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Project managers are vital to any organization consistently achieving its objectives. They ensure that projects stay on track and within budget while meeting set deadlines. As well as the people management skills necessary to get the most out of their team, a key to the effectiveness of PMs is the creation, and following of, an excellent project plan.

As they are such a valuable part of any project it’s normal to want to create the most perfect outline possible, one that can be used to effectively encourage and assess project success. The components of a project plan are extremely important, though the good thing is that they can be easily replicated across every different project you might take on.

While some might say that project plans can easily become out of date and need constant changing, with the flexibility of cloud-based project management software you can easily update and share any alterations. This allows you to quickly pivot resources and avoid possible delays and roadblocks when you see them arising.

Here we’ll take a look at how to plan out the perfect project.

Clarify your objectives

While the individual components of a project plan are all necessary, setting and communicating the overall objectives for the project are vital for success. Without a destination the journey is likely to go off track. You can use a system like SMART goals for setting your targets. This means that your objectives are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Quantify necessary resources

One of a project manager’s key responsibilities is ensuring that a project will have the resources it needs, when it needs them, so that tasks can be completed. Measuring and assigning resources can often be a delicate tight-rope walk between making sure your team has what it needs and staying within budget. A good project plan will give you the macro view you need to get a clear insight into where to best use the resources at your disposal.

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Set effective milestones

Milestones are not only targets for your team to aim for, they also provide clear evidence of project progress to all stakeholders. Not all milestones are created equally however, some are more effective than others. Identifying the ones that should be used for your project plan, such as task stream convergence or sign-off points will give your team a focus and provide success indicators to other stakeholders.

Outline reporting processes

With advances in project planning software, it is no longer necessary to request constant updates on each task strand or deliverable. These task bars can be altered by team members themselves and used to provide real-time reports and give you a clear overview of how the project is going. Therefore, one of the most important components of a project plan is outlining exactly how this process will work and who is responsible for updating information. Without a streamlined progress reporting procedure you will effectively be guiding your project in the dark and may be unaware of easily avoidable risks.

Planning the perfect project might seem like an extremely difficult task in itself but by identifying the key components needed you will be going a long way to achieving success. Try to hone the components you use so that for each project you take on, you know exactly what you need to put in place to make your plan as effective as possible and easy to transfer from project to project.