How to Create an Effective Project Plan

6 min readJan 13, 2021
Photo by Daria Nepriakhina

Your project plan will be your comprehensive guide as you and your project team endeavor on what may be a complicated, ongoing intensive project. If your stakeholders have given your team an assignment that will require many moving parts, you’ll need a resource that your team can always rely on for keeping them focused and grounded. That way, they won’t get carried away with specific tasks or stages that are only minor fragments of the big picture.

The plan will also answer these questions that your stakeholders will have:

  • How will the target goal be reached?
  • When will the project be completed?
  • How much will it cost?
  • What methods or platforms will be used for sharing the finished product?

When endeavoring on a large project with your staff, you need to ensure everyone works efficiently and at their highest productivity levels. That way, everything will be completed correctly and on time. When you have a project, you won’t want to leave all of its requirements completed at the last minute. That’s why a plan will help you and your team organize everything to be done and at what stages of production. You’ll want to monitor their progress as they progress, fitting in time for reviewing and revisions.

Consequences of Omitting a Plan

Without a plan, your stakeholders will be left in the dark, which could cause tension on their end. They may not understand your process or why you are using specific resources. It helps to layout the project timing, approach, budgeting and final result expectations so they will have more trust in your process, and there is less need for constant questioning and answers.

Missing a strong project plan could also result in a chaotic system that will end up ineffective for reaching your overall goals. The disorganization will lead to stressed workers, lower productivity / quality of work and disappointed stakeholders. For the sake of your business’ reputation and growth, you must have a solid project plan.

How to Get Started

Your project unofficially begins as soon as your client or upper management approaches you with the request for a product intended to benefit them. They will share the details that must be included in the final result. You’ll review helpful factors like the project scope, your client’s target market, what their competitors are doing and the completed project’s overall mission.

You will then assemble your team, whose efforts you will need to collaborate to achieve your stakeholders’ overall goals. Including their talents and focused expertise will ensure you can find the best solution for a successful project that will be completed by your stakeholders’ requested time.

When approaching the plan, you need to consider your client’s insights and the resources you have available, including your workforce or materials that will help with completing your project. During this phase, you and your team will brainstorm ideas to define the deliverables and shape a useful product for your stakeholders’ needs.

Avoid Stakeholder Confusion

In your project plan, you will want to be clear and informative so your stakeholders will have a thorough understanding of your approach and what it will entail. If they are aware of all components involved in your project and any possible roadblocks or main issues you will need to address, there won’t be any surprises or tension you face during the project execution. You can establish realistic timelines and budgeting so you and your team can effectively accomplish their targeted goals.

It’s only once your stakeholders have approved your project plan that you can begin moving forward. This can be a time-consuming process as they may not like your initial ideas, and you’ll have to revisit the drawing board. That’s why you need to put enough thought and effort into your plan, so the chances of needing to reconfigure your ideas are lower.

What to Include in Your Project Plan

These are the main components that you will need to include in your project plan. With these necessary details outlined, your team and stakeholders will have an understanding of the project’s big picture outline and how to achieve the final product:

  • The overall purpose of the project
  • Your stakeholder’s listed needs and their expectations of the project results
  • Target audience
  • Project milestones or phases
  • Deliverables, or tasks, to be completed within project milestones
  • Enlisted employees involved and their assigned tasks
  • Task and milestone time frames
  • Required resources (internal and external) and their expected costs

How to Make Your Business Plan Clear and Understandable for Stakeholders and Team Members

With the many details included in your project plan, you want the details to be laid out effectively, so it is easy to follow. Some sections may be full of multiple pieces of information, like the milestones and their included tasks. Laying these details in a well-organized, legible format will help readers understand what the project will entail clearly.

Structure your plan in this order:

  1. The main introduction of the project, including the purpose of the project with client information
  2. Scope and deliverables
  3. Overall project schedule, broken down into milestone sections and task timeframes within these phases
  4. Resources being outsourced or used in-house
  5. Possible issues or roadblocks and your planned solutions if faced
  6. Strategies for communication between team members or yourself and your team (collaboration software, apps for messaging, etc.)

The natural flow of all required information for your plan will make it a sufficient reference for all the project personnel. Using short sentences, appropriate headings and lists will make it easier for them to go through the information faster. That way, details won’t be overlooked if squished in the middle of long sentences or paragraphs.

Plain, simple language will help for leaving no room for interpretation with your project plan details. That way, your stakeholders will understand your project’s intentions and processing without any misinterpretations. Your staff will be able to follow all scheduling and instructions properly without veering the project in the wrong direction due to miscommunicated information.

Keep Everyone on Track

With your completed and approved project plan, you and your team can move forward with executing your mission. Your plan will be the grounding resource for you and your team to keep using as you proceed. It’s easy to get carried away with the tasks at hand and lose grasp of the big picture, so keeping your team on track with your plan as a reference will help you accomplish the original outlined goals.

You’ll also want to make sure your team meets the deadlines and milestones listed in your plan. Fortunately, there’s useful time tracking software available where you can monitor their productivity as they complete their assigned deliverables.


With actiTIME time tracking, your team can log their hours committed to project tasks and even submit their work when they’re completed. With this application, you can observe if they are ahead or falling behind your planned schedule. Using this data, you can be proactive on timing issues, so everyone stays on track as initially designed.

Online timesheet interface in actiTIME where every user can select task parameters
they want to see in their timesheets

To help you and your staff follow the scheduling outlined in your solid project plan, get started on your actiTIME free trial today.




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