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How to Develop a Work Project Plan
Developing a work plan helps to articulate the steps required for achieving a goal. These plans help simplify the process when things get too complicated. Many companies use work project plans, and these guidelines explain how to create them.
What Is a Work Project Plan?
A project plan is a document that represents and specifies the goals, objectives and tactics of a program or project, as well as its tasks, leading activities, timing, sequencing and who will be responsible for everything. It sets demonstrable objectives with measurable objectives that are possible to be transformed into concrete actions. When team collaboration is effective, a work plan project document can act as a tool for guidance to help companies realize outcomes. Many companies use project plan templates to help them develop their work project plans from beginning to end.
Create an Outline
The work project plan should consist of an outline that’s broken down into goals, strategies, objectives and tactics. In this way, you’ll be able to better determine the overall outcome for success. Your goal should state the mission of your project. When outlining your strategies, you should focus on your goals and what you need to achieve them. Your objectives tie into your strategies in the form of deliverables. For example, if you want to make your business more profitable, an objective could be reducing marketing costs, and the strategy for that could be achieving a reduction of 25 percent per acquisition. The tactics you add to your outline are the checklists you’re using to achieve your goals, strategies and objectives.
Define Your Goals
Create a clear and concise definition of your goals so that you can develop your work plan project around specific goals. Defining your goals as narrowly as possible will help you develop an understanding of your overall needs. In doing so, you’ll ensure that deadlines will met, the project will stay on track, there will be enough resources available and the task will be completed. You’ll see more success if you keep your work project plan organized, plan it around your team and make sure it’s not designed solely around the project’s process.
Measure Your Team’s Progress
When you’re working on developing a work project plan, you need to remember to measure your team’s progress. You’ll be responsible for looking at the work they’ve accomplished, as well as what they still need to do to reach their goals. However, it is important to note that looking at too much information will muddle the results. So don’t focus too much on the results. Instead, focus on the project itself.
Planning Activities and Resource Management
Utilize planning worksheets to develop step-by-step activities and tasks for your team to follow throughout the project. Use an outline or template to create these worksheets, like a health and safety plan template or a campaign plan template. Assign specific activities to team members to help meet the objectives of your work project plan. Also look at how you’re managing your resources. For example, if you’re working on a project that calls for 25 people and your team currently consists of 15, you’ll need to recruit temporary workers (perhaps using a recruitment plan template) or be strategic with how the work is assigned to each member of your team.
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What Is Implementation Planning? And How to Write Your Plan
Discover what goes into implementation planning, why it’s important in project management, and how to build your implementation plan.
What is implementation planning?
Implementation planning is a process in project management that entails creating step-by-step instructions for completing projects. The purpose of this process is to inform members of a project team of the concrete actions and individual tasks required to achieve the team’s strategic goals.
What is an implementation plan?
An implementation plan is a written document that outlines a team’s steps to accomplish a goal or project. Having such a document enables team members and key stakeholders to understand all aspects of a project before executing it.
Although you may find implementation plans that differ from one project to another, there are several components you may find in common, including:
Resources and tools list
Outline of deliverables
Team roles and responsibilities
Implementation plan metrics
Benefits of creating an implementation plan
Creating an implementation plan for your project means you have an actionable roadmap for the whole project and a mechanism to hold team members and stakeholders accountable, simplify communication, and offer transparency.
Strategic plan vs. implementation plan
Implementation plans are sometimes referred to as strategic plans, but there is an important distinction between these two terms. A strategic plan details the strategies you’ll use to complete a project, while an implementation plan details the step-by-step actions you’ll take to complete a project.
How to write an implementation plan
Before you start writing your implementation plan, there are several things you’ll need. Be sure to get an official clearance from decision makers and stakeholders for the project to be launched. In addition, the project team will need to have conducted thorough research into the key resources the team will need and the time tasks will take to complete.
With this preparation behind you, follow the steps below to build your implementation plan.
1. Define your project goals.
A project goal refers to what a project team will accomplish beyond the tangible outcomes or deliverables. Think of it as what a project outcome or deliverable can enable for others. For example, your project goal might be to develop software that makes it easier for business owners to reach customers.
2. Define outcomes and deliverables.
Along with goals, you will need to define the project’s outcomes and deliverables. These are the expected results of every step you take to complete a project or the final product. Examples of outcomes and deliverables include the construction of a building, the development of a software program, and the launch of a new product line.
You’ll also need to define KPIs (key performance indicators) that will determine how your project is measured and monitored at every phase.
3. Assess potential risks.
Every project carries with it some risks that may affect the outcome. It’s important to know project risks before you launch the project and implement the steps to complete it. Risks might include unforeseen delays, costs, or even changes in the industry the project affects.
4. Set tasks and due dates.
Work with team members to determine the specific tasks and subtasks that must be completed for the project to come to fruition. Start by breaking the project goal, outcomes, and deliverables into actionable steps and lining them up in the order in which they need to be completed. Then, determine the actual deadlines for each step.
5. Assign team member roles and responsibilities.
Once you have established the individual project tasks and deadlines, the next step is to work with your team to assign member roles and responsibilities. Take team members’ strengths and experience into account when assigning tasks, as well as their availability during the project’s duration.
6. Assemble your implementation plan.
Now that you have all the components of your implementation plan, the final step is to assemble them into a coherent document that includes the following:
Resources and tools list
Outline of deliverables
Team roles and responsibilities
Implementation planning key takeaways
Remember: The implementation planning process can enable team members to understand all aspects of a project before executing it, as well as simplify communication among team members and stakeholders, and offer transparency.
Follow these best practices to get the most out of your project management process:
Make use of tools and software for project management, such as Gantt charts and PERT charts .
When in doubt about a particular aspect of your project, conduct additional research and consult subject matter experts.
Centralize communication using your project management tool so that everyone receives project updates and announcements at the same time.
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Implementation plan: What to include and 5 essential steps
A project plan or project implementation plan is a key strategic document that keeps teams on track throughout a project, indicating how a project is expected to run along with who’s responsible for what. It’s an extremely valuable planning tool — one that can be the difference between project success and project failure.
It’s also a fairly comprehensive document, and if you’ve never built one before, the concept can feel a bit overwhelming.
In today’s post, we’ll give you a five-step plan for building and implementing a project plan. First, we’ll walk you through what a project implementation plan looks like, why you should create one for every project, and what each plan should include.
What is a project implementation plan?
Why every project should start with an implementation plan, essential components of a great implementation plan, 5 easy steps to create your project implementation plan, 1) define your goals and milestones, 2) conduct research by interviewing, surveying, or observing, 3) brainstorm and map out potential risks, 4) assign and delegate essential tasks, 5) finalize your plan and allocate resources, create an effective project plan with teamwork.com.
A project implementation plan is a document that defines how a project will be executed. Implementation plans explain the strategic goals and steps involved in a project, define the project completion timeline, and list the resources (including team members) necessary for a successful project.
Project implementation plans are sometimes called “strategic plans” because they lay out the strategy proposed for a project. But we like the longer name because it conveys more than just strategy: It suggests a process going into action, and it answers the question of how a team will arrive at a goal.
Using a project plan is one of several project management best practices . It’s also different from a work plan: A work plan deals with tasks, timeframes, and individual work packages, while a project implementation plan deals with a much wider range of information.
Check out our project management guide about creating baseline project plans .
Why start each project with an implementation plan? Simple: because you want the project to succeed, and you want an objective way to know if it succeeded.
Starting each project with an implementation plan accomplishes quite a bit for most teams and businesses, primarily because it creates a shared sense of vision and understanding and points toward a clearly defined goal.
Most teams realize these four benefits (and plenty more) when they create a thorough and functional project implementation plan:
It creates an actionable roadmap of the scope of work
Projects run the gamut from extremely simple to lengthy and complex. The more complicated and interconnected the project, the greater the chance for confusion.
Whatever the level of complexity, chaos ensues when team members aren’t clear on what to do, when to do it, or why they’re doing it.
A project implementation plan is the antidote to this kind of chaos because it shows all parties what the path forward looks like (the roadmap) — as well as what is and isn’t on that path (the scope of work).
It makes goals and communication transparent to all stakeholders
When all parties understand the goals of a project, you lessen confusion around those goals. There may still be disagreement on how to best achieve a goal, but there’s no confusion about what the team is aiming to accomplish.
Also, a central, accessible document containing all relevant aspects of a project creates a single source of truth for teams, managers, executives, vendors, customers, and more. When anyone and everyone associated with a project is working from the same playbook, teams and businesses enjoy clearer, more focused, and more transparent communication.
It holds your team members accountable
Around 70% of businesses report having at least one failed project in the last year. We’ve all been part of a project where no one seemed accountable for problems or even total project failure. Of course, no one likes taking the blame and finding a scapegoat isn’t always terribly productive. Still, if you have a team member or business unit that’s consistently failing to deliver, you want to know.
A strong project implementation plan makes clear who’s responsible for what within a project. It gives project managers and team leads a stronger understanding of task accountability, helping to hold team members accountable for their work.
And most of the time, better accountability comes with better results!
It helps your entire team stay on the same page
You’ll never completely eliminate scope creep (something that occurred within more than a third of projects in 2021), nor should you. Parameters for various deliverables or even the entire project can and do change over the course of a project, and sometimes a change in scope is clearly the right decision.
But not all scope creep is good. Especially with longer or more complex projects, it’s common for team members to lose focus on the top-level goals — not to mention the specific steps needed to reach those goals.
This loss of focus is preventable, though, as is the scope creep that grows from it. A project implementation plan keeps the big-picture goals and the steps required to meet them in focus. When a change in scope is warranted, it should be documented within or alongside the implementation plan.
Most well-designed implementation plans contain these essential items, though it’s important to note that implementation plans vary widely, just like the projects they’re attached to.
These elements comprise a solid foundation for your next implementation plan. Start with these, but feel free to add additional elements that make sense for your industry or project type.
The scope statement outlines the scope of the project — essentially, what work will be performed in the project (and what work would be considered out of scope).
Project milestones, goals, and key objectives
Project goals are the high-level outcomes the project aims to achieve. Key objectives are the steps or intermediate outcomes that will occur throughout the project in support of the project goals. Project milestones are the points of measurement along the way, usually significant or tangible in some way.
Examples of milestones across a few industry contexts include wireframe completed, beta launch, copy drafted, or the completion of a phase, segment, or function that’s part of the whole.
Detailed resource plan
A project’s resource plan indicates which human resources are involved along with their time or workload commitment. You should also include materials and equipment (typically, only what’s beyond the standard stuff every employee already has) needed for successful project completion.
Estimated implementation timeline
A key element of any implementation plan is a concrete timeframe for the project (and its implementation). These dates are rarely perfect at the outset of a project, but they provide a goal to work toward and give stakeholders some context for what they’re signing off on.
Most project teams use project management software for creating project timelines , often in the form of a Gantt chart.
Implementation plan milestones
Your implementation plan may benefit from its own set of internal milestones, separate from the broader project milestones. These internal milestones are more useful on highly complex projects with multiple levels of approval and numerous departments supplying information.
Implementation plan milestones could look like these: initial stakeholder information gathered, plan drafted, plan discussed and feedback incorporated, final sign-off by all stakeholders.
Implementation plan KPIs & metrics
Your key performance indicators (KPIs) or other metrics reveal how well the team is accomplishing the implementation plan. Establish measurable indicators, state what they are within the plan itself, and then track them over the course of the project.
Here, a quality project management tool is essential if you want to succeed with measurements that span the length of a project.
Now you know what needs to go into your project implementation plan — but how do you actually create one and get the implementation process started?
We know this process can seem daunting at first, and it does take some upfront work. But the process doesn’t have to be as complicated as it seems. Follow these five easy steps to create an implementation plan that helps keep your project and your team on track. Then, as future projects arise, use these questions as a template of sorts to create a quality implementation and management plan for each one.
Teamwork.com’s project management template is an easy way to start building your plan today.
Before you can create a plan for how to get where you want to go, you need to spend some time deciding where you want to go .
So, before you start building out any other part of a project implementation or action plan, start by devoting time to the what and the where:
What are you trying to accomplish? (Project-level goals)
What needs to happen to reach those goals? (Project objectives)
What are the intermediate steps or milestones that demonstrate progress along the path toward the project’s goals? (Project milestones)
Once you establish goals, objectives, and milestones — and achieve buy-in from key stakeholders and project team members on those goals and milestones — you’re ready to proceed to step two.
Research is one key element of a successful implementation plan. In many project contexts, this research looks like interviewing or surveying various stakeholders, subject matter experts, department leaders, and so on — gathering the information necessary to build your implementation strategy.
Sometimes observation is a key strategy as well: Watching what another team (or vendor or external organization) does or has done on a similar project can provide valuable insights.
Every project has inherent potential risks. Some of these can be foreseen, while others seem to come out of nowhere. Take the pandemic as one example of the latter category. Yes, businesses should have business continuity and disaster management policies in place, but few — if any — businesses had a concrete plan of action lined up for a global pandemic.
So, there are risks you can’t plan for and could never predict. But there are plenty of risks that, with a little bit of brainstorming and planning, should be easy to discover. These are the ones you need to target as you perform a risk assessment.
Map out the known risks, along with potential impacts and mitigation strategies for each one. Some risks are entirely avoidable so long as you take appropriate risk management actions. Others may not be completely preventable, but having a plan in place will greatly reduce their impact.
Every good implementation plan will include a work plan or action plan that lists out the tasks within the project to a certain level of granularity. These tasks eventually get plugged into a calendar or schedule of some sort, often within project planning software suites like Teamwork.com .
No matter what method or platform you’re using, at this stage, you need to map out or schedule these tasks. As a part of this step, make sure you assign and delegate tasks to specific resources (or, at minimum, specific departments or work groups).
This step is key to successful project execution, as it assigns responsibility and accountability for every task included in the plan, bringing clarity to who’s doing what and when.
Next up is allocating resources. You already assigned tasks to people (or departments) in the previous step, so what do we mean here that’s any different?
Put simply, there’s a difference between putting on paper that “Sam will handle task 35” (assigning tasks) and actually making sure that Sam has the capacity to handle task 35 (allocating resources).
In step 4, all you really did was determine who’s doing what. Now, during resource allocation, you make sure that your assignment plan is achievable. Resource allocation means assigning tasks to resources that are actually available. In other words, you need to make sure task 35 doesn’t land on Sam’s desk the same day as 10 other tasks.
Last, once everything else about your plan has been crafted, vetted, and approved, it’s time to finalize the plan. Usually, this involves sending out the completed plan for a final round of approvals.
Once approved, the project implementation plan becomes a single source of truth for the team and other stakeholders. So make sure to store the plan in a central, accessible location. ( Teamwork.com is a great place for this , if you ask us!)
Creating a project implementation plan requires careful planning and attention to innumerable details, but the results are worth the investment. Increase your project success rate, productivity, morale, and more by keeping teams focused on the right shared outcomes.
We’ve hinted at this a few times already, but project implementation planning (along with all the other documents and documentation you need to prepare to get a project off the ground) is infinitely easier when you use the right tools.
Teamwork.com is a powerful project management suite that gives you a central location to store project data, robust yet flexible templates, and visibility into current and past project data. Teamwork.com can cut down on the detail work and keep your information organized in a more user-friendly way, empowering you and your teams to achieve more and stay on track.
Ready to step up to a better project management experience? Sign up for Teamwork.com today and get started for free!
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What Is an Implementation Plan? (Template & Example Included)
What Is Project Implementation?
Project implementation, or project execution, is the process of completing tasks to deliver a project successfully. These tasks are initially described in the project plan, a comprehensive document that covers all areas of project management. However, a secondary action plan, known as an implementation plan, should be created to help team members and project managers better execute and track the project.
What Is an Implementation Plan?
An implementation plan is a document that describes the necessary steps for the execution of a project. Implementation plans break down the project implementation process by defining the timeline, the teams and the resources that’ll be needed.
Project management software like ProjectManager greatly simplifies the implementation planning process. Schedule and execute your implementation plan with our robust online Gantt charts. Assign work, link dependencies and track progress in real time with one chart. Plus, if your team wants to work with something other than a Gantt chart, our software offers four other project views for managing work: task lists, kanban boards, calendars and sheets. Try it for free today.
Implementation Plan vs. Project Plan
A project plan is a comprehensive project management document that should describe everything about your project including the project schedule, project budget, scope management plan, risk management plan, stakeholder management plan and other important components. An implementation plan, on the other hand, is a simplified version of your project plan that includes only the information that’s needed by the team members who will actually participate in the project execution phase, such as their roles, responsibilities, daily tasks and deadlines.
Key Steps In Project Implementation
Here are some of the key steps that you must oversee as a project manager during the project execution phase . Your project implementation plan should have the necessary components to help you achieve these steps.
1. Communicate Goals and Objectives
Once you’ve outlined the project goals and objectives, the next step is to ensure that the team understands them. For the project to succeed, there must be buy-in from the project team. A meeting is a good way to communicate this, though having project documents that they can refer to is also viable.
2. Define Team Roles and Responsibilities
The project manager will define the roles and responsibilities and communicate them to the project team . They should understand what they’re expected to do and who they can reach out to with questions about their work, all of which leads to a smooth-running project.
3. Establish the Success Criteria for Deliverables
The project deliverables need to meet quality standards, and to do this there must be a success criteria for handing off these deliverables. You want to have something in place to determine if the deliverable is what it’s supposed to be. The measurement is called a success criteria and it applies to any deliverable, whether it’s tangible or intangible.
4. Schedule Work on a Project Timeline
All projects require a schedule , which at its most basic is a start date and an end date for your project. In between those two points, you’ll have phases and tasks, which also have start and finish dates. To manage these deadlines, use a project timeline to visually map everything in one place.
5. Monitor Cost, Time and Performance
To make sure that you’re keeping to your schedule and budget, you need to keep a close eye on the project during the execution phase. Some of the things you should monitor are your costs, time and performance. Costs refer to your budget , time refers to your schedule and performance impacts both as well as quality. By keeping track of these metrics, you can make adjustments to stay on schedule and on budget.
6. Report to Project Stakeholders
While the project manager is monitoring the project, the stakeholders, who have a vested interest in the project, are also going to want to stay informed. To manage their expectations and show them that the project is hitting all its milestones, you’ll want to have project reports , such as project status reports. These can then be presented to the stakeholders regularly to keep them updated.
What Are the Key Components of an Implementation Plan?
There’s no standard one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to creating your implementation plan. However, we’ve created an implementation plan outline for your projects. Here are its components.
- Project goals & objectives: The project goal is the ultimate goal of your project, while the objectives are the key milestones or achievements that must be completed to reach it.
- Success criteria: The project manager must reach an agreement with stakeholders to define the project success criteria .
- Project deliverables: Project deliverables are tangible or intangible outputs from project tasks.
- Scope statement: The scope statement briefly describes your project scope, which can be simply defined as the project work to be performed.
- Resource plan: Create a simple resource plan that outlines the human resources, equipment and materials needed for your project.
- Risk analysis: Use a risk assessment tool like a SWOT analysis or risk register. There are different tools with different levels of detail for your risk analysis.
- Implementation timeline: Any implementation plan needs a clear project timeline to be executed properly. You should use an advanced tool such as a Gantt chart to create one.
- Implementation plan milestones: You need to identify key milestones of your implementation plan so that you can easily keep track of its progress.
- Team roles & responsibilities: The implementation plan won’t execute itself. You’ll need to assign roles and responsibilities to your team members.
- Implementation plan metrics: You’ll need KPIs, OKRs or any other performance metrics you can use to control the progress of your implementation plan.
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Implementation Plan Template
Use this free Implementation Plan Template for Excel to manage your projects better.
How to Write an Implementation Plan
Follow these steps to create an implementation plan for your project or business. You can also consider using project management software like ProjectManager to help you with the implementation process.
1. Review Your Project Plan
Start by identifying what you’ll need for the execution of your implementation plan:
- What teams need to be involved to achieve the strategic goals?
- How long will it take to make the strategic goals happen?
- What should be allocated from a budget and resources standpoint?
By interviewing stakeholders, key partners, customers and team members, you can determine the most crucial assignments needed and prioritize them accordingly. It’s also at this stage that you should list out all the goals you’re looking to achieve to cross-embed the strategic plan with the implementation plan. Everything must tie back to that strategic plan in order for your implementation plan to work.
2. Map Out Assumptions and Risks
This acts as an extension to the research and discovery phase, but it’s also important to point out assumptions and risks in your implementation plan. This can include anything that might affect the execution of the implementation plan, such as paid time off or holidays you didn’t factor into your timeline , budget constraints, losing personnel, market instability or even tools that require repair before your implementation can commence.
3. Identify Task Owners
Each activity in your implementation plan must include a primary task owner or champion to be the owner of it. For tasks to be properly assigned, this champion will need to do the delegating. This means that they ensure that all systems are working as per usual, keep track of their teams’ productivity and more. Project planning software is practically essential for this aspect.
To learn more about how project planning software can help you map out every step of your project implementation plan, including the designation of tasks, watch the short video below. With the help of software, it’s easy to craft a detailed plan that everyone can reference, so everyone gets their work done on time.
4. Define Project Tasks
Next, you need to finalize all the little activities to round out your plan. Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- What are the steps or milestones that make up the plan?
- What are the activities needed to complete each step?
- Who needs to be involved in the plan?
- What are the stakeholder requirements?
- What resources should be allocated?
- Are there any milestones we need to list?
- What are the risks involved based on the assumptions we notated?
- Are there any dependencies for any of the tasks?
Once all activities are outlined, all resources are listed and all stakeholders have approved (but no actions have been taken just yet), you can consider your implementation plan complete and ready for execution.
Implementation Plan Example
Implementation plans are used by companies across industries on a daily basis. Here’s a simple project implementation plan example we’ve created using ProjectManager to help you better understand how implementation plans work. Let’s imagine a software development team is creating a new app.
- Project goal: Create a new app
- Project objectives: All the project deliverables that must be achieved to reach that ultimate goal.
- Success criteria: The development team needs to communicate with the project stakeholders and agree upon success criteria.
- Scope statement: Here’s where the development team will document all the work needed to develop the app. That work is broken down into tasks, which are known as user stories in product and software development. Here, the team must also note all the exceptions, which means everything that won’t be done.
- Resource plan: In this case, the resources are all the professionals involved in the software development process, as well as any equipment needed by the team.
- Risk analysis: Using a risk register, the product manager can list all the potential risks that might affect the app development process.
- Team roles & responsibilities: Similarly, we used a kanban board to assign implementation plan tasks to team members according to their roles and responsibilities.
Benefits of an Implementation Plan for the Project Implementation Process
The implementation plan plays a large role in the success of your overall strategic plan. But more than that, communicating both your strategic plan and the implementation of it therein to your team members helps them feel as if they have a sense of ownership within the company’s long-term direction.
An implementation plan that’s well communicated also helps to increase cooperation across all teams through all the steps of the implementation process. It’s easy to work in a silo—you know exactly what your daily process is and how to execute it. But reaching across the aisle and making sure your team is aligned on the project goals that you’re also trying to meet? That’s another story entirely. With an implementation plan in place, it helps to bridge the divide just a little easier.
Additionally, with an implementation plan that’s thoroughly researched and well-defined, you can ensure buy-in from stakeholders and key partners involved in the project. And no matter which milestone you’re at, you can continue to get that buy-in time and time again with proper documentation.
At the end of the day, the biggest benefit of an implementation plan is that it makes it that much easier for the company to meet its long-term goals. When everyone across all teams knows exactly what you want to accomplish and how to do it, it’s easy to make it happen.
Implementation Plan FAQ
There’s more to know about implementation plans. It’s a big subject and we’ve tried to be thorough as possible, but if you have any further questions, hopefully we’ve answered them below.
What Is the Difference Between an Action Plan and an Implementation Plan?
The main difference between an action plan and an implementation plan is that an action plan focuses exclusively on describing work packages and tasks, while the implementation plan is more holistic and addresses other variables that affect the implementation process such as risks, resources and team roles & responsibilities.
What Is an Implementation Plan in Business?
A business implementation plan is the set of steps that a company follows to execute its strategic plan and achieve all the business goals that are described there.
What Is an Implementation Plan in Project Management?
Implementation plans have many uses in project management. They’re a planning tool that allows project managers to control smaller projects within their project plan. For example, they might need an implementation plan to execute risk mitigation actions, change requests or produce specific deliverables.
How to Make an Implementation Plan With ProjectManager
Creating and managing an implementation plan is a huge responsibility and one that requires diligence, patience and great organizational skills.
When it comes to a project implementation plan, there are many ways to make one that’s best suited for your team. With ProjectManager , you get access to both agile and waterfall planning so you can plan in sprints for large or small projects, track issues and collaborate easily. Try kanban boards for managing backlogs or for making workflows in departments.
Switching up the activities after a milestone meeting with stakeholders? You can easily update your implementation plan with our software features. Add new tasks, set due dates, and track how far along your team is on their current activities.
Implementation plans are the backbone of an organization’s strategic overall plan. With ProjectManager, give your organization the project management software they need to gain insight into all resources needed, view activities on their lists and collaborate with ease. Sign up for our free 30-day trial today.
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- What is an implementation plan? 6 steps ...
What is an implementation plan? 6 steps to create one
An implementation plan—also known as a strategic plan—outlines the steps your team should take when accomplishing a shared goal or objective. This plan combines strategy, process, and action and will include all parts of the project from scope to budget and beyond. In this guide, we’ll discuss what an implementation plan is and how to create one.
Projects require planning to be successful. Would you build a house without a blueprint? Probably not, because nailing pieces of wood together without a plan could lead to disaster. The same concept is true in the corporate world. An implementation plan functions as the blueprint for any shared objective. Your plan should include everything from the project strategy, to the budget, to the list of people working on the project.
In this guide, we’ll discuss what an implementation plan is and how to create one. These steps can help you and your team prepare for projects both big and small.
What is the purpose of an implementation plan?
The purpose of an implementation plan is to ensure that your team can answer the who, what, when, how, and why of a project before moving into the execution phase. In simple terms, it's the action plan that turns your strategy into specific tasks.
A good way to know whether your implementation plan is effective is to hand it to someone outside of your team and see if they can understand the project in its entirety. Your implementation plan should leave no questions unanswered.
How to create an implementation plan in 6 steps
If you want your implementation plan to be comprehensive and beneficial to your project team, you’ll need to follow specific steps and include the right components. Use the following steps when creating your plan to reduce the risk of gaps in your strategy.
1. Define goals
The first step in the implementation process is defining your goals . Determine what you hope to accomplish when your project is complete, like whether you hope to win over a new marketing client or revamp your internal content strategy. Starting with your project objectives in mind can help flesh out your project plan.
Tips to consider:
Ask questions: When defining your goals, you and your team may want to ask questions about your project such as, “What are we trying to achieve with this project? What deliverables do we hope to produce? Who are the stakeholders we plan to share our project deliverables with?”
Brainstorm risk scenarios: Although you’ll perform a more in-depth risk assessment later on in your implementation plan, brainstorming potential risk scenarios early on gives you a more realistic idea of what you’re able to achieve.
2. Conduct research
Once you have a broad idea of the project goals you want to achieve, you can hone in on these goals by conducting research such as interviews, surveys, focus groups, or observations. Your research should come from key experts in your field. These experts may be team members or external stakeholders. Your research outcomes should include a list of what your project timeline, budget, and personnel may look like.
Collaborate using shared tools: Collaboration is easier when you have the right communication tools in place to do so. Use a team collaboration tool to share your project goals and get feedback from others, regardless of their location.
3. Map out risks
You brainstormed risk scenarios in step one of your implementation strategy, and in step three, you’ll map out all the potential risks you may face in your project. Risks can include anything from paid time off and holidays to budget constraints and loss of personnel.
A great way to map out your risks is by using a risk register. This tool will help you prioritize project risks and prepare for them accordingly. You can also conduct a SWOT analysis , which will identify any weaknesses or threats affecting your project.
Be flexible and proactive: Mapping out risks is more than just a preparation strategy. If you identify preventable risks during this stage of the implementation plan, you can take action to prevent those risks. This may mean adjusting your initial project goals.
4. Schedule milestones
Scheduling your project milestones is an important step in the planning process because these checkpoints help you track your progress during execution. Milestones serve as metrics—they are a way to measure how far you’ve come in your project and how far you have left to go.
To visualize project milestones and keep your entire team on track, use a Gantt chart . With a Gantt chart, you can visually lay out your implementation schedule and show how long you think each task will take.
Add wiggle room: Things don’t always go as planned, even if you do everything in your power to a schedule. By adding wiggle room to your schedule, you can ensure your project stays on track instead of keeping tight milestones and failing to meet them.
Clarify dependencies: Dependencies are tasks that rely on the completion of other tasks. Clarifying your dependencies makes it easier to keep the project on track and hit your milestones.
5. Assign responsibilities and tasks
Every action plan must include a list of responsibilities with team members assigned to each one. By assigning responsibilities, you can assess the performance of each team member and monitor progress more closely. Using a RACI chart can be an effective project management tool for clarifying roles and responsibilities.
Assigning responsibilities is different from assigning individual tasks. One team member may be responsible for overseeing the project review, while you may assign three other team members to handle the delivery and communication of the project to various teams for review. When you assign responsibilities and tasks, be sure to make your expectations clear.
Communication is key: When you assign roles, responsibilities, or tasks, it’s best to communicate why you’re choosing one team member over another. Instead of letting team members question why they have specific roles, you can use this step in the planning process as an opportunity to highlight team member strengths.
Track responsibilities in a shared tool: Having a shared tool, like project management software, can give team members clarity on who's doing what and by when.
6. Allocate resources
Resource allocation is one of the best ways to reduce risk. If you can plan out what resources you need for your project and ensure those resources will be available, you’ll avoid the risk of running out of resources mid-project. If you notice that you don’t have enough resources in this step of the implementation process, you can adjust your project accordingly before it kicks off.
Resources may include money, personnel, software, equipment, and other physical or technical materials. Time can also be a resource because the team members you need to complete the project may be working on other projects.
Tips to consider: Ask yourself the following questions when identifying available resources for your project:
What is the project’s priority level?
Who is available to work on this project?
What budget or tools are available?
What additional resources do we need?
Who needs to approve the resource allocation plan?
Following these steps as you create your implementation plan will increase the likelihood of hitting your project goals. Having a checklist of the items to include in your implementation plan can also lead to successful implementation.
What to include in an implementation plan
Knowing how to create your implementation plan is crucial, but you also need to know what to include in your plan. This checklist includes the six most important items you’ll want to consider if you want to move forward with a successful project.
You’ll outline your project objectives in step one of the implementation process. Set your goals and decide what metrics your team will use to measure to monitor progress. By clearly identifying your project objectives, you and your team can measure progress and performance as you move forward.
2. Scope statement
You’ll set the scope of your project in step two when conducting research. Your project scope statement should outline the boundaries you’ve set for your project and broadly define what goals, deadlines, and project outcomes you’ll be working toward. Defining your project scope in the implementation plan can help prevent scope creep when you’re farther along in the project.
3. Outline of deliverables
Deliverables are the tangible goals of your project. Outlining the deliverables you hope to create can serve as a resource when managing time frames, delegating tasks, and allocating resources.
4. Task due dates
Although the project timeline may change as your project progresses, it’s important to clarify your expected due dates during implementation planning. When you estimate task due dates, you can schedule milestones around these due dates and plan for project completion. You will commonly see Gantt charts used for strategic planning and implementation planning. This is because Gantt charts display information in a follows a linear path, similar to a timeline.
5. Risk assessment
You’ll conduct your risk assessment in step three of the implementation process. Whether you use a risk register , SWOT analysis , or contingency plan to identify risks , be sure to include these documents in your plan. That way, others involved in the project can look through your findings and potentially help you prevent these risks.
6. Team member roles and responsibilities
You assigned roles and responsibilities to team members in step five of your plan, and keeping a detailed record of what these are can hold everyone accountable. Whether you use a RACI chart or another tool to clarify team member roles, there should be a place in your plan for everyone to refer to in case questions arise.
Your implementation plan will likely be unique to the project you're working on, so it may include other components not listed above. However, you can use the six items above as your guide so you know your plan is comprehensive.
Many aspects of project implementation overlap with strategic planning. As a project manager , working on the project implementation plan while you are also working on the strategic plan can help minimize the total time spent on planning.
Another way to save time during the planning process is to house all of your plans in a work management platform. When your project team is ready to start the implementation process, everything is in one convenient place.
Benefits of having an implementation plan
There are many benefits to implementation planning, with the top benefit being an increased chance of project success. Implementing a project plan creates a roadmap for executing your project so you can prevent issues from occurring.
Other benefits to having an implementation plan include:
Improved communication between team members and key stakeholders
Better organization and management of resources
Increased accountability for everyone involved in the project
More structured project timeline and daily workflow
Easier collaboration between team members
Going straight into the execution phase without an implementation plan may feel like walking on stage to give a speech without knowing what you’re going to say. Preparation is key for top-notch performance.
Simplify implementation planning
Knowing the steps for implementation planning is the foundation of project management. A well-planned project leads to a successful project.
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The Ultimate Guide to Implementation Plans
Implementation plans provide step-by-step instructions for everything from digital marketing campaigns to ending hunger in rural communities . They’re used to transform abstract concepts within strategy plans into real-world action. The only downside is that implementation plans can be challenging to pull off. Some industries see as much as a 75% failure rate in plan execution.
The good news is you can succeed where others have failed by creating a successful implementation plan with the tips and strategies outlined in this guide.
Keep reading to discover must-have components for implementation plans, a thorough step-by-step planning method, and advice on how to avoid common pitfalls.
What is an implementation plan?
A project implementation plan (also called a strategic plan) is a combination of strategy, process, and action. It outlines the steps a team will use to achieve a shared objective. An implementation plan covers all aspects of a project , including the budget, timeline, and personnel.
The perfect project plan includes:
- Objectives, requirements
- Scope assessment
- An outline of deliverables
- Task due dates
- Risk assessment
- Stakeholder, team, and process management plans
- Team member roles and responsibilities
- Resource management
- Communication tools
Roadmap planning breaks down big-picture goals into measurable project phases, tasks, and subtasks. Each category is clearly defined with its own deadlines and resource allocations. Tasks and subtasks are assigned to team members who will complete and approve each one.
In other words, if the goal is the "what," the implementation plan is the "how."
An implementation plan is often presented as a written document or planned in a project management solution . The latter is a better fit for this particular roadmap because, as you can probably tell, implementation plans are complex and comprehensive. Implementation plans should all contain solutions for:
- Tasks and subtasks
- Any additional resources
It’s also important to note that having a flexible implementation plan is key for dealing with changes that come up once the project is live.
What are the benefits of implementation planning?
The benefits of implementation planning range from organizational to relationship-building to increased profitability. A solid implementation plan:
- Creates an actionable roadmap from project inception to completion
- Makes communication simple and crystal clear
- Improves employee retention in the long-term
- Organizes all resources in one manageable place
- Helps businesses be proactive instead of reactive
- Offers transparency to clients and collaborators
- Builds trust among stakeholders
- Holds everyone accountable
- Outlines a daily and weekly workflow the whole team can follow
- Improves the likelihood of buy-in
- Makes collaboration more fluid and synergistic
- Helps businesses commit to long-term goals
- Gets everyone’s thoughts out of their heads and into one accessible place
When do you begin implementation planning?
Because it’s so involved, it’s important that you don’t begin implementation planning too early or too late.
Why? The process of creating an implementation plan is time-consuming. Most of the tasks involved require you to wait on communication or approvals from multiple stakeholders. The process also requires lots of research, goal-setting, gathering or defining resources, and getting team availability together.
Avoid planning too early by waiting until the project is officially greenlit. The definition of greenlit means something different to every agency. However, most would agree that a signed contract and successful deposit payment are good markers.
After those client onboarding tasks are complete, you can begin implementation planning. Remember, the project can’t begin without these plans, so have a system in place to kick off and support implementation planning ahead of time.
What is an implementation timeline?
An implementation timeline is a visual representation of all project-related due dates. That includes:
- The final project due date
- Dates your team needs to complete each phase by
- Due dates for individual tasks and subtasks
These dates aren’t set in stone yet. However, accurately forecasting effort and mini-milestones now will make the implementation phase that much easier.
Implementation timelines are often represented by visual Gantt charts . A Gantt chart uses bars to track the progress of each phase, task, and subtask all at once. Wrike users can add task dependencies, which trigger automatic chart updates and notifications to team members in charge of the next steps.
Gantt charts also help project managers identify possible roadblocks. With every single step laid out, it’s easy to see where resources are stretched too thin and whether or not milestones are realistic.
How do you make an implementation plan?
Follow these steps to create a successful implementation plan:
- Choose an implementation planning tool Project management solutions like Wrike can help teams share information, start and complete approvals, and set up timelines with ease.
- Holidays or upcoming PTO
- Delivery time for goods and materials
- Additional training or onboarding of outside team members
- Review the strategic plan Ask yourself, where do the implementation plan and strategic plan align so far? Where does it conflict? When in doubt, always edit your implementation plan to support your strategic plan.
- What the project is
- Why it’s important
- Who is involved
- What is each person’s role in the project
- What all parties hope to achieve
- The obstacles you foresee and how your team will overcome them
- Which ROIs you’ll use to measure success
- Is available for the project as a whole
- Should be allocated to each key phase
- Will be monitored, and who will oversee it
- Will be broken down into trackable categories
- Collect related materials Gather the documents you need to plan and execute the project all in one place. Include data from past projects that may help you accurately forecast this one.
- Define how progress will be measured and monitored Choose KPIs that align with your project goals, then chart progress within your project management solution. Come up with a plan for who is in charge and how often they’ll check in.
- Outline management buy-in criteria Get crystal clear on what managers are looking for, what information they need to approve or reject, and any other information that will decrease resistance.
- Do a stakeholder analysis Create a chart that defines each stakeholder’s level of impact, influence, and attitude. Explain the evaluations further and create an action plan for each person or group.
- Clarify day-to-day operations Include a work plan that goes over which processes will be used, which will be changed, and how future changes will be dealt with down the road. Choose who is responsible for approving, managing, and finalizing adjustments as they come up.
- Everyone’s preferred mode of communication
- What type of updates are expected when
- And how information will be shared Also, designate communication channels and leaders who will oversee them. Don’t forget to loop in both your implementation leader and strategy director. Stakeholders do not need to sign off on this section. However, you may choose to share it with them so they can see how you plan to keep everyone on track.
- Identify key project phases, tasks, and subtasks Break the project goal down into actionable steps. Give each phase a name, deadline, and set of related tasks. Use project status updates in Wrike to communicate task and subtask due date expectations with everyone involved. Updates are formatted as dropdown menu options which make it easy for individuals to quickly update the entire team when they’ve moved on to the next step. After, assign team members to complete and approve each task. Set up task dependencies within Wrike, so status notifications are automatically sent to those who were waiting to move on to the next step.
- Go over security needs If your project deals with sensitive data, outline what you’ll need to keep the entire project and team compliant throughout. List all digital and physical information sources that require privacy (think sensitive company financial data, home addresses, credit or bank account information, etc.).
- Provide a glossary Include industry terms that clients, stakeholders, and teams will need to know throughout the course of the project. Add project-related abbreviations, slang, or resource nicknames you expect will come up in communications.
What are the components of an implementation plan?
There are 13 components every implementation plan needs to have:
- Selected tools
- Preliminary research
- Strategic plan alignment
- Project summary
- Resource and materials list
- Goal monitoring and measurement
- Buy-in criteria
- Stakeholder management
- Operations plan
- Management plan
- Key phases and tasks
- Glossary of terms
A simple implementation plan template
Your own project implementation plan will have lots of information included, but a simple table including the steps needed to launch the project is always a good place to start.
In this example, a small business is preparing to launch an online store to sell its products. Let's take a look at how this looks on a simple table.
What are implementation planning best practices?
- Always be as specific as possible
- Don’t shy away from consulting experts and conducting additional research as needed
- Pull data from similar past projects (successful and unsuccessful), then apply what you learned
- Remember that 100% alignment between all stakeholders and personnel across the board is unrealistic
- Use a project management solution to quickly update plans when changes come up
- Centralize communication to save time and keep everyone on the same page
What information do you put in an implementation schedule?
Include an outline of the project timeline, goals, and tasks to keep teams on the same page. Combine that with key updates on:
- The progress of major phases
- Adjustments made to budgets, timelines, or personnel
- Upcoming challenges and planned solutions
Implementation schedules are also meant for stakeholders, so the information you put in one needs to be tailored toward their needs. Identify each stakeholder’s level of involvement and what information they want to receive.
What is the implementation process?
The implementation process is the step-by-step plan a team follows to achieve a shared objective. Each step is concrete and actionable. These instructions should be easily understood by anyone who reads them.
What is a good implementation plan example?
One good implementation plan example comes from Outdoor Equipment Manufacturer MTD . The brand uses Wrike to optimize its complex product development process.
Their projects involve having multiple active tasks open across a variety of teams at the same time. As a result, their implementation plan relies on custom workflows, visual progress updates, and a bird’s eye view of what’s going on across the entire organization.
Who creates implementation plans?
Project managers create implementation plans. They may choose to collaborate with team leads, subject experts, suppliers, and stakeholders to add important details. However, project managers are responsible for drafting, revising, and monitoring implementation plans the whole way through.
What are the challenges of an implementation plan?
- Foggy vision Implementation plans are only as good as the strategy they’re based on. Connect back to your original goals and strategy plan frequently when drafting the implementation process.
- Bad communication Instant messenger notes and email updates tend to get lost over the course of a project. Centralize all communication in your project management platform. In Wrike, use @ mentions to loop in stakeholders and collaborators.
- Lack of training Hire outside specialists or plan time for proper employee training on new projects, especially if those skill sets come with a learning curve.
How to use Wrike as implementation planning software
Create a foolproof project plan using Wrike’s visual Gantt charts, detailed task options, and robust templates . Each of these features helps project managers easily make and monitor progress. Use our two-week free trial to save time with customizable implementation plan templates you can use over and over again.
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Implementation Plan In Project Management
Projects are created based on the strategic plan of the company. They support the strategy that stakeholders have defined and help get closer to the ultimate goal.
But in order to get to the goals, a project must be implemented correctly and in a way that aligns with the businesses’ values and ethics. To help with that, project managers design implementation plans for their projects, so that they can bring them to life in the best and most efficient way possible.
Today we will talk about the main benefits, components, and tips for successful planning of the implementation plan using online task organization tools .
What is a project implementation plan?
A project implementation plan is also known as a strategic plan. Essentially, it is a step-by-step guideline that:
- Helps the project team identify what needs to be done and in what order to get to the desired outcome, allowing them to work with their daily planners and task tracking apps efficiently.
- Considers all variables that influence the project plan implementation, like risks and resources.
There is no single format that the strategic implementation plan should come in but it’s usually provided in the form of a Word document or a PowerPoint presentation. A project implementation plan is similar to a business plan, so it is best delivered in a single file where all details and nuances can be described in detail.
An implementation plan is needed for every business initiative to guarantee the best results. Kind of like when you plan a 90-day trip around the world with 30 countries to visit. You will probably still manage without a plan, but you will definitely experience delays, pay more than you initially budgeted for, miss a few countries, and have all sorts of situations along the way.
Why do you need a project implementation plan?
We’ve already mentioned that implementation plans support the project goals and ensure there are no deviations that will cause dissatisfactory project results.
But let’s go into a bit more detail about it and look at the main reasons to add the implementation plan to your project management routine:
- Have a clear structure that you can fall back on. Everything is outlined, including the timeframes, so you just simply follow the instructions.
- You get to think through the tasks in a time planner app and activities in online schedule maker that must be completed, so there is less risk of wasting time on duplicating or busywork.
- There is less downtime associated with figuring out what to do next or waiting on previous tasks to be finished because no one considered co-dependencies.
- Project resource allocation is optimized to the max. You won’t run into an empty pocket three weeks into the project.
- There’s a plan for dealing with change, so your team can make the most of the changing environment.
- It’s easier to communicate and collaborate on the project.
In general, the main goal of the implementation plan is to guarantee clarity of who, what, when, and how of the project before it is officially launched.
What does the implementation plan consist of?
A good implementation plan needs to be all-encompassing but also precise and to the point. Below is what each plan should include:
- List of goals and project objectives. If you’ve done a scope statement before, then include it here as well for more detail and insight, in case somebody wants to dig deeper.
- Project deliverables which are the tangible goals of the project.
- Project tasks with deadlines that will go on the team’s digital to-do lists , you can use online soft for this such as schedule weekly planner for teams .
- Roles and responsibilities within a project (might be less relevant for Lean projects than more formal ones, but makes sense to outline them at least approximately in any case).
- Budget information: how much is available for the entire project.
- Resource allocation information: how are budget, people, time, and other resources allocated across all tasks and goals.
- Timeframes, implementation schedule, and project milestones .
- Change management plan.
- Risk assessment and management plan.
- Evaluation criteria: KPIs and other success metrics, frequency of evaluations (e.g. every week, after each sprint in sprint reviews , once a quarter).
How to create your implementation plan
It’s not a one-size-fits-all situation but there are general tips and tricks that we can recommend to all projects, industries, and methodologies.
An implementation plan is, in some sense, just a fancy-sounding alternative to an action plan.
Step 1: Identify goals and objectives
You can’t get to your destination if you don’t know where it is. Once you know your goals, it will be harder to derail from the original plan and add tasks that don’t generate value.
Talk to stakeholders, ask them questions, and brainstorm together. Then have a meeting with the project team to go through all goals and objectives that you’ve established with the stakeholders. It makes sense to run the goals by the team as they are the ones who will be actively working on the project. They have the expertise and experience, so they’ll quickly point out any incoherence or potential issue.
Talk through the acceptance criteria and KPIs that will be used by stakeholders to approve or decline the project. These things should be written down and have formal approvals from key stakeholders.
Tip: Because you already have the stakeholders’ attention, it might be helpful to touch on potential risks and change management with them. Also, schedule a recurring reminder in your work calendar planner to catch up with stakeholders throughout the project and ensure they’re still on the same page with you.
Step 2: Do your research
We are not talking about market research where you look for clues on whether the project idea is feasible or not.
Rather we refer to the project-related research. One of the many roles of a project manager is to identify how much time the project will take, how much budget it requires and how many people must be hired to complete the work on time.
Those aspects along with the project scope are known as the project management triangle and they must be estimated precisely to ensure the project will be a success.
Tip: When researching, project managers are recommended to collaborate with the team and stakeholders but also use their previous experience as a reference point. Project management is highly dynamic, and changes occur all the time. Therefore, PMs have the best chance of making correct estimations when they both ask for advice and trust their guts.
Step 3: Brainstorm risks and plan for mitigation
Once the goals are finalized, and the resources requirements with timeline are known, it is time to dig deeper into risk management.
Yes, we know, it’s not fun and you’d rather do something else. However, risk assessment in the early days of the project implementation planning will significantly reduce the chance of failure later on.
A lot of the risks are rather a threat that can be avoided, mitigated, or eliminated if spotted on time. For example, if you are planning for a trip around the world, it makes sense to factor in the risk of having your passport stolen. As a risk mitigation measure, you can keep it separately from your wallet, leave it in the vault in the hotel room, or keep copies with your personal information that you can show in the embassy.
Once you’ve identified all possible risks, use SWOT analysis and Risk Assessment Matrix . These tools are widely spread and easy to use. They will both give you a comprehensive overview of where you are and help identify top risks that you should focus on immediately.
Tip: not all risks are predictable or preventable. Plan for the unforeseen. That means identifying who will be dealing with risks that nobody knew were coming, who they will notify about those risks, and a rough action plan. Also, make sure your project implementation plan is efficient but there is some wiggle room that allows you to pause and deal with an issue without immediately damaging the project’s timeline and everything else.
Step 4: Map out the change management plan
A change management plan helps streamline and standardize the process of dealing with change.
There are 2 types of changes that happen during the project:
- Internal change requests: a stakeholder has a change of heart, something was planned incorrectly initially and has to be adjusted.
- External change: something beyond the company’s control happens and pushes us to change course. Things like competitors launching similar features earlier than us, global pandemics, and economic hardships – all force the project management team to re-think their original goals and plans.
What should the change management plan include?
It’s okay to keep it short and sweet but make sure the key points are included:
- What changes are declined by default.
- How internal change requests are submitted.
- Who reviews the change requests.
- Who implements the change requests.
Once completed, approve the change management plan with key stakeholders and upload it to the team’s project management software so everyone can see it.
Step 5: Create a task list and identify co-dependencies
By now you probably already have a good idea of what tasks and assignments will be included in the project.
In step 5 we finalize the to-do list and make sure it contains everything. Once we have the tasks, we can identify the co-dependencies.
Knowing about task co-dependencies will do several things:
- Will help us plan project execution smarter to avoid needless downtime. Often, projects get delayed because someone needs to wait for another job to be finished. We don’t want that.
- Allow us to schedule tasks in parallel and reduce the project’s timeline. The sooner the product or service is released to the market, the better. If there is a harmless way to speed the process up – why not use it?
- Should something go wrong and the project is delayed, knowing about co-dependencies will help us get it back on track with techniques like Fast-Tracking or crashing.
Step 6: Define and schedule milestones
Project milestones are like checkpoints or metrics that are spread across the project’s timeline. Milestones help us track the progress, look back at what was achieved, and see how well the execution is going.
An example of a milestone in construction can be receiving all permits that are required to start building the house. Or it can be finalizing the plan with the architect.
Milestones can coincide with the end of project phases, like design or implementation in Waterfall , but they can be completely separate. You might add milestones based on your preference and allocate them anywhere you’d like on the project timeline because milestones don’t require time to complete, they just happen.
Tip: Don’t forget to check back with the team members and key project stakeholders. Maybe they’ll come up with cool milestones that will be really meaningful for everyone involved in the project. You can use free daily schedule maker for teams to controll the progress.
Step 7: Allocate resources
The final step of the project implementation plan comprises allocating resources across the project tasks.
Resources include time, money, team members, software, physical equipment, and anything else really. Allocating resources at this point in the project, before it officially kicked off, will serve as an extra safety level. You will see if there are, in fact, enough resources to go by or if you need to re-adjust some things to remain within the budget and the timeline.
If it turns out that there are not enough resources, look for ways to optimize the process and make sure the top priority tasks have enough.
Tip: If you work with project management philosophies like Agile , you might not need to assign team members to tasks right away because they are supposed to be picked up by whoever has the bandwidth and expertise. Naturally, that wouldn’t work with formal methodologies like Prince2 . In any case, have a rough estimate or who picks up what to guarantee that you will have enough people to meet the demands of the project.
Common struggles of the implementation plan
It’s not all a bed of roses and, unfortunately, there are known difficulties associated with the implementation plan.
It’s good to be aware of what they are, so you can deal with them or avoid them altogether:
- The risk of not going ahead but rather getting stuck in the planning phase. Know when to stop planning and start doing.
- Stakeholder issues. They might not approve the plan or just not follow it. Stakeholder management is a separate art form. Don’t underestimate their influence on the project as they are known to create all sorts of delays and bottlenecks.
- Not every goal is easily translated into an action step or something measurable. That can become a problem because abstract goals can be interpreted in too many different forms. Techniques like SMART goal planning can help deal with those goals.
- A good plan does not equal project success. You might still fail with a perfectly fine plan, so don’t consider the project implementation plan to be a cure-all.
Implementation plan best practices
Every project manager has their own tricks but here are some of the best practices that have been helping countless PMs across the globe:
- Engage with the team. Ideally find experts in different aspects of the project and include them in strategic planning. It will make your plan as complete and comprehensive as possible.
- Communicate why the implementation plan is being created and how it benefits the entire project team and all stakeholders.
- Be specific with goals/issues/root causes. Less ambiguity – more success.
- Communication is key! Ensure open communication for transparency, and get new creative ideas and participation from others. Create a communications plan for best results.
- Once the implementation plan is written and submitted, don’t forget about it! Go back to the plan to track how well you’re doing and see if your results match the original ideas.
- Keep the implementation plan online and available for anyone to see. It’s good if the team and stakeholders can have an occasional peek into the plan. They can use it for extra motivation, or to check on what’s next and coming. They won’t be bothering the PM for updates too if they can just see what’s planned for next week and what was done this week.
- Use project management software such as Bordio’s best virtual planner to simplify the project implementation process. Automation is your friend – you save time, there’s more transparency, and it’s easy to track success and provide reports. And insist on everyone on the team using the digital weekly planner that will keep them aware of the workload and help fight procrastination.
- If your project is not secret or sensitive in some way, you can share the finished implementation plan with an outsider (like someone in the company who has nothing to do with the project). If they can understand its logic and main points, then the plan is good.
Final thoughts on project implementation plan
Implementation is very important because it’s what brings the plan to life. There’s little point in having ambitious goals and plans if they are not put into action.
Make sure you dedicate enough time to planning and working out all the nuances. Remember that planning is never a waste of time. Every minute of planning saves proportionally much more time in execution.
Also, don’t overcook your implementation plan. It needs to be good but don’t be afraid to move on to the execution phase.
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17. Project Implementation Overview
Adrienne Watt; Merrie Barron; and Andrew Barron
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After you have carefully planned your project, you will be ready to start the project implementation phase, the third phase of the project management life cycle. The implementation phase involves putting the project plan into action. It’s here that the project manager will coordinate and direct project resources to meet the objectives of the project plan. As the project unfolds, it’s the project manager’s job to direct and manage each activity, every step of the way. That’s what happens in the implementation phase of the project life cycle: you follow the plan you’ve put together and handle any problems that come up.
The implementation phase is where you and your project team actually do the project work to produce the deliverables. The word “deliverable” means anything your project delivers. The deliverables for your project include all of the products or services that you and your team are performing for the client, customer, or sponsor, including all the project management documents that you put together.
The steps undertaken to build each deliverable will vary depending on the type of project you are undertaking, and cannot therefore be described here in any real detail. For instance engineering and telecommunications projects will focus on using equipment, resources, and materials to construct each project deliverable, whereas computer software projects may require the development and implementation of software code routines to produce each project deliverable. The activities required to build each deliverable will be clearly specified within the project requirements document and project plan.
Your job as project manager is to direct the work, but you need to do more than deliver the results. You also need to keep track of how well your team performs. The implementation phase keeps the project plan on track with careful monitoring and control processes to ensure the final deliverable meets the acceptance criteria set by the customer. This phase is typically where approved changes are implemented.
Most often, changes are identified by looking at performance and quality control data. Routine performance and quality control measurements should be evaluated on a regular basis throughout the implementation phase. Gathering reports on those measurements will help you determine where the problem is and recommend changes to fix it.
When you find a problem, you can’t just make a change, because it may be too expensive or take too long to do. You will need to look at how it affects the triple constraint (time, cost, scope) and how it impacts project quality. You will then have to figure out if it is worth making the change. If you evaluate the impact of the change and find that it won’t have an impact on the project triple constraint, then you can make the change without going through change control. Change control is a set of procedures that lets you make changes in an organized way.
Any time you need to make a change to your plan, you must start with a change request. This is a document that either you or the person making the request must complete. Any change to your project must be documented so you can figure out what needs to be done, by when, and by whom.
Once the change request is documented, it is submitted to a change control board. A change control board is a group of people who consider changes for approval. Not every change control system has a board but most do. The change request could also be submitted to the project sponsor or management for review and approval. Putting the recommended changes through change control will help you evaluate the impact and update all the necessary documents. Not all changes are approved, but if the changes are approved, you send them back to the team to put them in place.
The implementation phase uses the most project time and resources, and as a result, costs are usually the highest during this phase. Project managers also experience the greatest conflicts over schedules in this phase. You may find as you are monitoring your project that the actual time it is taking to do the scheduled work is longer than the amount of time planned.
When you absolutely have to meet the date and you are running behind, you can sometimes find ways to do activities more quickly by adding more resources to critical path tasks. That’s called crashing . Crashing the schedule means adding resources or moving them around to to bring the project back into line with the schedule. Crashing always costs more and doesn’t always work. There’s no way to crash a schedule without raising the overall cost of the project. So, if the budget is fixed and you don’t have any extra money to spend, you can’t use this technique.
Sometimes you’ve got two activities planned to occur in sequence, but you can actually do them at the same time. This is called fast tracking the project. On a software project, you might do both your user acceptance testing (UAT) and your functional testing at the same time, for example. This is pretty risky. There’s a good chance you might need to redo some of the work you have done concurrently. Crashing and fast tracking are schedule compression tools. Managing a schedule change means keeping all of your schedule documents up to date. That way, you will always be comparing your results to the correct plan.
After the deliverables have been physically constructed and accepted by the customer, a phase review is carried out to determine whether the project is complete and ready for closure.
This chapter was adapted by Adrienne Watt from “ Project Execution ” in Project Management by Merrie Barron and Andrew Barron. Licensed under a CC BY 4.0 licence .
17. Project Implementation Overview by Adrienne Watt; Merrie Barron; and Andrew Barron is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.