The Importance of Project Plans

Yes, a project can be implemented without a plan in place, but that makes knowing where you are in the process complicated. A project plan doesn’t have to be a 2,500 to 5,000 line document that becomes so unwieldy you need a whole crew of PMO staff to manage it, report on it, and direct people. However, a plan that flows from start to finish can help you avoid missed processes, missed deadlines and misunderstanding.

I’ve been on many projects where everyone knows that training is required, but somehow they end up just a few weeks out with no training tools in place, no documents, and all the last-minute distractions of going live getting in the way. Next thing you know, they are live but users don’t what to do, or something non-routine happens and everyone is struggling to get complete. The project was a success but when users are not adequately prepared, it creates unnecessary struggles and difficulties. Oracle ERP systems are well designed and a project plan will unify everything together so this excellent system can be utilized well by its users.

Personally, I like plans that flow from beginning to end, and can be linked to other documents in your SharePoint or other repository. I suggest having sections that cover DBA, Development (custom code, etc.) and functional steps. Each of these sections can also have a more detailed plan, such as a list of patches or schedules for development of code, interfaces and reports.

A project plan should have sections that cover testing—multiple rounds of course—and training. Finally, include a rows in the plan representing needed sign offs and make sure to have a high level cutover section to give to management, and the team, again so there are no misunderstandings about what is to happen. Configurations should be noted by application, but keep the details in a separate document. As for cutover, that’s a plan unto itself—possibly hundreds of lines long, with every step of the process documented, down to the minute. Whenever I have a cutover weekend with that much detail, the project is always successful.

All of this might sound daunting, but with the right project management and an experienced group of consultants like OnPlan Consulting, the heavy lifting can be handled for you, so you’ll be well prepared to move forward and be successful during cutover and beyond.