A project plan, according to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, is
- "...a formal, approved document used to guide both project execution and project control. The primary uses of the project plan are to document planning assumptions and decisions, facilitate communication among stakeholders, and document approved scope, cost, and schedule baselines. A project plan may be summarized or detailed."
- "...a statement of how and when a project's objectives are to be achieved, by showing the major products, milestones, activities and resources required on the project."
In some industries, particularly information technology, the term "project plan" can refer to a Gantt chart or other document that shows project activities along a timeline. While common, this use is inaccurate. These types of documents are more accurately described as "project schedules" and are only one component of a true project plan.
At a minimum, a project plan answers basic questions about the project:
- Why? - What is the problem or value proposition addressed by the project? Why is it being sponsored?
- What? - What is the work that will be performed on the project? What are the major products/deliverables?
- Who? - Who will be involved and what will be their responsibilities within the project? How will they be organized?
- When? - What is the project timeline and when will particularly meaningful points, referred to as milestones, be complete?
To be a complete project plan according to industry standards such as the PMBOK or PRINCE2, the project plan must also describe the execution, management and control of the project. This information can be provided by referencing other documents that will be produced, such as a Procurement Plan or Construction Plan, or it may be detailed in the project plan itself.
- ^ PMBOK, 2000 Edition