The Project Management Plan (PMP) is a comprehensive baseline of what must be achieved by the project, how it is to be achieved, and how the project is going to be monitored and controlled.
It provides detailed plans, processes, and procedures for managing and controlling the life cycle activities of a specific project, serving as the main reference for any element of the project team asking for guidance on the project. In summary, it is the place to go to in every occasion, a sort of “project’s Bible”.
When is it developed and by whom?
The PMP is developed in the Planning Phase of the project by the Project Management Team. It is shouldn’t be an isolated, heroic task though. It will require many inputs from different areas and stakeholders so don’t be afraid to ask for their help and viewpoints.
What does it contain?
This magical-document-that-will-answer-anyone’s-questions is formed of subsidiary plans relating to each of the project knowledge areas (e.g. scope management, cost management), which can be referred to in the document or assembled into a single master document.
It is composed of the following:
- Scope Management Plan: it all starts with defining what the project is about, that is, the scope of the project. In the Scope Management Plan, one can find the scope statement, what is in scope and out of scope, or the work breakdown structure (WBS) looks like. Moreover, it details the objectives and benefits of the project and includes the project success criteria. Being a scope management plan, it also defines the approach to scope management, including how to deal with change requests to scope or how to update the scope baseline.
- Schedule Management Plan: the Schedule Management Plan lists the known requirements and shows considerations about the project scope, such as what defines a task, the selected level of effort method, how resources are going to be assigned to the project, how the schedule performance is going to be measured and reported, as well as how changes to schedule are going to be addressed. The Plan also details the approach to schedule management, including defined processes, tailoring to existing organizational procedures, and recommended tools and techniques to be used in the project.
- Cost Management Plan: as you certainly guess, this plan is all about the management of the project costs, namely, it defines the baseline cost, cost status reporting, and invoicing procedures. Additionally, it covers the recommended methods, tools and techniques to deal with the project costs, clarifies roles and responsibilities and defines the cost processes in place.
- Quality Management Plan: the Quality Management Plan covers all the details relating to the three key components of quality management: quality planning, quality assurance, and quality control. That means that this is the place to find what quality audits are planned for the project, who is responsible for assuring the project’s quality, what are the quality acceptance criteria for the various deliverable, or how, when and who is responsible to apply corrective actions when the quality standards are not met.
- Human Resources Plan: this plan focuses the human side of the project, defining the structure of the project governance as well as the composition of the project management team. It also emphasizes the staffing approach for the project, namely, how to acquire staff, how joiners should be integrated, or how the team will be evaluated, developed, and later transitioned when the project is completed. Moreover, it lists a number of processes that need to be considered for the effective management of project human resources, as well as recommended approach for the selection of related tools and techniques.
- Communication Management Plan: good project management is a lot about good communication so there is no wonder that there is a separate management plan to address this topic. It identifies the communication requirements by the various stakeholders, including the need for project reporting and project meetings. Also, it defines the project communication matrix, ensuring that roles and responsibilities regarding communication in, within and outside the project are clear to all.
- Stakeholder Management Plan: it is said that stakeholders are impossible to manage but you can try at least to manage their expectations and their level of engagement. For that, I give you a Stakeholder Management Plan. This plan defines the project approach to deal with stakeholders, that interesting group of individuals who can make or break your project. It covers the steps from stakeholder identification, to engagement planning and monitoring, and it even includes a nice matrix to plot their power and interest in the project.
- Risk Management Plan: all projects contain an element of risk thus it is a good practice to plan how your project is going to survive respond to events that can impact it. The Risk Management Plan defines the process which will be used to identify, analyze, evaluate and treat risks both initially and throughout the life of the project, the process for accessing the risk budget, scales to be used for qualitative assessment, and plenty of useful guidance, such as roles and responsibilities for risk management, or how to use and report on the project risk register.
- Configuration Management Plan: this management plan encompasses all the processes, responsibilities, methods, tools and techniques that relate to the creation, maintenance, and controlled change of the scope of work of the project. In the Configuration Management Plan, you will be able to find the product baselines, their naming convention, current approved version, procedure for storage and retention, as well as the process for configuration audits with the purpose of ensuring that only authorized and up to date versions of products are used.
- Procurement Management Plan: probably not the most exciting of the project’s plans (unless you work in Procurement, of course), but still a crucial management document, the Procurement Management Plan captures all the details that the project management team needs to know when engaging a third party in the project. It defines the contract type agreed, highlights procurement risks, identifies the contract award process and decision criteria and, as importantly, it defines the metrics to evaluate and monitor vendor’s performance and well as the overall vendor management process.
Cool, but what’s in it for me?
Not just for you but for anyone who has access to the PMP, there are key benefits available to all:
- It lets you see the big picture: not just the sum of the parts of the project but how each of them interrelates, preventing you from missing any key dependency
- Keeps all your team members on the same page: together, you have a mission to accomplish. Gain commitment from your team and let it be clear to all what that mission involves.
- Identify any potential issues as early as possible: by making the information explicit, you have the opportunity to search for any risks not previously noticed and ensure that nothing falls through the cracks
- Build stakeholder engagement: by communicating the project aspects and bringing clarity on roles and responsibilities, project benefits and scope, stakeholders are more likely to be engaged with the project.
The PMP should be available at all time to all project members as it can provide essential project information and can be used to introduce project members to the project. One can even say that the project management plan is probably the main communication document for the project!