IT Project Plan Template and it’s Benefits for Project Management
Project management has been around for a long time. Despite this fact, many feel the need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to how projects are managed. One area where this frequently occurs is the creation of IT project plans.
IT project plans have been floating around for dozens of years and they continue to get better and more prolific as time goes by. Nonetheless, many project managers feel as if their projects are so unique and different from anyone else’s that they need to start from scratch on their IT project plan. Not so. Before you go down the path of starting from scratch on your next IT project plan, consider the following benefits of using an IT project plan template. This template could be something you created yourself or borrowed from someone else who has gone through the effort of putting together a great project plan template.
IT Project Plan Templates Get Better Over Time
A huge benefit of using an IT Project Plan template is that it continues to evolve over time. You will find that there were things that needed to get done on the project that were not included in the initial project plan. Make a note of this and include it in the master template for the next time a similar project needs to be managed. Or, you may find that there are activities in the project plan that ended up not being executed or brought very little, if any, value to the project. Go ahead and take these activities out of the IT project plan template. Your goal is to make the project template as relevant, meaningful, and usable as possible.
A great source of how the IT project plan template can get updated is the lessons learned review at the end of each project. Take some time to review the project plan that was used and determine what can be added and what can be removed. If you include this activity as part of your lessons learned review for every project you do you will end up with a very precise and accurate IT project plan template for your next project.
Don’t for Important (or Small) Deliverables
There are so many moving parts on a project that you can inadvertently miss a deliverable. If you are starting from scratch every time you put an IT project plan together you are going to run this risk. Plus, there are small things that need to be done to a project that will make it run that much smoother. For example, receiving approval signatures from one phase to the next or having the client sign-off on the final scope document. These may seem like small activities that would be OK to leave off the IT Project Plan, but the negative downstream results can wreak havoc on an otherwise smooth running project. Having an IT Project Plan template in place that includes all the big (and small) deliverables of a project will prevent this from happening.
Project Plan Templates Save you Time
An IT Project Management Template is a guaranteed way to save time in the long run. It can’t be overemphasized how much time is saved from not having to start from scratch on every project. Take a look at one of the project plans from your most recent project. How many phases, activities, line items, dependencies, resources, and other project elements are incorporated in the plan? It’s undoubtedly a handful of phases, dozens of deliverables, scores of activities, and potentially hundreds of line items. Complex plans can take weeks and sometimes months to really flesh them out so they are relevant and manageable. A good IT project plan template can decimate the amount of time necessary to put a project plan together.
A Project Plan Template Enforces Consistency
Another reason IT project plan templates are so important is the consistency they enforce across the company. It may be that individual departments have their own project managers that run project for them. There’s no PMO in place and each project manager has the autonomy of doing whatever they want to do for their project and running it to their liking. One project manager may break his project down by deliverable. Another project manager may break theirs down by functional area. Another project manager may break theirs down by resource. There are infinite ways you can set up a project plan, but it becomes hard to manage across the entire company for a number of reasons:
- No consistent flow One department may have an extremely graceful way of getting their projects from beginning to end. Another department may get their projects done just by sheer will power and force as they jam it through the system.
- No consistent terminology One project manager may use one term a certain way and another may use it to mean something entirely different. This may be OK as long as the resources stay within the single department. But, the reality is that resources cross departments and work with different project managers all the time. Different and inconsistent terminology will introduce confusion into their work day and slow projects down from moving forward.
- No consistent reporting Finally, inconsistent reporting is another consequence of not using a good IT project plan template. Management would like a report from one project manager in one department as to the state of their project. They also ask for a report from another project manager in a second department. The reports end up looking entirely different and require a secret-decoding ring to understand.
On the other hand, if there is a standard IT project plan template in place that everyone follows then it becomes much easier to run projects across multiple departments. All project managers would follow the same process, use the same terminology, and report up to management with the same reports. A couple of things to consider once you’ve made the decision to implement templates in your organization.
Assign a person who will be responsible for being the “keeper of the templates”
This could be junior level project manager that makes sure the best practices are being captured and then implemented across all templates upon review with other project managers. They will be responsible for keeping them updated and having them available for anyone else that is getting ready to start a new project.
It is important is to keep good version control over these IT project plan templates.
It’s easy to get out of sync and fall back to using a template that’s not the latest and greatest. Each template should have a version control log that shows when the template was changed, the new version number, and what was changed on the template. This will show a path of how the template evolved and ensure everyone is on the same version.
If you haven’t done so already, embracing planning templates is a great solution for any company. You’ll save time, increase consistency, reduce confusion, and get more done! Looking for free project plan templates for your next IT project? Signup today for your free 30 day trial and you’ll soon be entering all of the tasks you need to implement your project. Then use the “Indent” feature to create a hierarchy of tasks, so that you can group related tasks together. Use the “link” feature to link multiple tasks together, so you can see the dependencies between tasks. Then share this template with others to get everyone on the same page!