How To Make A Project Management Plan: A 5-Step Guide

Coordinating a project can feel like a daunting task sometimes. When you’re the primary person in charge, it can be challenging how to go from the beginning stages to the final outcome. But with a solid plan in place, it’ll be simpler if you have some guidance. Understanding how to make a project management plan will save you time and a bunch of headaches.

It will help keep your workflow on track, and prepare for possible setbacks if they happen.

In this article, I’ll briefly go over what a project management (PM) plan entails. Along with that, I’ll lay out a five-step guide that will make it easier to accomplish any project.

What is a project management plan?

A PM plan is a basic guide on how a project should be handled. In another way, think of it as a well-detailed (thorough) action plan in order to get the right outcomes.

PM plans can be effective at managing costs, along with understanding the risks (i.e. what could go wrong?).  It aims to minimize risks so that they won’t have a major impact on completing a project. 

A detailed PM plan will be helpful to make sure it’s successful. As a part of this article, I will lay out five steps to creating a PM plan that ends with measurable outcomes.

  1. Identify The Goals Or Objectives
  2. Refer Back To Past Projects
  3. Write An Outline For The Project
  4. Share The Plan With Those Involved In The Project
  5. Create A Backup/Contingency Plan
How to make a project management plan: Writing a project management plan that's actionable will make it easier to complete a project.

Identify the goals or objectives

One of the first steps is to lay out any goals you want to accomplish from the project. Without goals, it can be unclear how to go about it (or get an understanding of what needs to be accomplished).

Some questions to ask include the following:

  • Who is involved in the project? 
  • Who is responsible for doing which tasks?
  • What outcome do you want to get from the project?
  • When does the project need to be finished?
  • Where can the work get done more effectively? (i.e at home or in the office)
  • Why does the project matter to your customers/clients?
  • How can you finish the project on time?
How to make a project management plan: It's good to write out some goals in any project plan, so it's easier to accomplish.

Example: Developing an all-in-one messaging platform for small businesses

Let’s say you were leading a project on creating a new platform that would help small businesses. This platform would be an all-in-one messaging forum where you can chat, text, do video calls, and easily share documents with your team members. 

It would be a great alternative to using other platforms (i.e. Zoom, Google Chat). So why do you want to create a platform that would be better than those options?

The purpose of this platform would be to make communication a lot easier for teams to work together. You would want to write clear goals on what you want out of this project.

Refer back to past projects

Sometimes, it’s good to refer back to other projects in the past. Were they successful, or were their mistakes made? What can be taken away from those projects?

If a past project was successful, use that as a case study while working on a current project. It helps to implement similar strategies to working on your next project. 

Example: Did you do something similar in the past?

Going back to the messaging platform, did you work on something similar before? Have you had experience working with cloud-based platforms?

If so, were they successful? If not, what can be done differently the next time around?

Write an outline for the project

When you have a clear direction for the project, consider making an outline. Jot down any ideas on how you want the project to play out.

Some things to consider include:

  • Customers (or oftentimes, stakeholders)
  • Budget
  • Timeline of tasks that need to be finished
How to make a project management plan: It's good to jot down some ideas on how you want to go about a project.

Having some notes down will help make the work easier to do. Even if you don’t implement some of those ideas, it’s good to brainstorm and get some of that creative juice going.

Regarding the all-in-one messaging platform, how much will it cost to implement? Should you keep the budget to a minimum, or do you want to invest a lot of money into it? 

Also, what businesses would benefit from this platform? Will it solve a problem that businesses tend to have when it comes to communication?

Share the plan with those involved in the project

It helps to share the project plan with those who will be working on it. If you manage a project team, ask for feedback on what they like or what needs to be improved.

Also, use that time to discuss who is responsible for doing which tasks. It’s a good way to break down the delegation process, and determine which individuals are better at performing certain tasks.

For instance, is your team knowledgeable in software as a service (SAAS)? Are they familiar with similar digital platforms?

If you can figure that out early on, you’ll have a better understanding of who does better at certain tasks. Assigning the right tasks to individuals who can produce the right results is important.

How to make project management plan: It helps to get some ideas down on paper before taking action on a project.

Create a backup/contingency plan

There are no guarantees whether a project will succeed or not. It may turn out the other way around where it ends up not working out.

If the outcome of a project is not what it entailed, that can cause a major setback. You don’t want to have any surprise or a “Now what?” moment.

Therefore, setting up a contingency plan can be viewed as plan b. It’s good to have a backup plan in the event plan does not work out as intended.

How to make a project management plan: Looking back at past decisions can help in writing a project plan work out this time.

A good backup plan

Going back to the all-in-one messaging platform can be a major initiative to take on. Especially if it’s something that has not been done before, it can be successful or a failure. 

In that case, do you refer to other resources? Or do you take an alternative route? Do you have a viable plan b for creating a different platform? 

Overall, it helps to have a backup plan in case a project doesn’t work out. If you take other options, it may work out better for you.

Final Words

Creating a project management plan is not that difficult. An actionable and achievable plan can be created with a simple guide.

Along with that, you can get the best outcome possible by writing an actionable plan. So moving forward, that can help deal with setbacks and keep the process going. Understanding what can be achieved (and what can go wrong) will help with long-term planning.

Your Turn: Do you believe a project management plan is necessary?

I want to get your thoughts on this topic. Are you a project manager who struggles with planning?

Do you believe planning helps avoid problems that may arise? Do you think it’s necessary to communicate the plan to those working on the project?

If you’ve written a plan out, did it help you achieve the goals of the project? Or did it end up resulting in setbacks?

Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below. I look forward to reading your responses, and I’ll gladly respond promptly.

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Eric is the owner and chief editor of 

He takes great pride in helping people manage their time and grow their businesses. 

Eric is a firm believer in financial and time freedom, as he believes in financial independence and taking ownership of your time. 

“Time is your most important asset. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. How you use your time can shape the future you desire to have.” 

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Self Photo 2019: Here's a picture at a building in downtown Chicago.

2 thoughts on “How To Make A Project Management Plan: A 5-Step Guide”

  1. When one becomes a project manager, you very quickly learn that is it extremely important to have a plan. Without a plan, the whole project is like a ship without a rudder. 

    Team members often end up not knowing what is expected from them. Or sometimes, not knowing what the next step is. 

    These step-by-step instructions will help anybody that needs to make a project management plan. 

    Thank you for sharing this great resource. 

    • Hi,

      Being a project manager means you’ll need a solid plan to put into action. Without one, it becomes more challenging to execute on a particular project.

      As you mentioned, there’s a lot of confusion (or missteps) that take place. When that happens, a project can end up being a mess. In my case, it ends up getting very disorganized at the best.

      I’m glad you found these instructions to be helpful. I’m sure it will bring value to others who are project managers themselves.

      Thank you very much for sharing your insights- they’re greatly appreciated.


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