Every project is different and requires a unique planning and project implementation plan. And since 11.4% of business investment is wasted because of poor project planning, companies need to ensure that their project planning and management are strategic and efficient.
A project implementation plan is a critical component of project management that focuses on documenting how you’ll go about a project. It highlights everything from project goals to deliverables and acts as a blueprint for the project team to execute their plans and ideas.
Here’s an in-depth guide to how you can create a successful project implementation plan that helps you complete your project in time and exceed your client’s expectations.
What Is A Project Implementation Plan?
So, you’ve planned your project, brainstormed ideas and techniques, determined timelines, and developed a mission and vision. Now comes the most important part of the project lifecycle – project implementation.
Project implementation is the final stage of a project lifecycle (after initiation and planning), where you put everything, you’ve planned and built into action. You have plans, ideas, and strategies in place, and now you’re simply executing them. Next, you create deliverables, present them to relevant stakeholders, and track and monitor the status of each element in the project.
As a project manager, your role shifts from being actively involved in the process to taking the backseat and letting your team implement these plans. Your responsibility is to track the project progress in real-time, delivering tasks on time, staying on budget, and avoiding scope creep.
Simultaneously, you also need to ensure that your workforce is well-managed and there is seamless communication between the desired individuals, teams, and departments.
All in all, project implementation is all about monitoring all aspects of a project and ensuring that things go as planned. And if they don’t, the bottlenecks are identified and overcome in real-time.
Importance of a Project Implementation Plan
As a project manager, your responsibility is to ensure that the project progress aligns with the vision. However, in many cases, there’s a disconnect between project objectives and reality. For example, the project costs might end up being higher than the decided budget. Or your team may fail to keep up with the agreed deliverables.
These challenges, also known as execution gaps, are common in the project implementation process. In fact, executive leaders say that only 60% of their strategic goals are met, according to a survey by Project Management Institute.
There could be a myriad of causes for project implementation gaps, such as:
- Lack of buy-in from key stakeholders
- Too ambitious timelines
- Unrealistic deliverables
- Lack of clarity about vision and objectives
- Inefficient assessment, allotment, and utilization of organizational resources
While execution gaps are a part of the game when it comes to project management, you can drastically reduce their occurrence and impact with the help of a project implementation plan.
A project implementation plan lays out project objectives, timelines, costs, resources, and all the aspects of the project. Consider it a battle plan that your team will follow to perform the tasks, achieve the goals, and overcome the obstacles.
A typical implementation plan comprises the following key components:
- Deliverables: In an agile environment, a project is delivered in small installments (sprints) rather than a whole. These small increments are called deliverables. A project plan should include the size, frequency, and timeline of the deliverables.
- Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): KPIs are metrics that indicate the project’s progress and your team’s performance. The execution plan should list out all KPIs you’ll measure throughout the project lifecycle.
- Speed Bumps: Also known as bottlenecks, speed bumps are unplanned circumstances that may affect the project’s progress. For example, what if a team member gets sick or there’s a sudden power outage. The execution plan should highlight and address all such speed bumps.
Effective Tips to Create and Execute a Successful Project Implementation Plan
Developing a project plan doesn’t have to be complicated. In a nutshell, you just need to put your ideas and plans down on paper. However, there are several best practices you can follow to make your project planning process more efficient.
Here are 12 tips for creating and executing a successful project implementation plan.
Understand and Determine Your Projects Requirements
The chances are that you’ve already identified the key project stakeholders. The first step in project planning is to gather requirements from the stakeholders. Based on this information, you can determine what you need to deliver to your stakeholders. This requires strong communication skills so that all stakeholders are on the same page and communicate their requirements loudly and clearly.
Define the Scope and Value of Your Project
Once you have input from your stakeholders, you can define the scope of your project. A scope is a detailed outline that highlights all aspects of the project, including:
- Major deliverables
- Related activities
- Project boundaries
When creating the project scope, ask yourself if everything seems viable, logical, and achievable. If it feels like fiction, you might have to rework the scope. If it sounds pragmatic, you can go ahead and start breaking it down into smaller components.
Break Down Your Project’s Scope
Once you have a realistic project scope in place, you can break it down into more manageable derivatives. These smaller tasks are also referred to as “work packages.” This way, you’ll be able to segment your project into different parts and assign resources to each one of them. This step simplifies the project planning and management process, which facilitates coordination and improves efficiency.
Conduct In-Depth, Extensive Research
It’s important to eliminate any guessing game before kickstarting the project planning facts. Be sure to know all the facts, and if you don’t., conduct research. Delve into all the resources related to the project. These can include recordings of sales calls with clients, relevant documentation, etc.
Before committing to the project, ensure that you understand the details. As a project manager, here are a few things you should know before starting to create a project plan:
- Project goals
- Requirements and expectations of the client
- Client’s team makeup and decision-making process, including who’s the project sponsor, project manager, and stakeholders
Ask Tough Questions
It’s wise to schedule a meeting with the main client and ask some tough questions about the process, organizational structure, general risks, etc. You can also include key stakeholders and other decision-makers in the process.
Some questions that must be answered are:
- How will you collect feedback?
- Who owns the project?
- What’s the deadline?
- How will the communication take place?
- Are there any dates on which you won’t be available?
- Will there be any meetings during the project?
- Do you have an in-house we need to coordinate with?
- Are there any specific considerations that we need to keep in mind?
When you ask tough questions, two things happen. First, you leave no stone unturned, so there’s absolute clarity between you and the client. Second, you present yourself as a competitive team that knows what it’s doing.
Define and Sequence Project Activities
Once you have all the information you need, you can start breaking down your work packages even further into actionable tasks. See it like an action plan where you list down all the tasks and activities you need to complete the project.
It’s equally important to sequence the activities in the right order. However, you can also try to do things in parallel if you have the resources. In this hyper-competitive landscape, reducing the time-to-market and quickly getting your product out there is crucial. So, plan out how you can perform tasks in parallel to minimize cycle time and get more things done in less time.
You can use a dynamic QR code to track the project’s progress. Create a QR code using a QR code generator and link it to your project’s status. Anyone involved in the project can scan the code from a mobile device and check the project’s progress in real-time.
Estimate Duration, Resources, and Costs
You’ll need resources to work on any project. Some of those resources will be readily available, and some you’ll need to acquire. For example, suppose you don’t have an in-house business analyst, but you need one for the project. In that case, you’ll need to hire a business analyst.
Costs are another crucial aspect of project planning. It’s essential to accurately estimate project costs. This way, you can determine if the project is viable and keep expenses under control.
Lastly, estimate the duration of the project. This will tell you for how long your resources will be occupied. Based on that, you’ll have to assign your resources. You don’t want to tie up your major resources to a project for long, as it can affect other aspects of your organization.
Develop a High-Performance Team
Building a high-performance team is the key to project success. Ideally, a project team consists of the following roles:
- Project Manager: Responsible for planning, executing, and overseeing the project until its successful completion
- Project Team Members: Developers, QA engineers, and other professionals who actively work on the project
- Project Sponsor(s): Senior management members with a stake in the project’s outcome
- Executive Sponsor: The primary stakeholder and ultimate decision-maker of the project
- Business Analyst: Responsible for determining product-market fit and ensuring that the project adds value to the organization
When writing your project implementation plan, assign these roles to the right people who have the skills and experience to fulfill the project requirements.
Build Contingencies and Backup Plans
Planning is critical, but regardless of how much you plan, things can go south. The risk is higher for companies with a low Project Management Technology Quotient (PMTQ). Research from PMI shows that around 60% of organizations with a high PMTQ are able to complete a project on time and within budget. This number drops to about 40% for organizations with a low PMTQ.
Hence, it’s crucial to identify potential risks and build backup plans. Also, keep the organizational culture into consideration when formulating contingencies.
Create Baselines for Project Implementation Performance Measurement
Baselines define how you want the project to ideally move forward. They serve as control tools and will help you track and measure your project’s performance. If the project’s progress isn’t in line with the baselines, you might have to take corrective action. This way, you can identify issues in real-time and overcome them before it’s too late.
Finalize the Plan
Once everything is in order, it’s time to finalize the plan and document everything. You can share this final version with all the team members, stakeholders, and involved parties to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
As discussed, some projects may not go as planned. In such cases, you’ll need to react quickly and change the plans. Planning is an ongoing process, and as the project manager, you need to be agile and willing to adapt to changes.
Conclusion: Kickstart Your Project Today
Projects rarely go as planned. But when you have a plan in place, you can prepare for uncertainties and overcome them without impacting the project outcome. Creating a project implementation plan is crucial as it provides you with a clear path to follow. This ensures that you stay focused on your goals and fulfill your clients’ requirements.