Do you want to save time and increase efficiency during your next project planning session? Instead of starting from square one, you can utilize a project plan template to outline all the moving parts and action items for your next big idea.
Whether you’re launching a new digital product or revamping your coaching program, a project plan is your one-stop shop for all things project related. Think of your project plan as a map. It guides you through twists and turns and ensures you reach your final goal successfully.
In this guide, we’ll explore the benefits of project planning and show you how to create a project plan template.
Table of contents
We’ve got a guide and template for filling out a project plan for you.
What is a project plan?
A project plan is a working document that organizes and tracks all your necessary project details in one place. Project plans include objectives, tasks, procedures, schedules, and deliverables. No matter the size or scope of your project, a project plan keeps you on track from start to finish.
Project managers, creators, and entrepreneurs use project plans to identify the resources they need to reach a desired end goal. They also help you outline tasks and assign them to the right people on your team. When implemented correctly, these project roadmaps can save you time and significantly boost productivity.
What’s included in a project plan template?
Ever wondered what goes into a project plan? If you’ve never created a formal project plan, you may find the process daunting and time-consuming. This is where templates come in handy. Although there are no required sections, a comprehensive project plan template should always include the projects who, what, how, and why.
Here’s an overview of the critical elements every project plan should include:
|Project overview||Summarizes the project purpose and vision.|
|Goals and objectives||Highlights the specific, measurable results your project plans to achieve.|
|Budget||Defines the monetary and non-monetary resources required to complete the project successfully.|
|Implementation||Outlines who is responsible for each task. This section can also include examples or additional guidance on how to implement a task correctly.|
|Tasks||Details each specific task you need to complete within the project.|
|Project schedule||Maps out the project timeline with clear start and end dates as well as individual task deadlines.|
|Status||Indicates the completion status of tasks and key project deliverables.|
|Team members||Highlights every team member working on the project including their individual designations and duties.|
|Communication plan||Outlines the best approach for communicating with other team members or stakeholders involved in the project.|
How to create a project plan in six steps
Ready to start building your first project plan? Follow these six steps to begin the process of mapping out all the moving parts of your next big launch.
1. Define your goals and objectives
Start by asking yourself what you hope to gain or accomplish at the end of your project. Then, outline the primary goals you want to achieve. Your project goals should closely align with your business’s short and long-term needs.
When writing out your project goals, follow the S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting framework. Make sure all your goals are:
- S = Specific
- M = Measurable
- A = Achievable
- R = Relevant
- T = Time-Bound
2. Detail how you’ll measure progress and success
What does success look like for your project? How will you measure it? The best project plans include a section that details how you’ll measure progress and success.
For example, what metrics will you use if you’re planning to create your first online course? It could be total enrollments, profits, or student engagement rates. Remember, whatever goals you’ve set need a corresponding metric to track performance.
3. Outline all the tasks and deliverables
Now that you’ve outlined your goals and measures for success, it’s time to get specific. What tasks and deliverables do you need to complete? Think of tasks as individual to-do’s. Deliverables are the items you produce after completing tasks, like a new graphic or video for your course. Identify all tasks and deliverables you need to achieve your goals and add them to your project plan. For content, consider using content buckets to help organize all your ideas.
4. Identify who’s responsible for the implementation
If you work with a team, look at everyone’s availability and determine the people that will contribute to your project. Then, assign each team member to the tasks in their department or area of expertise. By clearly defining the implementation strategy, you’ll eliminate confusion and set clear expectations for everyone.
5. Prioritize tasks
A project plan should outline all tasks in order of importance. When you prioritize your tasks, you eliminate distractions and increase productivity. You can easily rank the importance of the task with standard terms like high, medium, and low.
If you and your team are more visual, consider adding color-coded fields to the Priority section to indicate each task’s level of importance. Whenever someone jumps into the plan, they’ll know exactly what to focus their attention on.
6. Set project milestones
Project milestones are a great way to track the progress of your project timeline. As you create your project plan, map out the expected milestones you’ll hit along the way. For example, if you are launching a new ebook, one milestone might be completing the e-book outline. Once you’ve hit that milestone, you will launch into the next phase (e.g., designing the ebook in Canva).
How to use the project plan template
If you do a quick Google search, you’ll find hundreds of project plan templates. From Gantt charts to agile project plan templates, there is something for every type of business. Skip the hassle of building a plan from the ground up. Instead, use a project plan template to save time (and headaches) during your next planning session.
We’ve put together a sample template below to help you get started. Use this template’s pre-filled section prompts to organize your project plan and store all the nitty gritty details. Include as many specifics as possible in each section. And don’t be afraid to adapt or customize the template to fit your project’s unique needs.
Why does project planning matter?
Project planning is more than just tasks and due dates. A well-thought-out project plan manages individual tasks and big-picture strategy.
With the right plan, you can easily manage your time, accomplish big goals, and scale your business. Project planning can also help you become a better leader. When you clearly communicate objectives and assignments, your team is more likely to feel aligned and motivated to achieve success.
Here are a few more reasons why project planning can be a game-changer for your business.
Improve team collaboration
A project planning document ensures that everyone on your team has a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities.
It also clues them into what others are doing, so no one’s left wondering, “was I supposed to do that?”. Project plans improve team communication. Everyone gets to share their knowledge, participate in various challenges, and work as a team.
Plan and prepare for the future
A project plan outlines the entire planning and execution process. This document helps you identify goals and prepare a schedule to achieve them. With clear goals and outcomes in mind, you can prioritize what needs to be accomplished week after week. You can also use project plans to determine your capacity now and in the future.
Allocate resources efficiently
There are only so many hours in a day. As a business owner, you have to work hard to stay organized and manage your time and resources effectively. A project plan helps you identify team bandwidth, workload, and budgets. That way, you’ll know in advance what (and who) you need to complete a project and accomplish your larger business goals.
By tracking all project details in one place, you can easily see which project areas are lagging and manage roadblocks. Nothing falls through the cracks, and everyone is aligned on how to optimize project performance.
A project management plan can help you mitigate risks or avoid them with a backup plan. There are many risks that a project may encounter, including cost, performance, and bandwidth issues. These risks can be identified in a project plan before you start. You and your team can prepare strategies to overcome them before they interfere with your goals or damage the quality of your work.
Start planning your first project
Now that you have the tools and templates you need to create a project plan, it’s time to start planning. Set aside time to brainstorm and strategize how you will bring your next big idea to life. Then, put your plan into motion by using the project planning template above. With the right plan, you’ll be able to launch any new product or service to your audience with ease.