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The Project Execution Plan (PEP) is the primary document that defines how the project will be undertaken. It details the specific activities in the project, the resources applied to the project, and the organization of the project.
The major elements of a project execution plan are:
- Scope definition
- Goal statements
- Quality and technical specifications
- Resource allocation
- Project scheduling
- Organizational considerations
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
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Scope definition entails defining what the project intends to achieve in specific terms. For instance, if the aim of the project is to “upgrade the information technology infrastructure in the organization" the scope definition in the project execution plan example translates this broad and vague objective into a specific scope based on output, as “to provide a new computer on every desk, with all appropriate software installed and ready to operate, and each computer linked through a network."
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Statement of Goals
The statement of goals lists out specific project requirements such as key project deliverables, milestones, and the project life cycle.
The goal statement also explains:
- Why the project is carried out, the purpose served by the project, and the expected benefits from the project
- The unique challenges that the project overcomes.
- The risks associated with the project and how the project plan will overcome such risks.
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Quality and Technical Specifications
While the project scope and statement of goals make clear the output of the project, one important element that needs inclusion in the project execution plan is quality or technical specifications of the work processes and output. The achievement of such stipulated standards determine the successful execution of the project.
The parameters of quality and technical specifications include the use of:
- Clear and precise definitions for concepts and terms.
- Measurable descriptions. For instance, “latest computers" are not measurable, whereas “computers with 2GB of memory" is a measurable quality standard.
- Attainable standards. For instance, “upgrade all the computers in the office to Dual Core Processors and 2 GB memory within two weeks" is an attainable goal, but “upgrade all the computers in the office to Dual Core and 2 GB memory overnight to ensure non-interrupted service" may be impossible in large companies
- Time bound definitions. For instance, “upgrade the computers soon" is vague, whereas “upgrade the computers within two weeks" is a precise and time bound specification.
The level of quality desired in the project usually depends on the project budget, which is usually determined by the customer.
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Allocation of Resources
The elements of scope, goals, and quality define in clear terms what the project hopes to achieve. The next element of a project execution plan is the allocation of resources to achieve the stated goals and quality standards.
Resources include staff with knowledge or skill sets, money to buy equipment, and time considerations.
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Scheduling the project is a very important element in a project execution plan. The best approach is to divide the project into small units or chunks and set time bound milestones of achievements, mutually acceptable to all stakeholders. The best examples of preparing a project schedule are Gantt Charts that list what will happen and when. Of the various project scheduling techniques, the Critical Path Method (CPM) and PERT charts are two of the best techniques. Bright Hub offers an excellent article on how to create PERT charts in Microsoft Excel.
One important consideration with project scheduling is the need to be ready for exceptions. In practice, schedules rarely stick to their planned courses and go awry owing to many reasons such as late supply of input data or raw materials, disruptions in resources, faulty planning, underestimating the time requires, and forced changes to the schedule owing to external factors. The project manager needs to make floor level adjustments to return the schedule to track. Very often, meeting agreed delivery schedules require project acceleration by working tasks in parallel modes. This depends on the state on dependencies, or the extent to which the start of one function depends on the completion of another task; using the Critical Path Method will help you illustrate this better.
Another important consideration when scheduling projects is setting tolerances for risks, quality standards, budgets, and even deadlines. This does away with the need to continually seek guidance from the customer.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
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One important but often overlooked element of the project execution plan is organizational considerations. This entails:
- Details of the project manager and other key personnel responsible for different aspects of the project, with their duties and responsibilities.
- Decision making authority for specific components of the project.
- The reporting relationships of the project team members.
- The general approach of undertaking the project, whether the project gets a dedicated team, whether a matrix type of organizational structure is adopted, or any other model.
- Method of coordination and reporting.
- Method of project monitoring and status updates.
A properly crafted project execution plan is the foundation to a successful project.
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- Trevor Roberts. "Project Plans: 10 Essential Elements." Retrived from http://www.projectsmart.co.uk/project-plans-10-essential-elements.html on 21 November 2010.
- "Guidelines for a Project Execution Plan." Retrieved from http://www.theostrich.co.uk/Project%20Execution%20Plan.pdf on 21 November 2010
- "How to Develop a Project Execution Plan." [PDF] Retrieved from www.mustangeng.com/AboutMustang/Publications/.../AIG1_mustang.pdf on 21 November 2010.