How to create a project management plan that actually works (Template included)

Your project management plan is the map that’s going to guide you through your project from beginning to end. Here’s how to make a great one that keeps you on track (even when things get weird).

scope creep.

When your stakeholders’ expectations and all agreed deliverables are clearly laid out in the project plan document, it’s easier to spot when things are out of scope.

And just as importantly, it makes it easier to address them, too. That’s because you have a written document or re-optimize your resources on the fly.)

It builds confidence in your project

Having a detailed project plan helps to reassure your project sponsor, your stakeholders, and your project team (and let’s be honest, maybe yourself if you’re having a particularly bad day) of where you’re going and why.

Your project plan document builds confidence in your leadership as a project manager, because it allows everyone to see how all of the work comes together to advance the project’s — and by extension, the organization’s — Learn more about using Milestones here.

5. Identify who’s responsible for what

Once you start to get a big-picture understanding of the work that’s needed and the resources you have to complete it, you can start deciding who should do what. Giving each item an owner is essential to getting things done. No more “oh, was I supposed to do that?” — once you identify who’s responsible for what, you can ensure accountability and transparency.

The 5 Stages of Team Development

The 5 Stages of Team Development

All teams develop according to some natural patterns and using that knowledge, you can offer some guidance to build the kind of team that communicates well and finds better ways to collaborate and achieve the goals you’ve established. Here’s what you need to know.

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How to make a project plan

1. Start with a high level project plan template

What does a project plan look like in your organization? When you’re creating a project plan, start by drawing on any existing materials you can use to guide you, like project plan samples or project plan templates.

Whether your organization provides you with a high level project plan template, a project planning form, project plan samples, or a project planning calendar, leverage any organizational process assets you can.

Don’t have a project plan template available? Make your own, and use it for all future projects to save time and replicate your successes.

Project management template

Project management template

Save time on setup without sacrificing attention to detail. With our project management template, you can quickly create project management plans that help you complete your project on time and on budget.

2. Then tailor it to match your project type

A project plan template or sample project is a great way to get started with your planning, but don’t forget to choose the right project plan type for your specific project.

Your project plan should be tailored to your particular project type, team type, and needs. For example, an Project Management Body of Knowledge Guide and Standards, some other plans to include as part of your project management plan are:

  • Scope management plan

  • Requirements management plan

  • Schedule management plan

  • Cost management plan

  • Quality management plan

  • Resource management plan

  • Communications management plan

  • Risk management plan

  • Procurement management plan

  • Stakeholder engagement plan

While the PMBOK recommends having these 10 plans as standard, you might find that different projects require different approaches.

Nonetheless, even if you don’t have a comprehensive document for each one, it’s good to cover each of these bases at some stage of your PM planning so you’re prepared.

You might also want to include some or all of the following:

  • Change management plan

  • Configuration management plan

  • Performance measurement baseline

  • Project life cycle

  • Development approach (e.g. predictive, iterative, agile, hybrid)

  • Management reviews

If you have these documents already, use them to guide your planning. You can also include them in an appendix to your project management plan so they’re always close to hand.

5. Put your project management plan somewhere central

Just like your project charter, your project management plan should live somewhere central where everyone — stakeholders, the project team, management, clients — can access it.

Teamwork Spaces is great for storing all of your important project planning documents in a way that makes them intuitive and enjoyable to read. Mark essential SOPs or processes as Required Reading to ensure that essential info actually gets read.

And if someone has a question that they can’t find the answer to? Readers can leave comments on individual spaces to ask for clarification or leave an update.

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Use a project management tool to turn your project management plan into a plan of action

Once you’ve documented your project management plan, bring it to life with a project management tool that will help you to stay on track, keep your team accountable, and promote transparency.

Here are 3 ways you can use Teamwork to supercharge your project management plan.

Add your supporting documentation to Teamwork Spaces

Use the Teamwork and Teamwork Spaces integration to link a project in Teamwork with a space in Teamwork Spaces, so your important project documents are only ever a click away.

Some documents you might want to add in addition to your project charter and project management plan include:

  • Scoping documents

  • Risk assessments

  • Change management plans

  • SOPs for important project processes

  • List of stakeholders and their roles

  • Outline of approval processes

  • Communications management plan

  • Any other best practices documentation or supporting info as necessary

You can even embed task lists into your pages and mark tasks as complete right from Teamwork Spaces, so you can keep work flowing without even needing to switch tabs.

Start adding your Milestones

Break down your work into Milestones and task lists that are going to help you reach them. With Teamwork, you can assign an owner to each Milestone, map out your Milestone due dates and see them represented in the project calendar, and even get a full Change History for Milestones so you can track any edits.

Visualize your task dependencies with a Gantt chart

Gantt chart-style views are a useful way to get a visual representation of your tasks and their dependencies, allowing for better scheduling and resourcing. In Teamwork, you can drag and drop to quickly rearrange your project schedule, without throwing everything out of order or straying off-plan.

Remember: software should support the way you work, not dictate it. So regardless of methodology or team type, create a project plan that works for you and your team — and find a tool that helps you put it into action.

Use our project plan template

Now that you know how to create a project management plan that actually works, you’re ready to implement your project plan in Teamwork!

To help you get up and running quickly, we’ve created a ready to use project plan template. Our project template will help you quickly create project plans that ensure all of your projects are completed on time and on budget

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