Project Plans

Planning activities are the most critical aspect of project management due to the high number of interrelated project tasks. Poor planning often contributes to projects failing to meet expectations. Therefore, examiners must carefully assess the adequacy of an organization's project planning activities. Examiners should focus their assessments on management's ability to develop and employ project plans that are appropriately tailored to match a project's characteristics and risks.

The initiation phase is when a project request is submitted. Requests should justify the rationale for a project (present a business case), identify desired system features and, to the extent possible, define the overall project scope. The scope of a project includes ancillary items such as information requirements, network interfaces, and hardware components that support and interact with a requested product. Management should determine if the business case justifies the project scope (by considering issues such as tangible and intangible benefits, estimated costs, projected return-on-investment, etc.) and decide if the project is feasible. If management approves a request, the scope documentation serves as the basis for developing the project plan.

Project plans refine the scope documentation by further identifying the specific activities and resources required to complete a project. Plans should address project work activities and project management activities. Work activity planning involves organizing project teams, scheduling tasks, allocating resources, etc. Project management planning involves establishing project and risk management procedures, documenting project objectives and assumptions, defining documentation and reporting standards, etc.

Formal project plans should include:

  • Project Overviews - Project overviews detail the background of a project and explain general project objectives and strategies.
  • Roles and Responsibilities - The identification of key personnel and description of primary responsibilities enhance each team members' understanding of project assignments and reporting requirements.
  • Communication Procedures - Standardized communication and reporting procedures enhance the exchange of information between project personnel, particularly on large projects.
  • Defined Deliverables - Clearly defined project requirements and acceptance criteria are necessary to ensure management and employees understand expectations.
  • Standards - Project management, change control, and quality assurance standards increase the likelihood of project success.
  • Control Requirements - Automated control and security features that are designed into applications early in a project's life cycle enhance the features' effectiveness.
  • Quality Assurance Plan - Quality assurance plans help ensure projects and products meet organizational standards and expectations.
  • Risk Management - Risk identification, assessment, and control procedures increase the likelihood of project success.
  • Configuration Management - Configuration management plans (which describe methods for controlling and documenting changes to established project plans, service requirements, and hardware and software configurations) enhance project and maintenance efficiencies.
  • Documentation - Identification of the type and level of documentation that team members must produce throughout each project phase can help to increase a project's effectiveness and enhances maintenance capabilities.
  • Budget - Preliminary budgets that estimate project costs enhance management's ability to assess a project's feasibility. Monitoring budgets throughout a project helps management assess and control expenditures.
  • Scheduling - Project phase and activity schedules increase a project's effectiveness.
  • Testing - Test plans and schedules enhance test efficiencies and effectiveness.
  • Staff Development - Training plans and schedules enhance training efficiencies and effectiveness.

 

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