Project Plan vs Project Management Plan

Project Plan vs Project Management Plan
Project Plan vs Project Management Plan

Project Plan vs Project Management Plan

Whether your organization undertakes a small or a large project, it’s important to know that a project cannot be performed without a proper and complete plan. Systematical and precise planning makes easier to track the performance. Project Plan and Project Management Plan refer to two different concepts. Although many organizations use both terms as synonymous to each other, the project plan differs in many ways from the project management plan. In this article, we will discuss these concepts and their key differences from a project management point of view.



Definition of the Concepts

Planning is one of the most important stages of a project’s life cycle so that it should be taken seriously by the project team members. It involves creating various plans that address different needs.

Efficient planning provides many benefits to the organization. Below are some of them;

  • Improves communication and collaboration among stakeholders
  • Expedites client’s response
  • Increases the transparency of work
  • Improves productivity and efficiency of the organization
  • Helps to focus on the objectives, goals, and outputs
  • Helps to optimize resources and costs
  • Helps to complete the tasks on time and budget
  • Improves the quality of the product
  • Eliminates or reduces the risks
  • Enables to track performance
  • Helps to solve the problems effectively
  • Improves decision making
  • Supports all other management functions
  • Improves teamwork
  • Motivates the team and increases their productivity
  • Helps to uncover new ideas

A plan always creates a roadmap that guides the team towards its objectives. Milestones, schedules, subsidiary plans are the fundamental components of the plans. It defines the steps and sequence of activities in a systematical manner.

Some organizations use these concepts synonymously to each other depending on the scale of their projects. However, in some organizations, these terms are used for different purposes.

Now we will discuss them in detail.

Project Plan

A Project Plan is a formal and approved document which is used to guide project control and project execution. It can be conceivable as a work plan which facilitates communication among the stakeholders.



It is a comprehensive document which includes but not limited to the project scope, baseline schedule, budget, planning assumptions and facilitate communication among the stakeholders.

Activities, milestones, resource requirements and major project deliverables are defined in project plans.

This document creates a road map to show all the details in a sequence from the beginning until the end of the project life cycle.

The fundamental inputs of this document are the project scope statement and the project charter.

Simply put, this document answers the below questions.

  • What is the objective of the project?
  • What benefit will the organization expect from the project?
  • What are the outputs and/or deliverables of the project?
  • What are the project start and completion dates?
  • What are the major project milestones?
  • What is the scope of the project?
  • Which technology /method will be used to complete the tasks?

As it is seen from the above questions, this document deals with the “what” part of the project.

Project Management Plan



A Project Management Plan is a formal approved document that describes the project management system used in the implementation phase of the project plan. All the project management inputs are detailed and described at various steps of the project.

Project risk management plan, quality management plan, procurement management plan, transportation management plans etc. are the components of the project management plans.

Simply put, this document answers the below questions.

  • How will the project team carry out the project work?
  • How will the project team manage the scope of the project?
  • How will the project team monitor, control and report the project performance?
  • How will the project team deliver the product?

As it is seen from the above questions, this document deals with the “how” part of the project. Therefore it includes many subsidiaries plans to guide the project team to accomplish the project.

Differences Between the Project Plan and Project Management Plan

As we mentioned above, they are different plans used for different purposes. Below are some of the key differences between them.



  • Project Management Plans answer the question “how” while project plans answer the question “what” and “why”.
  • The project plan details the processes required to perform the project. Therefore it’s detail level is low and it deals with high level planning. On the other hand, the project management plan details the processes required to manage the project. So that it’s detail level is higher.
  • The project plans are visionary documents that focus on the objective of the project. They provide the project manager the vision related to the project stages and steps. On the other hand, the project management plan is an execution document that focuses on the techniques required to achieve the project.
  • In some organizations, these two terms can be merged for small projects. However, in large projects, they are used to refer to different concepts.

Summary



Planning is one of the most important processes in project management. It is difficult to manage a project and track its performance without a comprehensive and complete plan. Poor planning cause delays and extra efforts to recover. Another important benefit of planning is that it improves communication and cooperation within the organization.

In business, many organizations use these concepts as synonymous to each other. However, some organizations use these terms differently. Understanding each concept and having knowledge about their use will help the project managers to become more successful in their business processes.

Both of them are essential documents used for project management. In this article, we discussed both concepts and their key differences from a project management point of view. We hope that it will be useful for professionals and PMP aspirants.

External References

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