The quick guide to creating an IT project plan in 6 steps

According to recent studies, failed projects cost US organizations millions of dollars each year. The good news is that there are steps you can take to help guarantee your project’s success – it all comes down to devising the right IT project plan.

Why you need an IT project plan

IT project plans are the backbone of any successful IT venture. Why? Because over 20% of IT projects fail due to a lack of dedicated resources, and over 40% fail because company priorities change midway through a project.

Unsurprisingly, these failures cost your business money and time, and they could easily be avoided by setting (and sticking to) a clear trajectory for project completion.

Steps to take

Although every project plan is unique, there are six major steps that every organization should include.

1. Set Goals

Know exactly what you’re trying to achieve. Unless the aims are clear, you can’t devise an effective plan. Goals give you something to work toward and they keep everyone on the same page.

How do you set up effective goals, then?

First, establish what the project is. Decide on what the goals are. Then, clarify that the project plan is the means of achieving these goals.

2. Identify Scope

Once you know the goals, it’s easier to see how large or complex the job is.

You or your project manager should clarify what the scope is so you know exactly what the end result should be. Give yourself clear boundaries and stick to them, and remember to revise these boundaries if the scope changes.

3. Set Budget

Be very clear about the allocated budget. This step is essential so you don’t waste resources or overstretch your business.

Now that you’ve established how long the project should take, set out the cost for the entire project and any smaller milestones. Assign someone the job of managing the budget and releasing funds when required.

4. Set deadlines and milestones

Deadlines, or milestones, give everyone specific, tangible goals to work toward. These smaller goals make the whole project manageable, particularly if it’s a complex or lengthy job.

Establish firm deadlines for any major deliverables. Draft a work breakdown structure laying out everyone’s responsibilities and when each job should be completed.

If anyone’s going to miss a date, there should be communication procedures in place.

5. Open communication and accountability

You must ensure that the right people get the information they need, when they need it. Make sure everyone knows who to contact if things go wrong or plans change.

Everyone should have a specific role within the team, and they must understand what this role is. A clear IT project plan keeps everyone accountable for their respective duties.

6. Manage your risk

While you can’t avoid every disaster, there are some problems you can predict. You or your project manager should undertake a risk assessment before commencing the project.

First, consider the risks you might face. Then, assess how likely it is that these problems will manifest, and what your contingency plans are if they do. For example, think about what you’ll do if a fundamental design flaw brings everything to a standstill.

What can you take away from all this? It’s simple, really – with some careful initial planning and clear goals, you can keep your IT project on track. Don’t rush into a project without a fully-developed plan, and revise the plan if necessary along the way.

Always get help from experienced IT consultants and MSPs if need be. Contact us today for help realizing your IT goals.