4 Steps to Write an Effective Project Plan for Your Small Business 

Byon December 01#best-practices
4 Steps

Every good project manager will tell you that writing a project plan is important. Going into a project without the idea of your deliverables, milestones, or stakeholder expectations, not to mention resources, is a bad move. 

According to published reports, 46% of companies emphasize a culture oriented toward careful project management, with only 23% using dedicated project management tools. By writing a project plan beforehand, you will have a better idea of what your staff is capable of and what resources you’re working with. Let’s discuss project planning and how to execute your plan properly with minimal surprises along the way.

The Fundamentals of Writing a Project Plan

Understanding what project planning is all about will help us write better project plans later on. Project planning involves writing a document that will describe all elements related to a project in great detail. These details include project objectives, available resources, deadlines, potential detractors, crisis scenarios, etc. The more detailed your project plan, the fewer unexpected changes or errors can happen later on. 

Based on recent statistics, 25% of companies lack the proper tools or platforms for effective collaboration. Moreover, 20% of their project time is taken up by catching up to what each stakeholder or staff member is doing at that moment. Writing a project plan and setting clear expectations for upcoming workflow can mitigate that. How do you go about writing a project plan which sidesteps these issues and leads to a better final product?

1. Research and Scope Assessment

The best way to start writing a project plan is to research exactly what you can do with what you have available. Project scope creep is a major issue in corporate and development-based industries. Businesses often go into ambitious projects without assessing precisely what it is they’re capable of delivering. Before you enter production, make sure to clear up the most important pain points related to project workflow:

What is your deadline, and what project deliverables are you promising?

Who are your stakeholders, partners, and staff in charge of development?

What are the risks and crises which can disrupt your project development?

Ask yourself these questions, and make sure to look for potential problems along the way. Never enter project production without knowing what you’re dealing with and what’s expected of you.

2. Project Plan Draft Outlining

Once you’ve done your research, you can proceed to write the outline of your project plan. Your outline should be separated into several different sections with distinct subheadings. Use your previously-obtained data to title each section properly and start inserting relevant data into each. Project plans should always be written in a team so that each person under your management can pitch their thoughts and feedback immediately. 

Think of it as college paper writing, where professional writers collaborate on writing the best possible research paper or thesis. Students can find professional thesis writers to provide them with solid writing service online – you can do the same. If you’re stuck outlining your project plan in-house, look for a freelance specialist to help you with proofing and formatting. When your first draft is finished, you should present it to your managers or stakeholders.

3. Presentation, Feedback, and Course-Correction

Every project you work on will have different stakeholders attached to it. You will work with different managers, investors, board members, and other teams which will collaborate with you on the project. You must get their feedback upfront and implement it into your project plan. To do this, organize a presentation meeting where you will discuss your project plan draft and ask for second opinions. 

This can be done in a PowerPoint presentation format to keep things quick and digestible. You will want to course-correct now instead of later to avoid unnecessary losses of precious time and resources. Prepare a FAQ for the presentation to address certain pain points and be ready to defend your decisions with objective arguments. When your project plan is approved, you can proceed to its practical implementation.

4. Project Plan Execution and Evaluation

Executing your project plan doesn’t mean that its planning is fully finished. Unexpected changes can happen during production, and you will need to adjust your timeline, resources, and deliverables accordingly. Project plans are dynamic, shifting documents and should be treated as such. 

Inform your stakeholders of any changes being made on the fly to keep things transparent and to get additional feedback along the way. Keep your eyes peeled for such changes at all times. As a project manager, your job is to be ready to handle potential crises and moment-to-moment bottlenecks. Be proactive and your project will certainly bear fruit in the way you intended it to.

Project Management Options to Implement your Project Plan

With a good project plan in hand, you’ll want to start implementing it as soon as possible – how do you do that? While you can certainly apply your project plan to an ad hoc workflow, it’s much better to do so via a dedicated project management platform. 

Using such a tool will make your teamwork more coherent and allow you to do more in less time than before. Here are a few useful tools you should check out for your project plan implementation:

Workast is a project management platform that will make your remote teamwork more streamlined and easier to manage. It features a plethora of integration opportunities with other platforms, as well as custom reports which you can use to review your project workflow. Whether you need to manage a large-scale operation or a small team of dedicated professionals, Workast will enable you to do so more efficiently than before.

Basecamp markets itself as a remote workflow tool stack designed to ensure smooth and problem-free remote collaboration. The platform is uniquely designed to help facilitate your remote workflow with its message board, to-do list, and file-sharing features. You can use Basecamp on your desktop devices, as well as iOS and Android. Basecamp allows your team to organize their work hours and vacation days for even better collaboration.

Teamwork Projects is a platform that revolves around individual project management. For example, you can invite freelancers and third-party agencies to pitch in with your projects on a specific basis. This allows for seamless project scaling and more efficient resource management. Teamwork Projects also has rudimentary resource management tools built-in, meaning that you can use it as your base of remote operations.

Backlog is a project management platform geared toward software and web development. Its UI is designed with the intent to allow development teams a more cohesive, productivity-oriented work environment. Gantt charts, custom fields, and task hierarchy options are there to make the development process as enjoyable as possible.  Backlog also has extensive infographic and coding collaboration features available, in addition to an array of integration options. 

Wrapping Up

Learning how to write a project plan is only the beginning. You will quickly learn how to streamline your planning process to allow for more time in the actual project workflow. Use these points as references while doing so, and make sure to check out the useful project management platforms we’ve outlined. Combined, the two will ensure that your work as a project manager is easier to handle, leading to better results and higher end-product quality.

This article is a guest blog written by Jessica Fender. To contribute a guest post to Workast.com, please complete the expression of interest form here.

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