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The Project Management Plan (PMP)

All the professional bodies offer guidelines on the level and type of information that should be defined in the early stages of the project in the form of a Project Management Plan.

The purpose of such a document is to provide a comprehensive baseline of what has to be achieved by the project, how it is to be achieved, who will be involved, how it will be reported and measured and how information will be communicated. It should be used as a reference for any decision that is made on the project and for clarification of unclear areas.Such a document should be used as a reference throughout the project to ensure that the management of the project is carried out consistently and in line with policy and procedures. Although the PMP is developed as part of the project initiation and definition, it should be a living document that evolves as the project progresses and is updated with the latest relevant information as required.

The PMP should be available to all project members as it can provide essential project information and can be used to introduce project members to the project. The project management plan is probably the main communication document for the project.

  • Executive summary – This section should include a few paragraphs describing, at a high level, the key elements of the project that are detailed throughout the project plan.
  • Strategic/organisational alignment – It must be determined which organisational objectives will be supported by undertaking the project. This section should also include the results of the project’s stakeholder analysis.
  • Project scope definition – The purpose and objectives of the project should be stated in this section. There should be definition as to the scope of the project as well as the major deliverables. The product breakdown structure (PBS) and the work breakdown structure (WBS) will be determined here. Quality specifications will also be included in this section, describing the product or service performance criteria from a customer perspective. Project assumptions should also be included, clarifying grey areas in the project scope.
  • Feasibility assessment and contingency plans – this section should evaluate the economic, technical, operational and organisational feasibility of the project; identify and assess project risks; and provide contingency plans to address high impact risk factors.
  • Constraints – a list of any known constraints imposed by the environment or by management e.g. fixed budget, limited resources etc
  • Human resource requirements – Define the project team organisation, roles and responsibility requirements. Training requirements will need to be identified here and the development of a project training plan should begin.
  • Material/equipment requirements – this section should define space, hardware/software, and other resources needed to complete the project successfully.
  • Project schedule and milestones – The contents of this section will define the milestones and activity schedule of the project, integrating three key elements: deliverables, due date or duration and critical dependencies.
  • Budget/cost estimate – Estimates are required for the project duration. See here for our 12 Basic Rules for Estimating your Project. Costs are typically divided into three types: capital items, expense items and labour.
  • Risk Management – This section will detail the process to be employed on the project in order to manage risk. More information may be found on risk management here.
  • Project issues – issues are the things that have happened which are outside the authority of the project manager and need to be escalated in order to achieve a resolution. This section should define the process to be used to manage issues identified on the project.
  • Change management – The change management process to be utilised on the project should be described in this section.
  • Communication management – In this part of the PMP there should be a description of the system of communications and the project performance documentation that will be provided to the various stakeholders.
  • Related products and deliverables – This section should document known project dependencies, with other groups within or outside of the organisation to ensure the project is not exposed by other business processes.
  • Approvals – This section will capture approval signatures from project stakeholders.
  • Attachments – Included in this section will be pointers to pertinent documents such as the business case, notes and related documents.