowledge area.
  6. Refer to the PMBOK® Often
    The PMBOK® is the global standard for project management practices. When developing your Project Management Plan you should refer to the PMBOK®, specifically section 4.2 “Develop Project Management Plan”. You may also find it helpful to search the .pdf version of the PMBOK® for “Project Management Plan” to find additional information.
  7. Never Start From Scratch
    One of the first steps in the Project Initiation phase is to collect processes, procedures, and historical information from past projects that may be helpful in planning your new project. Effective project management organizations keep archived files, documents, and lessons learned from all past projects which are extremely valuable in planning new projects. This helps avoid repeating mistakes as well as capitalizing on past successes. Additionally, templates should be available from past projects for Project Management Plans, subsidiary management plans, and project documents.

Be sure to download our FREE Project Management Plan Template. This template provides a good starting point for developing your project specific project management plan.