Article

3 Steps to a More Effective Work Plan

by Kelly Anthony

When planning a project, it's easy for all the details to slow you down and complicate the process. Simplifying the planning phase of a project can be a real lifesaver when it comes to keeping your eye on the prize — and help get you there quickly and accurately.

Drawing from the expert insights of Kevin Korterud, here are three easy steps to help improve the efficiency of your next project plan.

Step 1: Design the Work Plan Around the Project Goal

What is the goal of your project? Are you trying to implement a new process across teams, develop a new product or feature, or manage a large scale event?

By defining your desired project outcome as specifically as possible, you can ensure task completion, the orchestration of resources, and creation of deliverables stay on track.

team project planning

Why does this matter? If for example, your project objective is to implement a newly defined process across multiple teams, then team acceptance is a critical component to your success — and your ultimate goal. By organizing your work plan around your team, and not just the process itself, your project will be more successful.

Step 2: Measure What You Need to Know. No More, No Less.

For simple projects, a straightforward percent complete scheme is great for measuring progress. However, when it comes to complex projects you need to measure in more advanced ways.  

working on project plan

Consider using Gantt charts that show dependencies, earned value tracking to ensure precise measurement of progress, and resource management dashboards to show and allocate team availability. This will keep your reports clean, straightforward, and relevant.

Step 3: Practice Resource Management

Projects are powered by people. Your ability to track team availability is critical to sticking to your work plan and ensuring project success. If your project requires 30 people, but only 18 are available to work on it, then your project risks being late or derailed completely.

team reviewing project plan

To avoid resource shortfalls, schedule a fixed time commitment for each person you will need on the team. This ensures you have the right people to complete the work plan, on time and on budget.

Utilizing a resource management tool can show you who’s busy, who’s not, and help you reallocate accordingly.

Easy as One, Two, Three

By aligning your plan with a project goal, matching reporting complexity to your project scope, and using resource management for team scheduling you will build out a more effective work plan for any project.

Whether orchestrating simple tasks or complex portfolio management, learn why project management leaders rely on Smartsheet to align the right people, resources, and schedules to get work done.