Do you know the number-one reason why companies find it difficult to complete their projects? Lack of work planning.
In the absence of a work plan, everything about the project, including its objectives, schedule and teams, is unclear. This lack of clarity leads to problems such as resource conflicts, budget overruns, and the assumption of work outside the scope of the project.
Feeling a little lost when it comes to planning your work? We’ve included a step-by-step tutorial on creating a work plan, explaining the components of the process and why it’s crucial.
What is a work plan ?
The work plan is an achievable roadmap that describes all the project’s deliverables and milestones, as well as the distribution of tasks between the various players and the deadlines involved. It is the cornerstone of work management.
The work plan, often referred to as the project plan, is an action plan for establishing and achieving project objectives and covers all the important aspects of a project, such as the following:
- Project goals and objectives
- Project schedule, including milestones
- Individuals and skills involved
- How to reduce project risks.
Why is job planning crucial?
Just as you can’t build new buildings without an architectural plan, you can’t launch new projects without first determining their objectives and needs, breaking them down into manageable tasks, and formulating a strategy for bringing them to fruition.
Here’s some additional information on the importance of work planning:
Project success and work quality are ensured by work planning
Organizing a project into distinct tasks facilitates its completion and ensures that predetermined goals and objectives are met.
What’s more, work planning ensures that all projects are on schedule, meaning that your team can complete tasks on time. The quality and speed with which tasks are carried out, in turn, guarantees stakeholder and customer satisfaction.
Prevents resource conflicts and overuse
You can establish resource schedules that make the best use of employees’ time by using work planning. Workload management increases staff commitment while reducing the risk of burnout.
In addition, you can avoid overbooking staff by defining which tasks require which resources and when.
Work organization reduces stress
Project stages are defined in a work plan, making it easy to monitor progress.
As we’ve already mentioned, work planning also helps you to stay within the project scope, avoid resource conflicts and produce work on schedule. It also enables you to take steps to reduce project risks.
Combined, all these benefits of project planning help to reduce stress.
It increases worker motivation
Work scheduling enables you to assign tasks according to an employee’s abilities, as it provides information on the types of talent needed to complete a project. As a result, workers are naturally more motivated to complete the tasks delegated to them.
It facilitates the creation of optimal work plans for staff, which also contributes to resource scheduling. Workload planning, meanwhile, helps team members understand what type of work needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and how many hours it will take.
The clarity you provide helps improve employee happiness in every way.
So what happens in the job planning process?
Budgeting, scheduling, resource allocation and management, and project risk mitigation are all covered in detail as part of the work planning process.
Once the project’s objectives have been established, the planning process creates a visual representation of the work to be carried out, as well as a project timetable determined by deadlines. The process then determines which resources are available and best suited to the tasks in hand (within the allocated budget).
A good work plan also anticipates obstacles to the project, so that a fallback plan can be drawn up in case of problems.
Below, we break this process down into manageable steps.
How to create an efficient work surface?
There are three main steps to creating a successful work plan, all of which include all the necessary information. These steps have been subdivided into crucial sub-steps. Let’s look at them one by one:
1- Draw up an operational and strategic plan
A key element of strategic planning is understanding the project vision, which is crucial for large-scale projects.
For example, you’ll start by learning about a customer’s business vision, competitive advantage, and particular perspective on market gaps if you’re entrusted with the responsibility of producing thought leadership content for them.
In contrast, operational planning involves the creation of a comprehensive strategy describing which team will accomplish what and when. It serves as a roadmap for achieving project objectives.
The following steps will help you draw up your work plan:
Setting project objectives
Start by understanding the project objectives and specifications. Also be sure to document the requirements, as they will serve as a guide for the development of the entire work plan.
You’d be better able to define and prioritize project objectives if you were clearer on this point.
Set SMART objectives for the project once you understand the requirements. SMART objectives are achievable because they are specific and have a deadline. This means that when you set objectives, you need to decide on the following for each one:
- Specific: clearly state the objective in writing.
- Measurable: establish measures or procedures to monitor progress towards the goal.
- Ambitious: explain how the objective contributes to the company’s success.
- Realistic: determine how the objective can be achieved within the project parameters
- Temporally defined: calculate the estimated time needed to reach the goal.
Establish a budget and define the project scope
Next, draw up a list of the tasks involved in the project. At this stage, divide the project into deliverables. Next, draw up a list of the specific tasks you need to accomplish for each of the project’s deliverables.
Remember that you can only determine the total amount of work required for a project by breaking it down into a list of tasks. Add the estimated duration of each task to the list you create to lay the foundations of the schedule; we’ll see how to do this in a moment.
Provide an estimate of the approximate time it would take you to complete each task, in addition to approximate time estimates.
Use this plan to create a budget plan. It can be applied in one of two ways: either divide an existing budget into several categories or create a budget estimate and solicit input from stakeholders. The specifics vary depending on whether you’re sharing a proposed project budget, also known as a price estimate – with customers or stakeholders, or working with them and having them provide you with a budget.
Once again, don’t forget to record your work plan. Give your customer access to the scope of the project, in particular, so that they know what tasks you’ll perform and what deliverables you’ll need for the project.
What’s more, by using this project scope document, your team will be better able to accomplish the tasks within their remit, rather than acceding to unreasonable customer requests without informing them of the scope change.
The final step in this process is to identify any risks associated with the project and how you plan to reduce them.
One way of reducing risk and maintaining open lines of communication with customers is to define the scope of the project. It’s also a good idea to include buffer periods in the project schedule you draw up.
A useful concept is to allocate resources according to their availability. Make sure you have a fallback plan in place to determine who will work on the project in the event of an emergency or other unforeseen event. You can use reputable contractors as a fallback solution if you frequently entrust work to them.
As for other challenges, don’t forget to list them. Once you’ve reached the execution phase of the work plan, keep an eye out for potential bottlenecks. The most effective way to do this? Monitor progress using a project management tool, and keep team members regularly informed of progress at meetings.
2- Organize, distribute and supervise resources
Once you’ve completed your operational and strategic planning, move on to resource planning. Here’s everything you need to know:
Building a project team
This is the time to put together the team that will work best together to complete the current project. To choose the right people for this project, use your resource inventory to identify their skills.
If a customer asks a senior member to work on the project, check whether the project budget can support it by examining their hourly rate.
Create a project calendar
You’ll have a general idea of when the job needs to be completed once you’ve defined the project scope and tasks above.
This stage consists of drawing up a project schedule that divides the work into phases and sets milestones between each phase. These milestones make it easier to monitor the project’s progress.
Make sure your calendar identifies each task and includes a deadline.
However, when you’re working on your schedule, open your resource calendar to make sure you’re creating a realistic schedule. This way, you can create a schedule that is compatible with the current schedules of the workers you’ve chosen for the project.
Assign resources and provide them with project details
Assign tasks to team members’ calendars, because the final phase of this step is to involve them in the project. Don’t underestimate this task under any circumstances, and don’t fall into the trap of using simple spreadsheets for this complex and often dynamic task! Dedicated tools, such as Teambook, are here to help!
Expert advice: When working on a large-scale project, make sure everyone knows who they’re accountable to and who they need to collaborate with. This facilitates communication and streamlines reporting throughout the project.
3- Perform and evaluate
At this stage, you have everything you need to complete the project. Setting up check-in times and reserving time in advance for a retrospective meeting are among the last tasks. Let’s take a look at these last actions:
Decide on registration dates
To track progress, you add these dates to the project calendar. Decide on the dates, participants, and information to be communicated at project progress update meetings.
In your project management software, create milestone updates with start and end dates at the same time. This will enable you to monitor the amount of work accomplished, assess how things are fitting into the project framework, and inform stakeholders if necessary.
It’s essential to schedule a retrospective meeting in your team members’ diaries during the final phase of the project. By setting a date in advance, you can ensure that the project evaluation meeting will take place rather than being put on the back burner.
Organizing a team meeting
The purpose of a retrospective meeting is to discuss project progress with the team or teams concerned. This is a prerequisite for streamlining your work procedures and producing better, more precise work plans for future projects.
The meeting is expected to cover the following topics:
- What was successful?
- What went wrong?
- What could have been more ideal?
You should leave the meeting with a list of concrete steps you can take to improve your work-planning process.
So, are you ready to draw up an effective work plan?
Work planning is crucial to the success of any project. Without it, your productivity and work efficiency will be jeopardized, as bottlenecks are constantly being encountered.
However, don’t forget to use project planning software, which helps you collaborate with the project team and track progress while providing you with a visual overview of all the tasks involved.
If you’re looking for guidance, we recommend you try Teambook for free. It helps you inventory resources and create schedules so you can draw up precise work plans, in addition to planning, monitoring, and coordinating project teams.
Improve your work planning by trying Teambook for free right now.