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Project Plan Template

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Download this free project plan template for Word to scope your work and break it down into manageable components; then schedule and assign the tasks needed to complete your project.

You can also use this project management plan template to manage workloads and tasks as changes occur. A project plan is the foundation of the work you do to lead a project to successful completion.

Once everything is sorted on the Word doc, open ProjectManager’s free project plan template. It lets you build a dynamic project plan that can be managed in five different project views: Gantt chart, task list, kanban board, calendar and spreadsheet. Plus, your team can collaborate on the project in real time and track progress along the way with dashboards and instant status reports. Get started for free with ProjectManager and build a better project plan.

Free project plan template
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What Is a Project Plan Template?

A project plan template is a document that compiles all the guidelines and procedures the project management team needs to execute a project. Project plan templates allow project managers to save time during the project planning phase and also help them ensure nothing slips through the cracks.

How to Use This Project Plan Template

Project planning starts with a thorough project plan document. Follow these planning steps to ensure that your project plan covers all project aspects. This means you’ll be less likely to run into surprises.

1. Planning Basis

Project Scope

Begin with the project scope. What activities and tasks as defined in your project must be completed to make the project a success? Use the project charter as a springboard. You can also use a work breakdown structure to identify all the activities, tasks, deliverables and milestones of your project.

Project Milestones

Based on your project charter or work breakdown structure, note the milestones or major events or phases in your project, and collect them in a chart with three columns for the milestone, a description and its delivery date. Examples of milestones are when the business case is approved when the project team is appointed or the project management office is established.

Project Management Phases

The next step is detailing the phases of the project, which is defined as a set of activities, such as the project’s initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and closure. These should also be noted in a chart with the phase followed by a description of it and its sequence.

Project Tasks

You need to note the tasks that are necessary to complete the project, too. There are many project tasks such as developing a quality plan, formulating supplier contracts and performing project closure. Write them out in a chart listing the phase, activity, description and sequence.

Effort & Resource Requirements

This leads to the effort likely needed to complete the above tasks. List the task with the amount of time you believe necessary to finish the task. This in turn goes hand in glove with resources, so you want to take the task and attach a resource or team member to it. This is the person responsible for completing the task.

2. Project Plan

Project Schedule

Now you’re ready to create a project schedule from the summary above. Use the phases and activities to create a Gantt chart to easily visualize the project timeline, the work needed and its duration.

Task Dependencies

You want to add the dependencies, or tasks that are linked to others and can potentially block team members if not done in a timely and sequential manner. In fact, there are four types of task dependencies: finish-to-start, finish-to-finish, start-to-start and start-to-finish. List the key dependencies in a chart with the activity, what it depends on and the type of dependency.

Project Assumptions and Constraints

List any assumptions you have about the project. Then note the project constraints. Finally, in an appendix, you’ll want to attach the supporting documentation, such as the project schedule, business case, feasibility study, project charter, etc.

3. Budget, Risk and Change Management

Project Budget

The project budget is one of the most critical components of any project plan. That’s because the project budget determines the amount of money available for your project. Therefore, you need to be very careful when creating yours.

First, gather your project tasks, identify the resource requirements for each and lastly estimate their costs. Once you have the costs for each project task, you can add them to get your estimated project cost value. That value will be your cost baseline and the base for your project budget.

Risk Log

Every project plan needs a risk management section. Our project plan template has a risk log so you can list the potential risks that could affect your project plan. From there you can develop your risk mitigation strategies and assign risk owners.

Change Management Process

Every project plan needs to be changed during the execution phase for several reasons. For example, new project requirements might arise and cause changes to the original plan. As a project manager, you must oversee how changes are made to your project. Our change management log helps you keep track of any changes made to your project plan.

4. Appendix

Each project management plan is unique, and its components might vary depending on the requirements of your project. These are the most commonly used documents:

Why You Need a Project Plan Template

Now that you’ve downloaded the free project plan template, you are ready to get your project on track to a successful completion! The project plan is crucial, as it is the fundamental project planning document from which your project is formally managed.

The project plan is made up of goals, activities, tasks and resources needed to complete the project as outlined in the project business case and the project charter. You want to have a description of the major phases of the project, a schedule of activities, tasks and their duration, dependencies, resources, timeframes, etc. Then list the assumptions and constraints in the project planning process.

When you’re creating a project management plan, follow these steps: note the project scope, identify milestones and tasks, estimate costs, quantify the effort required, allocate the resources, make a schedule, list dependencies and document it for approval. Your project management plan template needs to incorporate components such as the scope management plan, cost management plan and schedule management plan, among others.

A Project Plan Template, showing the first steps in the form-fillable project management plan template document
ProjectManager’s free Project Plan Template for Word.

While the business case from earlier in the project planning process may offer a general project view, the project plan goes into greater detail once the project scope and charter are formalized and a team is hired. Although you write the project plan during the project planning phase, it doesn’t stay in a drawer once complete. This project plan template should be considered a living document that’ll be revisited and referred to throughout the project life cycle. This is because the project management plan is a roadmap that project managers use during the execution phase when they need information about the project schedule, costs, scope and budget.

Once your document is finalized, it’s time to build a dynamic project plan and schedule. Project planning software can help you transfer your project plan onto a Gantt chart so you can create a timeline, schedule work, design phases, attach documents and track progress along the way. Then share the plan with your team, who can use multiple project views, such as the task list, sheet, calendar and kanban board.

ProjectManager's kanban view

When Do I Use the Project Plan Template?

The project management life cycle is made up of five phases: the initiation phase, the planning phase, the execution phase, the monitoring and the closure phase. Planning comes in after you’ve initiated the project but before it’s executed.

For example, during the initiation phase, there are many documents that are created to set up the project plan, such as a feasibility study to identify the problem you want to solve, the scope of the project and the deliverables you want. This feeds into the business case, which compares costs versus benefits. The statement of work (SOW) looks at the project goals, objectives, scope and deliverables.

These don’t constitute a project plan, but they do lay the foundation on which you’ll build your plan. This is when you take the broad strokes from the initiation phase and break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks. Each of these tasks must be achieved within the project timeframe.

Who Uses the Project Plan Template?

It’s important to note that the project manager is tasked with the ownership of creating the project plan, but work isn’t done in isolation. The project manager must work in congress with the team, experts and others who can provide insight and guidance into developing a realistic project management plan.

Teams are assembled for their skills and experience working on such projects, so it makes sense that you need ideas on how to plan the project. Of course, the team will have access to the project plan throughout the execution phase of the project. They’ll be assigned tasks and be responsible for delivering them on time and within budget.

Others who will use the project plan include stakeholders and executives, or anyone with a vested interest in the successful outcome of the project. The project manager will present to these groups throughout the project life cycle to keep them abreast of progress and ensure that actual progress matches what’s been outlined in the project plan.

Free Project Management Templates

There are dozens of free project management templates for Word and Excel available on our site. Some of them are useful during the project planning process. Here are a few that can help build your project plan.

Action Plan Template

Your project plan has to align with a larger strategy which is outlined in an action plan. The free action plan template provides you with a space to lay out the needed steps and concrete tasks to reach your project goal. The action plan gives you a frame in which to capture the main thrust of the project to help you prioritize tasks in your plan.

Gantt Chart Template

The Gantt chart is the workhorse of project management planning. It’s a visual tool that organizes your tasks on a timeline. It helps you prioritize and set durations for each task, shows phases and breaks up larger projects into more manageable phases.

WBS Template

Another key tool when building your project schedule is the work breakdown structure (WBS). This is a technique for working backward from your final deliverable to outline each step that gets you there. It’s a thorough way to make sure you don’t miss any puzzle pieces of your larger project. This project management template takes you through that process.

Related Content

Now that you’ve downloaded your free project management plan template and it reflects your project plan, you’re ready for the job at hand. But, whether you’re a project management journeyman or apprentice, you never want to stay complacent. Industries and businesses don’t stand still, and you have to do your best to stay up-to-date on new trends.

There are many free project management templates and topics of discussion on ProjectManager that can be easily filtered to bring you the content that’s most relevant to your interests. Subjects include, but aren’t limited to, project management software, scheduling, risk and task management, collaboration, time tracking, Gantt charts, reporting and, of course, planning.

As the subject at hand is planning, we’ve compiled three of the most recent and relevant posts on project planning. Enjoy!

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ProjectManager is a great project planning tool. It offers the features you need to plan, track and report on your project. There are online and interactive Gantt charts that take the pain out of having to build one manually.

The software is also online so it’s easy to access from anywhere and on any device. Better still, it makes sharing necessary documents and tasks easy, and both the project manager and team members can get automated notifications to streamline the reporting process.

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