Project Work Plan - ENGINEERING MANAGEMENT

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What is a Project work Plan? The workplan is a document that consulting firms use to organize a project. It outlines the plan by which...

Project Work Plan

What is a Project work Plan?

The workplan is a document that consulting firms use to organize a project. It outlines the plan by which the company plans to complete a quality project within a given amount of time and in compliance with a set budget.
A written work plan, based upon a reliable process, is well worth the effort needed to develop it. It provides assurance that expectations are clear and reflected in the approach the firm will take to the project. It identifies the specific people and other resources needed to do the work. It also provides information for the proposal and the Owner-A/E agreement.

Given the wide variation in project types and circumstances, some work plans are terse and straightforward; others are more complicated and emerge only after several rounds of discussion and negotiation. Some work plans may be on a handwritten page; others may be of many pages.

The work plan is developed as soon as practical and preferably before agreements are negotiated or at least before substantial work begins. A work plan should be structured and formatted in standard ways. This ensures that critical project information is presented in both comprehensive and consistent ways from one project to the next—an asset for the project staff, sub-consultants, and clients, as well as the Project Manager.

The plan should include, as a minimum, the following:

  • a brief description of the project 
  • a description of how the project differs from similar projects 
  • a summary of the project goals along with the client's input
  • any approval requirements 
  • a discussion of how the project is to be handled 
  • a discussion of the process 
  • a few sketches, rough plans, and/or elevations
The work plan will also include a budget and schedules. The use of CPM or other management tools may also be employed and discussed. Many such tools are available, ranging from the simple to the complex.

A work plan can be simple, perhaps one page is written in longhand or a comprehensive plan. The latter activity will cost money, and dollars will have to be built into the project fee to pay for its preparation.

A few suggestions for preparing work plans are:

  • Involve the other people that will be working on the project. 
  • Resist the temptation to over plan. 
  • Resist the temptation to under plan. 
  • Use a work plan to gain commitments. 
  • Involve the owner. 
  • Involve sub-consultants. 
  • Outline essential tasks needed to complete the project, and designate who will be responsible for completing each task.
  • Document the concept of the project (if it has not already been done). 
  • Document subtle aspects of the project that may become a problem.
Scheduling can begin when all tasks have been identified and time established for their completion.

Steps toward a work plan: 

  • Start by defining a logical sequence of project tasks including revisions and approvals. 
  • Diagram the sequence of tasks, using bar charts or cards, so that participants can clearly see each activity. 
  • Assign reasonable durations for each task. (You cannot expect miracles.) 
  • Combine individual tasks to develop major phases.

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