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2.70 Project Plan


All projects require a Project Plan.  The Project Plan identifies the deliverables (product, service, or result) the project is to create and how the process of creating those deliverables will be managed.  The Plan for a smaller, more straight forward project may consist of little more than a narrative that explains an accompanying Workplan.  The Plan for a complex multi-phase project may run to 50 or more pages and undergo iterative revisions as the work proceeds. 
For such larger projects, all of the details of the work and how it will be accomplished may not be known at the outset and may, in fact, only become clear as the work progresses and the team and manager gain relevant experience.  In these circumstances, many sections of the Plan will need to address not only what is currently understood but explain the processes that will be used to gather and analyze additional information and make revisions to the base plan as those processes run their course.

The Project Plan effectively constitutes a contract between the project sponsor and the project manager that defines their mutual obligations.  Analogous to a contract, amendments to the Project Plan, once approved, are subject to a rigorous change control process which is detailed at Section 15.0, Change Control.  Approval of the Project Plan provides the project manager’s authority to carry out (execute) the plan and, thus, to expend organizational resources on realizing the plan.



Decision Document or Business Case

Complexity Estimator

Project Charter

Work Breakdown Structure

Function and Feature Specifications, if any


Relevant quality standards

Communication Plan, especially stakeholder analyses

Human Resource Plan or RAM

Risk Management Plan or Analysis and Management Matrix


A Project Plan


To prepare the Project Plan, the project manager needs a comprehensive understanding of the project and how its deliverables will be created.  This understanding is vital if the project is to be successful.  Without the “roadmap” that the Project Plan constitutes, the likelihood of the project reaching a successful conclusion is remote.

Absent an approved Project Plan the problems a project will encounter include:

  • There will be no agreement among the parties as to what the project is intended to accomplish, when, and how;

  • Similarly, there will be no agreement as to what the project is not intended to do;

  • There will be no agreement among the parties as to what resources are available to the project to accomplish its intended results;

  • There will be no agreement as to the parties' needs, expectations, or their respective roles and responsibilities;

  • There will be no plan for anticipating and dealing with uncertainties.

The result will be that no one will get what they want or need at a price they are prepared to pay and resources, of time, money, material, and good will, will have been squandered.


1.    Obtain all preliminary documents (Decision Document, Business Case, Complexity Estimator, Project Charter, etc.)

2.    Download Project Plan Template.

3.    Review Project Plans for similar previous projects, consult other project managers on content and process.

4.    Confirm scope (WBS and Functions and Features Specification) with project sponsor and steering committee (as appropriate).

5.    Draft as much of the Plan as possible, consulting with team members, stakeholders, and subject matter experts as appropriate.

6.    Prepare Workplan.

7.    Clarify organizational issues with sponsor (composition, role, and responsibilities of Steering Committee, use of advisory and other processes, change control procedures, risk tolerances, etc.)

8.    Review with team members and sponsor as appropriate.

9.    Draft subsidiary plans as appropriate (Communication, Risk, HR, etc.)

10.  Use information from subsidiary plans to elaborate relevant Project Plan sections.

11.  Consolidate revised draft; review with sponsor and key stakeholders as appropriate.

12.  Submit v1.0 for formal approval and signing.

Purpose of this Project Plan

This Project Plan provides a foundation for a common understanding among members of the project team and the project stakeholders of how it is intended to achieve the objectives and deliver the scope this project was chartered to achieve.  In addition, it serves four broad, interrelated purposes:

  • To identify project deliverables, budget, and timelines;

  • To define the work to be performed and the roles and responsibilities of each party in the conduct of that work;

  • To explore the relationship between the project and its environment including links, dependencies, assumptions, constraints, and risks; and

  • To explain how the project will be managed.

In doing this, it addresses each of the matters set out in the Table of Contents, following.

Table of Contents

   1.0     Rationale and Benefits         

   2.0     Major Deliverables

   3.0     Functions and Features

   4.0     Scope (see also Summary Work Breakdown at Appendix X)

   5.0     Quality

   6.0     Timelines and Milestones

   7.0     Budget

   8.0     Resources

   9.0     Links and Dependencies

   10.0   Assumptions and Constraints

   11.0   Risk

   12.0   Stakeholders

   13.0   Communications

   14.0   Project Organization

   15.0   Project Control

Appendix A –

Appendix X – Summary Work Breakdown


1.0    Rationale and Benefits       

(Outline the problem or opportunity the project is intended to address.Explain how the problem or opportunity came to be recognized, what its key dimensions are, and how the project bears on those key dimensions.Indicate the benefits JI will capture or realize on successful completion of this project.Explain how the new product, service, or result developed through this project will allow the JI to better fulfill its mandate or better serve its clients and other stakeholders.Append a copy of the relevant decision document, if appropriate.)

2.0    Major Deliverables

(Identify the new product(s), service(s), or result(s) the project is intended to create.  Explain the relationship between these deliverables and the rationale for undertaking, and the benefits that are expected to flow from the successful completion of, the project.)

3.0    Functions and Features

(Outline the functions the project deliverables are intended to fulfill.  Also identify the key features the deliverables need to embody.  The functions and features should be expressed in quantifiable terms so as to clearly express the acceptance criteria for each deliverable.)

4.0    Scope

(Explain the boundaries of the project so as to clearly identify what work is included in the project [“in scope”] and what similar or related work is excluded [“out of scope”].  Also identify the major components [first level] of the project work breakdown structure in sufficient detail that a knowledgeable stakeholder can form reliable expectations as to the work which will, and will not, be done.  Include a summary work breakdown structure in an appendix to this plan.)

5.0    Quality

(Explain the principles, approaches, and processes that will be used to establish the quality management framework for the project.  The framework may address some or all of quality objectives, identifying, interpreting, and applying relevant deliverable, function, feature, or performance standards and policies.  Questions of how to measure compliance with those standards and policies and how to resolve issues, either regarding the applicability of various standards or policies or whether compliance has been achieved, should be addressed in this section.  For more complex projects, particularly information or communications systems projects, or projects where the relevant standards are either non-existent, poorly articulated, or subject to dispute attach a quality management plan as an appendix to this plan.)

6.0    Timelines and Milestones

(Identify the timelines associated with the production of each intermediate deliverable in terms of both time to produce and milestone dates [charts and tables can be helpful here].  For larger projects include a summary project schedule as an appendix to this plan.)

7.0    Budget

(Identify the estimated total cost for the project in sufficient detail that a knowledgeable stakeholder can understand the proposed use of staff, contracted, and material resources over time [consider linking cash requirements to the information contained in section 5, Timelines and Milestones].  Explain which of these expenditures are capital in nature, and thus which will require ongoing operational support, and which operational expenditures fall in which fiscal years.  The use of tables, charts, or graphs is both appropriate and helpful in this section.  Be certain to explain the estimating ranges associated with the budget projections and the reasons for your level of confidence in them.)

8.0    Human and Material Resources

8.1    Human Resources

(Identify the knowledge, skills, and abilities that the team will require, including their level {e.g. expert, skilled, working] in order to bring the project to a successful conclusion.  Also indicate the period over which these various skills will be required [start and end dates] and the commitment required [e.g. full time, ½ time, etc.].  Finally, identify the intended source(s) of these resources of knowledge, skill, and ability [e.g. within organizational unit, within JI, external].  For more complex projects a complete human resources plan should be attached as an appendix to this plan.)

8.2    Material Resources

(Identify any significant material resources [e.g. specialized tools or equipment, information or communications systems, clothing or safety equipment, etc.] that the project will require to achieve a successful conclusion.  For highly specialized material resources, also identify the proposed source(s) for such resources, noting any supply constraints such as lengthy back-orders.)

9.0    Links and Dependencies

9.1    Links

(Identify the operational work and any other projects that this project is intended to support or facilitate.  Explain how the product, service, or result created by this project contributes to or is required as an input to that operational work or other project.)

9.2    Dependencies

(Identify the operational work and any other projects that provide necessary inputs to this project.  Explain how the outputs of that operational work or the product, service, or result created by this other project contributes to or is required as an input to this project.)

10.0  Assumptions and Constraints

10.1  Assumptions

(Identify the assumptions made in developing the proposed approach to this project.  Particularly note the assumptions underlying project scope, schedule, and budget.  Items to review include the state of technological development, the availability of key staff and critical skills, seasonality and budget cycles, relationships among stakeholders, and risk tolerance, among others.  References to relevant links and dependencies should also be considered in this section.  Also explain the consequences of key assumptions proving to be mistaken and the efforts that have been made to test key assumptions.)

10.2  Constraints

(Identify any firm constraints that limit the project management team’s flexibility in responding to changing circumstances.  Constraints can affect any of scope, time, cost, quality, human resources, communications, risk, and procurement.  Note which, if any, of these factors is more flexible in the event that trade-offs become necessary.  References to relevant links and dependencies should also be considered in this section.)

11.0  Risk

11.1  Risk Plan

(Explain the process that was used to identify, assess, and plan for project-related uncertainty.  For large projects provide the risk management plan as an appendix to this plan.  For more complex projects a complete risk management plan should be attached as an appendix to this plan.)

11.2  Risk Management

(Explain the preliminary risk register [provide as an appendix to this plan] and the frequency and process for its review.  Also outline the issue escalation procedures.)

12.0  Stakeholders

(Stakeholders are groups and individuals whose interests [things that are important to them] are favourably or unfavourably affected by either the conduct or the result of the project.  Identify all known project stakeholders and those of their interests which are affected by the project.  Also indicate whether their input has been sought in preparation of this plan and, if not, when and how they will be made aware of the project and its relevance to their presumed interests.)

13.0  Communications

(Based on the stakeholders identified and analyzed in Section 12, Stakeholders, identify each stakeholder’s information needs, the nature of the contribution required of that stakeholder to bring the project to a successful conclusion, the primary team member who will manage communication with that stakeholder, the preferred medium(a) of communication, and the planned frequency of communication in each medium.  Attach a sample Stakeholder Analysis & Communication Management Matrix either following or as an appendix to this plan.  For more complex projects, also attach a communication management plan as an appendix to this plan.)

14.0  Project Organization

(Outline the roles, responsibilities, and relationships of the various bodies engaged in the conduct and management of the project.  An organization chart is particularly helpful and can be included in the text or attached as an appendix to this plan.)

15.0  Project Control

(This section should address the processes that will be applied to control changes to the project plan once it is approved.  Different processes may be appropriate to different management domains.  For example, scope changes may require steering committee approval while budget changes only require the approval of the sponsor and human resource changes can be approved by the project manager.  If that is the case for this project, identify the differences and discuss their rationale.  This section should also outline the roles and responsibilities of key project team members including the steering committee, sponsor, project manager, and team leads [if any].)

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