Creating a project plan is not easy. We all know the headache of trying to translate the whiteboard into a workable plan. It seemed so simple at the kickoff meeting…but now everything is all up in the air. How do you create a project plan that works?
Here are my three quick tips to creating your project plan.
1. Work backwards.
Start at the beginning.
- What are the goals?
- What are the steps you need to get there?
- What do you need to do to accomplish each of those steps?
Follow that rubric, and you’ll be filling in your plan from the end – from project goal to individual action item. You’ll traverse the rocky terrain from “where are we going” to “what will the team be doing on Wednesday?” in no time, just by working your way backwards.
2. Now retrace your steps, forwards.
You have a plan, but you’re missing two key elements. Milestones, and deadlines. In order to schedule your tasks properly, you need to make sure everything has enough time to be done, and that the deadlines are realistic. Now travel your project forwards. Is there enough time for each task? Push things back, or pull them forward, based on this.
Now you can add milestones. These are important, as they will serve as checkpoints along the project. They’re a key part of the project schedule.
3. Assign tasks – and fit them to the assignee.
You have your action items, your deadlines, and your schedule. You know when things will be done, and now it’s time to decide who will being doing what. Pay close attention to their skill sets and personality here. You want each person to have the chance to shine, to have the work they can do, and most importantly – you do not want to set your team up to fail! Bring people on board for the work assignment process.