How to Plan a Project: 10 Steps to Write an Awesome Project Plan

Creating and executing a project are extremely important steps for your business because if you can’t do these two things you’re going to have very few clients. So, what do you do? Well, the first thing is to learn how to create a project plan that will make you successful every single time. But when it comes to project plans they’re as different as the projects that you’re working on. So how do you make sure that you’re creating something spectacular every time? Well, you’re going to have to follow these ten steps to write an awesome project plan.

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What is a Project Plan?

Before we get too far along let’s take a little closer look at what a project plan is. Your project plan is the step-by-step process that you plan to follow to get from where you are right now to an end goal and a deadline (which your client will give you). Your plan helps you figure out everything that you need to do to achieve that goal and it helps the rest of the people on your team (because you definitely can’t do it alone) figure out what they need to do as well. The more you work with them to create your plan the better off it’s going to be.
When you start a project plan you’re going to be laying out different tasks and subtasks that need to be achieved for your team to get where it needs to go. The plan is a process. It’s like when you’re preparing for a trip and you print out the directions (or you download them on your phone). Those directions give you everything you need to know to get from point A (where you are now) to point B (where you want to end up). It’s the same when you’re trying to achieve a task within your business.

Why You Need a Project Plan

But even if you know what a project plan is, why is it important? What are you going to get out of having a project plan? The truth is, you’re going to get a lot of things. The most important is that you’re going to have a better chance of success. By writing down what you want to achieve and laying out the steps that it takes to get there you’re cementing the entire process further into your brain and you’re making it more likely that you will work through each of those steps to get from point A to point B. That’s the most important aspect.
You’re also going to make the process easier for yourself. When you write out each of the steps you and the rest of the team are responsible for it’s easier for everyone to check in and see what still needs to be done, what’s already been done, and more. You can see your progress or where you’re falling behind. You can also make sure that you’re on the right schedule or what you need to do to improve it. The project plan makes sure that everyone on the team is on the same page, which is a crucial part of the process.
Finally, a project plan is going to make sure that your client gets what they expect. With a plan, you are staying on top of tasks and assignments. You’re getting the milestones completed on time and getting your client deliverables that they’ve requested. All of that is going to make it easier for you to keep your client happy and that’s going to make it easier for your business to stay in business and continue providing excellent service to all of your customers. The better you plan the better you’ll be and that’s what your clients and any potential clients are looking for.

Steps to Your Project Plan

There are several important steps that you need to follow to make sure that your project plan is on the right track. We’re going to take a look at the ten most important steps and what goes into making sure your plan is on the right track. That way, you can make sure that your team is executing all of your projects properly and that your clients are going to be happy with the results. And ten steps to creating that plan doesn’t seem like much, right? You could be done in no time.

Let’s take a look at the steps to create an awesome project plan.

1. Know the Scope of Your Plan

The scope of your plan is exactly what you’re hoping to accomplish. What is the end goal that you need to reach? Chances are this is going to be defined for you by your boss, team leader, or client. But if you don’t know what you’re trying to get to you’re not going to get there. And your plan needs to be able to explain to everyone exactly what you’re hoping to achieve and how you’re going to get there. So, start with a goal. From there, you’ll be able to start creating each of the steps it takes to reach that goal.
When it comes to setting the scope of the plan and getting prepared to lay everything out you want to make sure you have a good idea of what’s happening in your project. You should know some of the details of what needs to be done and what each of the different aspects of the project will entail. But you’ll figure out even more of that as you continue to work through the next several steps of this process. We’re going to talk about everything it takes to make that plan a success, after all.

2. Do Your Research

Next up, you need to do your research. Don’t assume that you’re going to be told everything that you need to know right from the start. Don’t assume that your boss, team leader, or client even knows everything right from the start. But you need to make sure that you have all of the facts before you get too far into the planning process. That’s going to start with what we’re calling step two as well as step three. So, for now, focus on doing all of the research and finding out everything that you can from the information that’s already provided.
Keep in mind that a lot of the information you need will be in the paperwork and documentation that you’re given by whoever hands you this project. That doesn’t mean that person has read all the documentation, but the paperwork will help you create a little stronger foundation to build up the project and get you into step three (which we’ll get to in a moment). By scouring through the information you have you’re going to find things like the goals that need to be met, the objectives or expectations, and even who is going to be part of your team. Or at least, you should find some of this information.

3. Ask Hard Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. And don’t be afraid to dive in and ask really hard questions. Any information that you need to complete the project should be provided right from the start. If it’s not, make sure you ask anyone and everyone you have to until you find out what the answers are. After all, you’re not going to be able to complete the project unless you know everything there is to know about that project.
Ask about who is going to be responsible for each aspect of the project. Find out who needs to know about the different steps that you take. Ask your boss who needs to sign off on various parts of the process. Find out how you’re going to get feedback or how you’re going to deal with problems. Make sure you know when the project needs to be completed and who needs to receive it. Know when you can’t get in touch with someone or what kind of problems might come up throughout the process. You want to know as much as you can going into this project because it’s going to make you more successful overall.

4. Start With an Outline

Next, start creating an outline. You don’t want to dive too far into this project too quickly and that means not creating too detailed of a plan too early on. Instead, create an outline that will layout things like the ultimate deadline and the milestones along the way (if those have already been set by your client or a boss). You want to make sure that you have a framework that you can present to the team and continue to work with as you go along.
Your outline is going to lay out the process to get approval (from anyone who needs to grant it). It should also show what needs to be completed and when to achieve different milestones, deadlines, and more. You may also want to sketch out a little of the information you already know about resources and deliverables as well as anything that you are basing your decisions and layout on. This doesn’t need to be fully fleshed out, but you should include whatever information you are already certain of. You don’t need to get too specific about the order of tasks but you can layout a list of the tasks that you already know need to be done, for example.

5. Get the Team Involved

Next, start talking to the team who is going to be responsible for this project. Who all is on the team or has been assigned to help you out with any of the tasks? Work with them and the outline you’ve already created to come up with any additional tasks that need to be completed or to figure out resources and supplies you’ll need or how long each of the tasks will take. This is where you’re going to reach out to get even more information and ask even more of those hard questions.
This is also where you’re going to start fleshing out the outline that you’ve just created. Alongside each of your tasks, you can start to jot some notes about the timeline, resources, and who is responsible. You can add the rest of the tasks you’re told about as you go along. You’re also going to get more support and feedback for your ideas by going this route. Your team will be able to help you as you’re creating your outline and into the next step when you start drafting everything together.

6. Draft it Out

Next up, draft out your entire project. This is where you take the outline you created in step four along with the feedback and additional information that you got in step five and you use it to create a more detailed draft. Lay it all out no paper with each task in order and each assignment marked. Put in as much information as you can and make sure that you’re fully confident that the project you’ve created is accurate or at least as accurate as it can be without final input and support from your team.
This part of the process may take a while, but make sure that you’re doing everything you can to work it out. You want to make sure that the draft you have is laid out in a way that you can understand and that will help you focus better on what needs to be accomplished. If you have it all laid out it’s going to be easier to put into the project management system that you choose (which we’ll talk about in step seven). You’ll be able to see everything and since it’s already organized it’s a snap to set up.

7. Set it Up With Instagantt

This is where you’re going to use your project management tool. Instagantt allows you to put in all of the different tasks and subtasks that you want. You can create deadlines, milestones, dependencies, and a whole lot more. You can also assign each of your tasks to different people on your team. All of this is simple to achieve and then you can share that information with the rest of the team so that they can provide feedback, monitor their tasks, and keep track of everything that’s happening as far as getting to deadlines or even communicating with the rest of the team.
You also have the option to view all of your tasks through a Gantt chart setup or a Kanban chart setup. Either way, you’re going to have a simple method of tracking everything and staying on top of your project. Plus, you can link this system to several of your other systems and programs so you only have to put in information once to see it across each of your platforms. That’s going to make it a whole lot easier for you to stay on top of everything and keep everyone who needs to be informed, informed of what’s going on.

8. Finalize Your Design

This is where you’re going to finalize the layout and the design of your charts or boards. Whatever system you decided to use to organize your project and all of the tasks associated with it, you want to make sure that you go through it carefully and completely. You want to make sure that you double-check everything that you’ve put into the system and that it’s easy for anyone to read and understand what’s supposed to be happening in that spot. This is going to make it easier for you to achieve the outcome you want.
Now, note that this isn’t going to be the last time that you adjust your chart or your project plan. You’re going to still have a couple more steps to go. At this point, however, you should have a pretty good idea of what the plan is going to take and how you’re going to accomplish it. The plan that you look at on your Instagantt profile should look pretty close to what you expect and it should look like a finalized version of your plan. You should feel like you can achieve your goal based on that version of the plan.

9. Get Feedback from the Team

Once you think you’re done and you can move on to executing the plan it’s time to ask for feedback one more time. Now, that doesn’t mean this is the last time you’re going to ask your team to help you improve your plan. But this is the last time before you start working on the plan. So, reach out to the team and make sure that they have access to the Instagantt chart that you’ve created. Then, have them review it and see what they think about the overall scope, the milestones, and their tasks in it.
You want to know if they believe that this plan is realistic and if it’s representative of what they can do. If it is then great, you can move on to the next step. If it’s not, then you want to work with those team members, and whatever feedback they can provide you to figure out what needs to change. That way, you can get your project further along and make sure that it’s going to be a success. Asking for feedback is a crucial step in the process of getting your team on board and achieving your goals.

10. Don’t Stop Planning

The final step to your project plan is ongoing. You’re never going to be done. Your project plan may look great and everyone involved may think that it’s going to be an overwhelming success. You may have done all of the research, asked all of the questions, used all of the feedback, and created a plan that seems perfect to you, your team, your boss, the client, and everyone else that you show it to. But this is real life. And nothing is ever actually perfect.
What that means is that your plan is going to have to change. Whether it’s little things or big things, there are going to be some things in the project plan that just aren’t right or that get thrown off course in some way or another. Someone is going to get sick and not complete their task or one of the supplies that you expected to use is suddenly pulled off the market and you have to find a replacement. You might have an unexpected event that shuts down production for a time or a client who is unresponsive for some time. Whatever it is, there are going to be wrenches thrown into the plan. So always be prepared to make changes and continue improving along the way.

When it all comes down to it, you want to make sure that your project plan is written in a way that everyone on your team can understand and execute. Even more importantly, you want to make sure that it’s designed to get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible without sacrificing accuracy in the process. How do you do that? Well, you’re going to have to follow the steps we outlined above and make sure that you have Instagantt available to get you started. Project planning can be a snap if you have the right system to help you along.

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