Think of your favorite adventure story. Whether that’s The Lord of the Rings or Spirited Away, they all share one thing in common: an overarching mission — with tasks along the way, and (hopefully) a plan to guide the hero through to their goal.
Similarly, when you embark upon a new project — whether that’s renovating a house or designing a new app — that same sense of structure and momentum will help keep things on track. This is where a work plan comes in handy.
A work plan is a document that maps out the route to your goal. It includes things like budgets and resources, as well as schedules and constraints. It’s a shared effort between you, often your team members, and almost always stakeholders — who you’ll need for buy-in.
Here’s everything you need to know about creating your first work plan, including how to get it approved and what to after your project is complete. Let’s dive in.
What is a work plan?
A work plan is a formal document that contains key steps that move you toward accomplishing a goal. It includes budgets, resources, deadlines, milestones, and a timeline. It’s usually reserved for bigger projects, but you can use a pared-back version for smaller tasks.
It’s a guiding document that helps everyone collaborate toward achieving the end goal. Before we take a look at how to create one, let’s quickly run through some key terms.
The goal describes the thing you want to achieve. For example, rebrand your business, create an app, or increase profits.
The strategy is the route you’ll take to achieving your goal. For example, if your goal was to rebrand, it could include designing a new logo, defining a new tone of voice, and creating a new mission statement.
Your objectives are deliverables that are set out in your strategy. They should be defined clearly, with deadlines and measurable factors. Setting these out helps you stay on track and measure progress.
Tactics are techniques you’ll use to help you achieve specific objectives. For example, if your goal is to increase the number of visitors to your website, tactics might include keyword research, SEO blog posts, PPC advertising, and so on.
Why use a work plan?
A work plan can help you stay on track and organize yourself. It’s also helpful for momentum: Having a document that maps out every stage of your project holds you and other team members accountable for key milestones, which comes in additionally handy for interim meetings, when you need to explain your progress to stakeholders and senior management.
Work plan example (image source)
How to create a work plan
Creating a work plan can be a little time-consuming. But you know the drill: The more time you invest up-front, the smoother your project will be — so it pays to set some time aside to get it right.
1. Work out the ‘why’
Before you begin your worksheet, you’ll need to establish your goal. Or, in other words, define why it is you’re doing what you’re doing.
The why is central to everything. This is your goal, your quest, the reason your project exists in the first place. Try to condense this into an elevator pitch-style sentence or two, which you can put at the start (or at the top) ofContinue reading