How to Manage a Project

Making a Project Plan

Additional Materials

Project Plan (or Project Scoping Report)

The Project Plan (sometimes called project initiation document or project scoping report) is produced by the Project Manager following a brief Scoping Project Study. It should establish:

 A typical format is given below. As you may notice, the first five items (Part A) focus on what the project is to achieve whilst the last four items (Part B) go into more depth about how the project should be carried out.

Project Plan

Part A

1.    Title of project,
2.    Background to the Project
3.    Terms of Reference & Key Objectives
4.    Benefits & Costs Analysis
5.    Risk Assessment

Part B

6.    Resources likely to be needed
7.    Costs
8.    Proposed Project Organisation
9.    Time Schedule


Project Plan

Part A

1.     Title of project,

Together with the names of the Project Manager and Project Sponsor.


2.     Background to the Project

A brief description of the background to the project including how the project came about, what the project is about, why we are undertaking the project, and what in very broad terms the outcome of the project will be to the organisation.


3.     Terms of Reference & Key Objectives

First, a brief overall definition and description of the project and its aims including some reference to likely timescales, budget and resources, and what the project will aim to deliver. Then a statement of what the project is to deliver - the key objectives. The latter is often done as a listing the main stakeholders of the project with a statement for each of what the project will aim to deliver to them.

 4.     Benefits & Costs Analysis

A brief statement of the main benefits to be gained from undertaking this project and the main costs which will be incurred and which need to be controlled and contained. Not necessarily a full cost-benefit analysis but a brief overview.

5.     Risk Assessment

The main risks - implementation issues which may delay the project. The priority items should be identified  with suggestions as to how they could be averted or their impact lessened.

One of the simplest and best ways of doing this is to create a ‘risk register’ identifying all the events that could cause problems for the project, and then mapping these onto a Hi-Lo diagram.

Part B

6.     Resources likely to be needed

The resources, money and peoples time, which the project manager will need to carry out this project.

7.    Costs

A good estimate of overall costs to be incurred and the required budget.

8.     Proposed Project Organisation

A description of the overall project organisation, in particular the project manager, project sponsor (individual or group), team members if any, key contributors (IT, stats, etc).

Also, if the project warrants project review meetings, when they should take place and who should be involved.

9.     Time Schedule

A time plan showing the key activities which need to take place and estimates of when the activity needs to be carried out, with key milestone dates.

Best done with one of the planning techniques - Gantt Charts, Milestone Plans, Stages Diagram, or even Critical Path Analysis if the project warrants it.