In this blog I’ll cover the final part of the overview of project planning requirements. These last few points are as more about how to control the plan as the project goes on and what to do on a regular basis with regards to keeping the plan up to date and analysing
- Decide how often you will update the plan
Decide how often you are going to update the plan and ensure that all team members are aware of when their progress information needs to be submitted. Arrange regular update meetings with the team so that you can inform them of any changes to the plan and show them how the whole project is progressing.
- Make a copy of the original plan
Make a copy, called a baseline, of the original project plan. As the project progresses, you can compare the actual plan against the original baseline and note where the plans differ. If the project undergoes significant changes, you can re-baseline it so that you have a record of exactly what changed and when.
- Create a Risk Register
Finally when you have finished your plan, get everyone to take a good hard look at it and try and think of what could go wrong. This may seem very pessimistic but could really save you time and effort later. For everything that could go wrong see if there is something reasonable that you could do to reduce the chances of it happening. Also think of what you would do if it did go wrong. Keep all these ‘risks’ to the project in a Project Risk Log and refer back to them regularly.
- Expect the plan to change
Planning a project can be time-consuming, but remember that the more accurate your original plan, the more likely the project will meet its objectives with the minimum number of changes to the plan.
You now have a high level plan (all the things you (think) you need to do; on the dates you (think) you will need to do them.) At this stage, the project plan may be optimized to achieve the appropriate balance between resource usage and project duration to comply with the project objectives. Once established and agreed, the project schedule becomes what is known as the baseline schedule. Progress will be measured against the baseline schedule throughout the life of the project. Analysing progress compared to the baseline schedule is known as earned value management (which we will cover in a future blog).
Unfortunately, however accurate your initial plan, it is unlikely that everything will happen as planned. When the project gets underway, you may realise that you have forgotten to include certain items in the plan, and unexpected events can arise that delay your progress. Nobody can make accurate predictions all the time, and every project has some degree of uncertainty. To keep your project on track, you need to update it regularly to take account of changes as they occur.