Do I Really Need a Project Plan for a Small Project?
So they assigned you a small project to straighten up the supply room. Only two of you are going to work on it. It shouldn’t take more than two weeks. Everybody’s talking about how you need to get this one out of the way so the company can start the really important projects. These factors create the temptation to quickly begin work without a project plan because it’s just a small project. You’ll “plan as we go,” and get this little project out of the way. Besides, the sponsor and everybody else who even knows about this will be very happy if you start quickly. They say, “Hell, you know how to straighten up the supply room so just get started!” But starting fast without a plan is always the wrong thing to do.
Is the Project Plan for a Small Project the Same As the Plan for a Big Project?
The plan for a small project is very different from the plan for a large project. The project plan for the effort described above will fit on one side of a piece of paper. It will contain just these elements:
- the project scope defined by an acceptance criteria
- the resources required to deliver that scope
- the major risks
- the project constraints
- the sponsor’s and stakeholders’ sign offs
Let’s talk about these elements one at a time. Why do you need the project scope? It would be foolish to begin work without having the sponsor’s agreement on the deliverable you have to produce. So you go to the boss and say, “I need to get the scope of this project pinned down.”
The boss gives a sigh of exasperation and looks up at the ceiling before saying to you, “Clean up the office supply room. I’m wasting way too much time dealing with people’s complaints about it.”
What Is the Rest of the Small Project Plan?
The rest of your small project plan is specifying the high-level deliverables. On this project, they might include setting a reorder point for every item and keeping track of the withdrawals from the supply room.
Then you do a rough estimate of the amount of work that you and your assistant have to do. That might be 20 hours.
Next you identify the constraints on the project. They might be a budget of $5,000 and a duration (completion date) of 2 weeks from the start date. You and your assistant combined can work on the project 10 hours a week.
Then you identify the risks the project faces. They might include lack of cooperation from people in signing out what they take out of the supply room.
Finally, you ask the boss and possibly some of the affected department heads to sign off on your small project plan. Then you start work.
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