Developing a Project Plan is explained through a detailed example in the section of this chapter titled 'The Step-by-Step Guide'. The approach presented can be used for simple and complex projects. To ensure that all the different considerations in developing a Project Plan are covered, the example is slightly more complex than in the previous chapters. If you take a little time to understand this chapter, you will see the approach explained is straightforward. So having grasped it, you will understand the most complex part of this book.
Setting the scene
Imagine that you are about to sign a contract with one of your suppliers who will do a major piece of work for your business, perhaps the development of a new computer system for your office or the re-fitting of a chain of shops. Alternatively, in your private life you may be asking a builder to do some work on your house. Whichever example you consider, you are about to ask the supplier to do a project for you. Imagine you have already agreed what this project will deliver using the approach described in Chapter 2, so you know you will get what you want. What more information do you want from your supplier before you commit to the contract? The most important questions you will have to ask are usually: 'How long will this work take?' and 'How much will it cost?'
Now instead of thinking about someone doing a project for you, imagine you are doing a project for someone else. They want to know how long you will take and how much you will charge. To answer these questions you need to understand how you will do the project and how much it will cost you to do the project and the answers to these questions are found by developing a Project Plan.
Project plans do not always provide the answer you want to hear. For example, you may have a condition that the project is to be completed by the end of May, but the plan shows it will take until the end of July. Alternatively, you may have a maximum of 10k to spend on your project, but the plan shows it will cost 25k. The Project Plan enables you to check that you can actually do the work within the conditions defined, and that it makes sense for you to do it.
Project Plans sit at the core of managing projects and so this is one of the longest chapters in the book. Good planning is what enables a project manager to take the understanding of what is to be delivered and reliably make this happen to a predicted cost and time. Doing any complex task without planning first means you do not know how long it will take and how much it will cost and such predictability is often essential in business and private life. More critically, without a plan your ability to meet the original objectives of the project (the 'why' and the 'what') is completely uncertain. Without a plan you are stepping out into the dark.
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