A well-crafted project management plan template is a collaborative resource that should be shared.
A project management plan template means that someone has cared enough to put their experiences down on paper for others to benefit from by applying to your own projects. You understand what a gift a project management Plan template is if you have ever had to stare at a blank screen to put your project plan together. What are some of the reasons that a project management Plan template is so beneficial? The following are six reasons why you should start planning your next project with a project plan template:
Reason #1 – A Project management Plan template is Derived from Experience
There may have been a succession of project managers before you that compiled the project management Plan template based upon their experience with the company. This is a great thing because it captures the nuances and subtleties of the company that may not be obvious to you, especially if you are new to the company. Additionally, it most likely incorporates some type of development methodology. This could be the waterfall method or one of the more recent agile project management methodologies. All of these methodologies have also been vetted out over the years and include years of experience that can benefit your project and planning process.
Reason #2 – Every Project Environment is Unique
A project management Plan template that is built from the inside out within a company captures their unique culture and environment. For example, there may be a unique need to get approvals on a certain document sooner rather than later in the project plan or a particular deliverable always needs to be reviewed twice before moving forward. A project management Plan template will capture the company’s way of doing business and completing projects and provide a basis for everyone to follow.
Reason #3 – It Saves Substantial Amounts of Time in the Planning Process
Starting from scratch when it comes to putting a project plan together is an unnecessary waste of time. At the very least you could start with a project plan that is from a similar project. Still, there are no guarantees that even a plan from a similar project captured all the lessons learned, updates, improvements, and modifications that have been discovered. That’s why it’s important to have a standard, off-the-shelf, latest and greatest version of a project plan template. This will save substantial amounts of time and always guarantee you have the most recent project plan to start your project planning process.
Reason #4 – Planning Templates Help Project Managers Make Sure Nothing Is Missed
Project plans can be very complicated and contain an almost innumerable amount of moving parts. There are still things you can miss regardless of how long you may have been a project manager. For example, if your career development path has been more business than technically focused it could be easy for you to miss something like ‘unit testing’ for a software development project, and while not readily apparent to you, it could make a big difference in the quality of the project if “unit testing” was missed. A project management Plan template can assist you as project manager because it will often include more items than your project requires. It’s better to take out what is not needed as opposed to leaving out a critical element of the project plan.
Reason #5 – It Gets Better Over Time
A project management Plan template is like a bottle of wine…it gets better over time. Feedback on the projects that have been implemented based upon this plan will continue to be incorporated into the project plan template. It may be discovered that certain tasks were left out, or that something took longer than expected. Or, it may have been discovered that certain tasks were not necessary at all and could be deleted. The goal is to have the project management Plan template to reflect as close as possible exactly what needs to be done to the project.
Reason #6 – It’s Easy to Create a Baseline and Adjust Accordingly
A project management Plan template that continues to evolve over time will allow you to see the progression of events that made up this template. It’s good form to have some type of version control attached to this document. Each time a change is made to the project management Plan template it should be recorded in a version history. This version history should include the version number, date, what was changed, who made the change, and if appropriate the reason why a particular change was made. Keeping accurate records around the version number and changes that were made will also ensure that everyone is using the same template and not an older version. The previous version should then be saved in some type of Archive folder.
No two projects will be identical. There’s always going to be some small and some not so small changes made to the planning template to bring it more in line with what’s being done on the current project, which is where you, as project manager, get to share your learning by incorporating the knowledge you gain back into the project management Plan template for next time.