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project-plans-10-essential-elements - Project Plans 10...

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Project Plans: 10 Essential Elements By Trevor Roberts Firstly, I need to make sure we are all on the same page when it comes to what a plan is. Many people (and a distressing number of project managers, too) think only of a Gantt chart when they think of a project plan. You may recognise it as what you get from Microsoft Project. This is better called a project schedule, in that it shows when we expect the various sections of the project to happen. We will come back to this later. What we want to have in our project plan is: Aim of project 1. Outputs 2. Quality criteria 3. Resources 4. Management structure 5. Milestones 6. Tolerances 7. Dependencies 8. Risks 9. Schedule 10. Let's have a look at these in turn, and see why they are needed, and what we want to achieve with each of them. Aim of Project What do we want to produce? The aim of the project is a mixture of the reasons for doing the project and the benefits that are expected from it. This section of the plan can be either fulfilled by linking to the main business case, or by restating it in language for the expected audience. For example, your business case may have been written for high level approval in your organisation. You may want to now put it in terms the project executive expects. Outputs Given the aim of the project, what do we actually need to produce to get there? What will your completed project be made up of? These need to be clearly defined. For example, your project's aim may be to upgrade the IT infrastructure in an organisation. Your final output would be a completed computer network, a new computer on every desk, and all appropriate software installed and ready to go. Quality Criteria Now we have the outputs, we need to understand what quality they need to be of. In the example above, we have an output of a completed computer network. However, we need to know that the network can actually cope with the amount of traffic going over it! This means we need the completed output to be of a certain quality, and we need to define what that quality is. These targets tell you what success is, what completion of the project is. They need to be SMART: 1
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Specific: Clearly defined and precise. Measurable: e.g. not "new computers," but "computers with 2Gb of memory," etc. Attainable: Don't ask for the impossible. Relevant: Is the criterion actually related to the aim of the project? Time-based: Enough time to achieve this. There is no point expecting a year's worth of work in one week!
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