Posted by: kerrywills | July 15, 2011

It’s a plan, not a grocery list

Creating a project plan is an art; it really is. A plan should be a facilitated inventory of all deliverables with associated activities organized in such a way as to be tracked and communicated at a granular level. Let’s look at each of those components…

  1. A facilitated inventory – The PM should gather all information from the team who should be the expert in the project. This also involves them and gives the team a sense of ownership over the plan
  2. Deliverables and associated activities – Plans should be organized around deliverables and activities to perform the work
  3. Organizated in such a way as to track – Deliverables should have milestones that are able to be tracked. This does not mean having 40 day long tasks. Milestones should be 5-10 days and able to be tracked
  4. Communicated – A plan has to be organized logically and be clean so a project manager can communicate it effectively to the team

I have seen many plans which just look like grocery lists in that they just list out everything that needs to be done. They are not organized, sequenced or shown at a detailed level. This makes them hard to monitor status, hard to communicate to the team and hard to obtain status.

Is this a good project plan?

Now how come I can make stunning project plans and manage several hundred activities, but I always forget something at the Grocery store? Go figure.


  1. Excellent blog, Kerry.

  2. “Organizated?” LOL!!! Well, we knew what you meant – nice rant.

  3. […] Kerry Wills rants, “It’s a plan, not a grocery […]

  4. It also helps to include the team on the ultimate purpose of the project and how it contributes value to the organization. Those ideas are much more important during the request phase of the project, when the whole endeavour is being reviewed by the stakeholders, sponsors and managers. However, sharing them down the road with the project team helps members better understand why they’re doing the work, and get them invested in its importance.

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