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Documenting an Interim Plan

written by: Ronda Bowen • edited by: Marlene Gundlach • updated: 3/25/2013

This article looks at how interim plans are used as project markers. It also answers the questions, "Why are interim plans useful?" and "When should you save interim plans?"

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    What Is It?

    An interim plan only tracks timing for a project. Interim plans are set up after a project begins. An interim plan is opposed to a baseline plan.The baseline groups around twenty primary reference points in the categories of start and finish dates, durations, work, and cost estimates against which actual project progress monitoring occurs. In contrast, interim plans only track current start and finish dates within a project. This allows the project manager to monitor progress compared to the baseline plan.

    Microsoft Project has a built in tool for documenting an interim plan. With MS Project, you can save up to ten interim plans. Read Bright Hub PM's article showing how to save and update a project interim plan using this program.

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    How Does It Perform as a Project Marker?

    Once a baseline plan has been set up, an interim plan can perform as a project marker. It does this by comparing “where the project is" to the “where the project should be." Because the interim plan tracks the current start and finish dates within a project, it serves as a project bookmark holding the current place the project team is at regarding project tasks.

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    Why Are They Useful?

    Interim plans are useful because they can demonstrate, very quickly, how far off course your project might be. This allows you to intervene and keep the project moving forward. Documenting an interim plan is also useful because they provide an updated, at-a-glance look at when the start and finish dates are within a project.These dates are un-muddled by other information baseline plans contain such as durations or cost estimates.

    Interim plans can also be useful for documenting future projects. If you can see how long the actual project took in the past, then you can project how long it is likely to take a similar project in the future.

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    When Should You Save Them?

    An interim plan ought to be of assistance any time your project is one that is complex. Other times that documenting an interim plan might be helpful are when you are fast-tracking your project, utilizing effort-driven scheduling, or are in the midst of a sprint. By putting this valuable tool available in Project to use, you can better monitor and control your project’s progress.