Before you start the process of creating a project plan, it is important to have an understanding of the project and how it will be executed.
On large, complex projects, this information is usually available from the following types of documents:
- Project charter or business case
- Project scope or contract documentation
- Functional specification
- Requirements baseline
- Plans and drawings
- Project execution plan
- Contracting and purchasing plan
- Equipment lists
- Installation plan
- Testing plan
Many project managers conduct a Stakeholder Analysis at the start of a project. This process lists all the people and organizations with an interest in the project and their interests or desired outcomes.
- Key success factors may be identified from the interests of the influential stakeholders.
- It is important to use the stakeholder analysis to identify all the stakeholder activities and include them in the schedule.
It is imperative to gain a good understanding of how the project is to be executed before entering any data into the software.
It is considered good practice to plan a project before creating a schedule in any planning and scheduling software. These documents are referred to by many terms such as Project Execution Plan or Project Methodology Statement. You should also understand what level of reporting the project team requires, as providing either too little or too much detail will often lead to a discarded schedule.
There are three processes required to create or maintain a project plan at each of the four levels:
- Collecting the relevant project data,
- Entering and manipulating the data in software, and
- Distributing, reviewing and revising the plan.
The ability of the scheduler to collect the data is as important as the ability to enter and manipulate the information using the software.
On larger projects, it may be necessary to write policies and procedures to ensure accurate collection of data from the various people, departments, stakeholders/companies, and sites.