Who needs to see the project plan and schedule?

Who really needs to see the project schedule and any related project plan documents, and why?
Think about the schedule and plan (and especially the Plan document) as truly useful documents for communication. Then consider who could benefit from knowing certain details about your project's plan, and why you might need certain people to know about your plan. For example, consider:
  • Team members who will benefit from seeing the big picture
  • Executives who care about deadlines
  • Stakeholders who care about whether they're going to get what they need (and by when)
  • Functional managers whose resources are working on the project (and would need to know when and for how long)

You may end up with a lengthy list of names, but each person probably won't care about every page of your schedule and plan or all of the schedule detail. Certain people may need just a couple of pages out of the Project Plan document to facilitate discussions with you. You may choose to create your plan as a series of one-page documents to make this kind of communication easier.

So, for example, if a particular stakeholder is going to provide resources for your project, you would want them to see:

  • the resource overview over time, so they clearly understand where in time their resources are critical
  • the business requirements, so they understand the project's importance and won't decide to reassign their resources later
  • the milestone list, with driver tasks that show what their function is responsible for

Questions to ask yourself, to determine who should see the project plan:

  • Who do you need to be truly committed to this plan and schedule, so they will go out of their way to make sure their part happens?
  • Who is supplying resources to the project? You should have already talked to them to get the resources identified and figured into the plan, but this is the chance to remind them that they've actually committed to those resources.
  • Who could disrupt the project later? If they don't have a clear idea of the plan now, they might not realize later how they're impacting it with changes. If their work is naturally prone to changes in the middle of projects, they need to be aware of the plan and of the impacts of changes in order to help manage them.
  • Whose ongoing support do you absolutely depend upon? Show them the plan, or key parts of it, to emphasize and remind them of areas where you need their support.
  • Who cares about the project outcomes for various reasons? It could really useful to show the plan to a stakeholder who is very worried about getting what they asked for. They won't care about reviewing all the detail in the plan, but they will feel better and safer after seeing that you've done all this work to guarantee that they get what they asked for.

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