A work plan is a guiding document outlining a project’s goals, each team member’s tasks, an execution timeline, and an actionable strategy to achieve targets.
It also outlines the budgetary requirements, resources, and deliverables of the project. Thus, the work plan acts as the team’s map to ultimate project success.
Managing a project can be difficult as many considerations are to be made. Undertaking a project without an actionable plan can lead to confession, time wastage, resource wastage, and eventually failure. Formulating an effective work plan can maximize the chances of success. A work plan can be implemented regardless of the size of the project. It can also be used in various professional capacities.
A work plan will help ensure that tasks are carried out in an organized manner. It can secure buy-in from key individuals such as stakeholders, risk leaders, or even related departments. It can also help establish and manage expectations by stakeholders, managers, and team members. The work plan will provide a foundation for critical decisions on the project and its execution. Adequate time should be allocated for the formation of the work plan.
Types of Work Plan
Different types of work plans can focus on various aspects of the project. An individual drafting a work plan should clearly understand how the various types of work plans impact the document. The type of work plan created will depend on who is drafting it.
The following are some commonly used types of work plans with their templates:
Employee work plan
An employee work plan is a type of documents used by individuals and small groups to describe what needs to happen to complete the project. It also provides a set of guidelines on how the project will be executed. An effective employee work plan should contain the project's goals, budget, cost, resources, and completion timeline.
Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)
Manager work plan
A manager work plan is a document that outlines the project's benefits, costs, budget and demonstrates its quantifiable impact on the business. It covers a large project scope and should include other details like the objectives and goals of the project. It helps guide the decisions of the manager(s).
Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)
Business owner work plan
A business owner's work plan is a type of document that focuses on annual goals or new product proposals. Business owners commonly use it to provide a general perspective of what needs to be accomplished. An effective business owner's work plan also contains market research and long-term projections.
Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)
How to Create a Work Plan
Creating an effective work plan will help ensure that team members stay on track. It may also be the difference between the failure or success of the project. Following a detailed guide will ensure that the creator of the work plan drafts a well-structured document.
The following is a guide on how to create a work plan:
Define your project
First, the purpose of the project must be defined. Defining why the project is being carried out helps form a base for the rest of the document. Once the project’s purpose has been established, create a suitable project name. The name enables the significant stakeholders to discern the project’s purpose from the onset. The scope of the project should also be indicated. It will provide an overview of the magnitude of the project.
Write the introduction and background
The project manager should write an introduction and background to provide major stakeholders with context. The introduction explains why the work plan has been created, while the background explains why it is necessary. The project manager should keep these details short and engaging. Providing context on the work plan establishes why its creation is essential to the project’s success.
Determine your goals and objectives
Goals are general, while objectives are specific. Determining the goals of the work plan provides an overall perspective on what the project manager hopes it will accomplish. The project manager should break down the goals into long-term, short-term and mid-term goals.
Long-term goals can be defined as what the team hopes to accomplish in the future, such as how to increase company income by 30%. Short-term goals are what the team hopes to accomplish shortly, such hire marketing employees over the next six months. Mid-term goals break down the task into manageable components, such as implementing a new employee program in 2 weeks.
The project manager should also outline the objectives of the work plan, which can either be external or internal. The project manager should be able to check the objectives off the list once they have been accomplished. The objectives should be written in an active voice with an action verb that has a specific meaning, e.g., increase, plan, measure, etc. The work plan objectives should be measurable or tangible to ensure that their outcomes have a visible impact on the project.
Order your work plan by “SMART” objectives
The criteria used to guide the work plan objectives will help ensure the effectiveness of the tasks carried out by the team. The project manager should consider using the SMART objectives setting guidelines. The SMART acronym stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound objectives. It helps ensure that the objectives are clear, logical, visible, quantifiable, and time-bound.
The following example can be used to demonstrate how the project manager can use SMART objectives:
- Specific: To increase the company’s net profit by 25 %
- Measurable: Measure progress through bi-monthly progress reports
- Achievable: Conduct marketing research and company analysis in the next month
- Realistic: Based on the research, increase customer reviews and correspondence to increase sales
- Time-bound: Set the goal time limit to 2 years
Set project timelines
Setting a clear timeline for when the project will begin and end will ensure that team members stay on track. It will also ensure that the project plan stays within budget. The project manager should break down the work plan’s timeline to ensure that goals are achieved on an already outlined schedule.
List essential deliverables
The project manager should indicate a detailed list of key deliverables. The deliverables help show major stakeholders and project approvers that the work plan will yield visible results. The team can list to assess whether progress has been made on the project.
Identify any constraints
The project manager should identify potential obstacles to the work plan’s goal and objectives. The Triple constraints of time, budget, and resources should also be considered. Their consideration will ensure that risks to the implementation process of the work plan are identified.
Identification of obstacles will also ensure that the team can take measures to limit the impact of the risks and obstacles. Factoring in constraints that may affect deliverables ensures that the team is not overwhelmed when they inevitably occur.
Discuss risks, assumptions, and accountability
The work plan should highlight potential risks associated with each member’s tasks, duties, and responsibilities. An individual should be placed in charge of monitoring the risks. It may be the project manager or a member of the team. The work plan should also outline tasks allocated to each member. Allocation of tasks minimizes risks and ensures accountability among members.
Define your resources and requirements
The project manager should ensure the work plan contains a comprehensive list of resources and requirements. Defining the essential requirements will ensure that members have what they need to achieve the outlined objectives and ensure project success.
Major stakeholders must be consulted when to ensure that key requirements are not left out. Once general requirements are identified, the project manager should outline specific resources and their costs. Listing the resources will ensure that the project manager can determine the amount of money that should be budgeted and how the resources will be managed.
Organize the people for your project
The work plan should identify the individuals that will be part of the project, their roles, and their responsibilities. The project manager should outline who the target customer is and who has a vested interest in the project’s success. Organizing people will help the project manager create an effective communication plan that suits each stakeholder category.
Establish team responsibilities
The project manager should assign leaders to the team who can ensure that objectives are achieved. The team leader while keeps track of the progress made by members. Large projects with multiple teams should have a hierarchy of leaders to coordinate the efforts of the members. The leaders will answer to the project manager. The project manager’s main focus in this setup will be the overall timely progress of the project.
Establish a project communications plan
A work plan should contain a communication strategy to ensure the success of the project. The project manager should consider the communication objectives, target audience, key content, method, and frequency when formulating the plan. Considering these details will ensure that the work plan explains the message’s goal, who the message is for, what information needs to be communicated, what methods will be used to send the message, and how often it will be used.
Write your strategy
The project manager should outline a strategy on how tasks outlined in the work plan will be executed. Outlining an actionable strategy will ensure team members know the steps they will need to take to accomplish tasks. The strategy will help ensure that the goals and objectives outlined in the work plan are achieved.
Note: A Gantt Chart is used for small projects. It uses a simple list to sort out tasks and deliverables. The Gannt chat ensures that details such as the project’s start date, tasks, assigned members, execution timeline, and project deadline are indicated in a well-linked structure.
How to Make Your Work Plan Effective
Creating an effective work plan will ensure the project’s goals are realized. It will also enhance the efficiency of team collaborations. Understanding how to make the work plan more efficient will enable project managers to create a document they can trust.
The following tips can help a project manager ensure a work plan is effective:
Identify milestones for a large project
Work plan efficiency can be achieved by identifying milestones for a large project. Project milestones help the team and manager keep track of the progress being made. They also enhance stakeholder confidence by showing significant success checkpoints in the project’s schedule. Project managers can use the milestones identified in the work plan to ensure that resources are not overutilized.
Make your work plan work for you
An efficient work plan serves the needs of the project. Project managers should customize their work plans to suit the size and type of project it is streamlining. A customized work plan ensures that the document provides unique solutions to a specific project’s problems. It also helps ensure the appropriate allocation of resources.
Incorporate Input from team members
A work plan should incorporate the input of individuals responsible for working on the project. Requesting and considering the input of team members and key stakeholders will help ensure that every element concerning the project is considered. It will also enable the project manager to speed up the process of creating a work plan.
A work plan enables a project manager to plan how the project will be executed. The project manager is able to outline goals, objectives, tasks, deliverables, obstacles, and project timelines. An effective work plan should identify milestones to be achieved to help enable the project manager to help track the project’s progress. It should also be specific to the needs of the project. A work plan provides a project manager with a full perspective of the steps required to ensure success.