PROJECT MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES – Project Management Plan (Part 5)

This post is the fifth in a series of discussions regarding current challenges being encountered in today’s project management.  More specifically, we have titled the series PROJECT MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES, since we intend to focus heavily on the managerial aspects of program / project management.  This post addresses the Project Management Plan [also known as Project Execution Plan, Project Plan and other titles].  The last post (Part 4) addressed the project planning process.

Authoritative information and guidance regarding project management comes from many sources.  A few that may be obvious include:

In order to frame and organize this topic, we are using the PMI Project Management Processes for a Project as presented in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide).

Many discussion groups and forums can be helpful.  These include AACE, PMI, LinkedIn and others.

A logical and often asked question is along the lines of “Why plan?” as it can be complicated, time-consuming and aggravating.  There are several key benefits to planning.

  • “Value in the Process – much is learned and baselines are created.  Hence, the team has a path forward and a basis for measuring departures or variances.”
  • “Value in the Document [Project Management Plan] – the document can be used as a basis for informing stakeholders of the intentions and to achieve requisite approvals.”
  • “Value that endures – project teams grow, change and ultimately drawdown.  The Project Management Plan (appropriately updated) is a valuable tool to inform or “level set” new team members.”

Sources that are used in this post are:

The process tends to be problematic.  Many teams and organizations struggle with how to perform the planning.  In this regard, the order or sequence of planning is quite important.  A proper sequence creates efficiency and avoids costly and time-consuming rework.

The planning process differs for differing organizations and types of projectsPMBOK® provides guidance regarding the plan data flow (PMBOK, page 79).  This can be adapted to the organizational structure and project specifics.

The Project Management Plan can consist of several pages of information and direction or a bookshelf full of many volumes of documents.  These many volumes can have a hierarchical structure.  PMBOK® provides guidance regarding this deliverable/work product.  The Project Management Plan (also known as Project Execution Plan, Project Plan, and other similar titles) is defined as:

“A formal, approved document that defines how the project is executed, monitored, and controlled.  It may be summary or detailed and may be composed of one or more subsidiary management plans and other planning documents.”

The Project Management Plan has some or all of the following content:

  • “Project Objectives”
  • “Project Charter”
  • “Stakeholders”
  • “Project Baselines
    • Schedule
    • Cost
    • Scope”
  • “Subsidiary Plans
    • Scope Management Plan
    • Requirements Management Plan
    • Schedule Management Plan
    • Cost Management Plan
    • Quality Management Plan
    • Process Improvement Plan
    • Human Resource Plan
    • Communications Management Plan
    • Risk Management Plan
    • Procurement Management Plan
    • Design Management Plan
    • Construction Management Plan
    • Others consistent with the type and nature of the project.”
  • “Appendices [include Responsibility Matrix or RACI chart]”

Kerzner elaborates on the Project Management Plan [or Project Plan, as he calls it], which he indicates should include:

  • “Objectives”
  • “Statement of Work”
  • “Project Specifications”
  • “Milestone Schedule”
  • “Work Breakdown Structure”

When performing planning and developing the Project Management Plan, expert judgment is often utilizedPMBOK® lists the following areas for application of project planning expertise, which would include preparation of the Project Management Plan:

  • “Tailor the process to meet the project needs,”
  • “Develop technical and management details to be included in the Project Management Plan,”
  • “Determine resources and skill levels needed to perform project work,”
  • “Define the level of configuration management to apply on the project, and”
  • “Determine which project documents will be subject to the formal change control process.”

In subsequent posts, we will address issues or problems often encountered in Project Planning.

The experience of McLaughlin and McLaughlin includes the planning of many large and complex projects.  Within these projects, M&M has found that time and patience applied during the project planning is essential and invaluable relevant to project success potential.  Further, M&M experience is that lack of robust Project Management Plan can seriously degrade the project success potential.


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