A blueprint or project plan serves as a bridge between the ideal and real – its role is to take an option and show how it could be put into action.
By this point, you have shortlisted the options that you plan to explore. And now you will document in detail the tactics and timeline for tackling each option. As a sound blueprint for deployment, you plan should answer the following questions:
- How are you going to implement this?
- What is the scope?
- How long will it take?
- What resources will you need?
- Which parts of the company will be affected?
- How will you manage change?
- How will you measure and communicate the impact?
With an organized, methodical, and disciplined approach, a project blueprint / project plan translates a concept into the real world of resources, implementation schedules, milestones, and metrics. This can be an invaluable asset when it comes to convincing decision makers of the merit of your initiative illustrating that it’s not only desirable, but doable.
There are countless ways to design a plan, but the key goal for any such plan is to capture as many details as possible about what it will take to develop, launch and operate your option.
As you develop your plan, you may discover that you don’t have all the answers yourself. If so, it is a good idea to consider which other functions, business partners, and stakeholders you will want to engage with to understand the full scope and requirements of the implementation.
The list below provides a basic guide for topics to consider when building your blueprint plans, knowing that more will be discovered as you investigate the logistics and uncover new impacts. Organized sequentially, it presents a wide range of development, launch, and operational activities your plan might cover to get you started.
- Defining project objectives and how they connect to the company’s strategy
- Outlining the project scope/parameters (including whether the project will be “internal and/or external,” or “domestic and/or global” etc.)
- Creating a tentative schedule for project completion (will this be a phased rollout or one-time event?)
- Estimating the resources required to perform the project work
- Developing a list of core team members, roles, and responsibilities
- Identifying a project sponsor or champion
- Setting target dates for major deliverables
- Building out a high-level budget
- Scheduling initial kick-off meeting and regular project meetings
- Determining the key metrics to measure progress and ultimate success
- Considering other enterprise initiatives that may impact or overlap with your project
- Assessing the potential risks to the project scope, schedule, and resources
- Identifying key dependencies for success (such as cross-functional partnerships or external resources)
- Expected changes as a result of the implementation and how to manage them
- Developing communications to key stakeholders as needed for all stages of launch
- Developing and implementing training in the new system or process
- Setting up a detailed testing procedure for new system or process
- Understanding the technical/platform requirements of the new solution
- Determining whether or not to “sunset” an existing process/tool
- Considering if other areas of the company, facilities, branches, systems, customer activity or processes will be disrupted during implementation and making transition arrangements
- Step-by-step transitioning from old to new solution, technology or tool
- Sunsetting plans for any existing solution, technology or tool
- Communicating with key audiences/stakeholders
- Resolving issues, troubleshooting, and responding to questions
- Caring for stakeholders, if impacted during transition
- Completing transition to new solution, closing gaps, resolving issues
- Preparing progress updates/communications to key stakeholders
- Delivering ongoing training or support
- Ensuring sustained maintenance and operations
- Continuing to manage change with key stakeholders
- Providing a feedback mechanism for questions and comments
- Holding a debrief meeting for the project (to discuss key learnings)
- Closing out the project
Impact on stakeholders
Depending on your initiative, it may be useful to include in your blueprint specific line items about your strategies to support and manage the stakeholders during each phase of the project.
Since internal and external stakeholders directly and indirectly influence the company’s performance, and the perceived success of your initiative, considering their perspectives and needs is an important part of project planning. Taking time now to specify the types of communications or other activities for each group (as needed) will demonstrate that you are well prepared for implementation of your initiative, and are strategically addressing x factors that may arise.
Allowing for flexibility
A good plan will recognize that not everything can be planned for. In talking about project plans, Emeritus Professor of UC Berkeley Christopher Alexander reminds us that: “Master plans fail because they create totalitarian order, not organic order. They are too rigid; they cannot easily adapt to the natural and unpredictable changes that inevitably arise.”
A project or blueprint plan is a vital tool that sets a definitive path of action, mapping the activities, deadlines, and key milestones that enable you to move ahead. But, it’s important to show the ability to adjust course if needed, and balance focused project management discipline with responsive agility to fluid situations. This will help your audiences feel that you’re prepared not only for the knowns, but for the unknowns.
It’s worth noting that the proposal(s) itself can be an example of this flexibility by functioning as an iterative document that evolves as you progress, benefiting from on-going inputs, in order to maintain its relevance and meaningfulness moving forward.