International Project Management Day




Planning and Scheduling: Create Project Plan Document


Quick Summary
This guideline explains how to create a project plan document—a management summary document that provides project essentials like objectives, justification, and how the objectives are to be achieved (including an overview of the time, costs, and people it will take), as well as describing how the project will be managed. Seventh in a series—see the Related Templates below for the others.


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What this is

This is the seventh of a series of guidelines on plan and schedule development. A Project Plan Document is a management summary document that gives the essentials of a project in terms of its objectives, justification, and how the objectives are to be achieved—including an overview of the time, costs, and people it will take to get it done. It should also describe how the project will be conducted and managed, including controlling changes, handling issues, and judging completion.

NOTE: Some people interchange the terms "project schedule" and "project plan." In fact, the project plan expresses more than the schedule aspect of the project. The work breakdown structure and summary of key schedule milestones are included in the project plan, but the project plan and project schedule are not the same.


Why it's useful

The project plan is a communication document. It captures what the team understands the goals of the project to be and what the team has decided to do, how, and by when, to meet those goals.

For large projects involving multiple organizations, the project plan document is useful for capturing in one place all the parameters of the project and providing it to multiple organizations. It can evolve and be used as a working document and communication tool during the early project investigation and planning work, as the team works through aspects of the project.

For smaller projects, a very streamlined version of the project plan can be created. The same benefits hold: clearly stating what the project must accomplish and how the team will do so, and making sure all the involved team members and their organizations are on the same page.


How to use it

  1. Examine the standard outlines to determine what sections would be applicable to your project.
  2. Draft particular sections of the plan as the information comes available. Pay particular attention to sections such as communication, requirements management, and issues resolution, which could come into play even in the early days of the project as the team figures out an approach for meeting project goals within stated time and cost constraints.
  3. Evolve the plan during the investigation and planning work on the project.
  4. As decisions are made and the schedule, budget, and resource staffing solidifies, update the plan with summary information to reflect the scope, time, cost, and people aspects of the project.
  5. Provide the document to team members and managers in functional organizations that are supporting the project and review it with them as necessary to ensure understanding and support.
  6. Use the project plan as part of your process for this project being officially allowed to go forward.

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Related Templates
Planning and Scheduling: Task Identification and Work Breakdown
Guidelines for developing a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) to identify all the activities required to complete a project, with examples. First in a series.

Planning and Scheduling: Assigning Resources
Guidelines on identifying resources needed for each item in a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), including a sample tracking worksheet. Second in a series.

Planning and Scheduling: Identifying Dependencies
How to identify and capture dependencies in a work breakdown structure (WBS). Third in a series

Planning and Scheduling: Estimating Work and Costs
Guidelines on estimating effort, duration, and costs for items in the work breakdown structure (WBS). Fourth in a series

Planning and Scheduling: Project Schedule and Critical Path
Guidelines on scheduling activities to perform on WBS tasks in order to arrive at an integrated schedule in calendar time. Fifth in a series.

Planning and Scheduling: Make Trade-offs and Optimize
Guidelines for making trade-offs and optimizing the first-pass base schedule, to address conflicts among the scope, time, and resources/costs. Sixth in a series.

Planning and Scheduling: Create Project Plan Document
Guidelines for creating a project plan document providing project essentials like objectives, justification, and how the objectives are to be achieved, and describing how the project will be managed. Seventh in a series.

Generic Project Plan Document
A project plan document outline, with annotations to explain the use of each section, to make it easier to adapt the plan for different situations.

Project Charter
Once your project idea has been evaluated and approved for further investigation, you need to communicate the major parameters and high-level information. This template for a succinct project charter helps you summarize that critical information.

Development Project Plan
An outline for a Development Plan document that summarizes the project goals and the major activities across the different functional groups necessary to achieve those goals.

Software Project Plan
A thorough and detailed template for creating a software development plan, with annotations. It includes making tradeoffs on scope, resources, schedule and other issues with a quality focus, Excel worksheets for capacity planning, and much more.



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