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Project Management

4 Core Questions Every Successful Project Plan Answers

Stephanie Gonzaga
November 20, 2014

Do you know what sets a successful project apart from the 37% to 45% of projects doomed to fail?

It’s not a team of world-class experts or a handful of wealthy clients. It’s neither a lengthy timeline nor a generous budget.

A successful project is backed by a definitive and flexible project plan. (click to tweet)

A project plan is your strategic tool to manage a project under scope and within the budget and timeline.

It’s what you’ll use to guide your team as they work to complete project tasks, milestones, and goals. It informs your clients about the requirements, potential risks, and how to navigate through these events in order to complete the project. Learn how to convince your team and clients a plan is worth the time invested.

No matter the industry or the type of project you’re working on, you need a project plan that will map out how you, your team, and your stakeholders will get from Point A to Point Z.

How to create a project plan that people want to read

To create an effective project plan, you need to approach it as more than a boring and lengthy document.

When you see your project plan as a critical component to your project, this piece of paper becomes integral to its success.

The first step to creating a great project plan is to write it in such a way that your teammates and clients will want to read it.

Beyond the design and fancy fonts, your project plan should communicate information that your teammates and clients need to know about the project. This may include:

4 core questions your project plan should answer

There are many possible ways to do this. At the end of the day, it should answer these four core questions:

Core question #1: What are the major deliverables?

This question forces you to be clear about what you want to achieve when embarking on this project. Moreover, you can use this question to check if you and your project team are working within scope and that each step you take leads you to those deliverables.

Core question #2: How will we get to those deliverables before or by the deadline?

This question requires you to think strategically to be able to create or achieve these major deliverables on time and on budget.

Digging deeper, you may want to consider the possible changes or risks that may affect your ability to meet these requirements. You can then devise solutions to work around these events and stay on track.

No matter the industry or the type of project you're working on, you need a project plan that will map out how you, your team, and your stakeholders will get from Point A to Point Z. Tools, like gantt charts, ensure that you complete projects on time, but also on budget.

Core question #3: Who is on the project team, and what role will they play?

This question addresses a crucial aspect of any project: who will be the people you’re bringing on board to help you complete the project?

You need to be clear on who your teammates are, how they work, and what role/s they’re to fulfill. A RACI chart can help you ensure each person is clear about their responsibilities during the course of the project.

Core question #4: When will the team meet milestones and when will other members of the team play a role in contributing to or providing feedback on those deliverables?

Your project timeline should answer this question. This is where you’ll plot the deadlines for each specific milestone and decide when the team will come together to discuss progress and updates and who will either work on or provide feedback for specific deliverables.

Be prepared.

These 4 core questions ensure that you’ve considered the most crucial details about your project before diving in. It saves you from project self-destruction and keeps you and your team on track and within scope.

With that said, let these questions motivate you to sit down and create your free project plan today!

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