In large enterprises with hundreds or thousands of capital projects, it is important to create standards to which all projects must adhere. This provides the organization the ability to roll up and assess overall project performance across the organization as well as look at resource capacity and other key performance indicators.
We recently worked with an organization that deployed Primavera P6 and needed to define these standards. They started with answering the basic question of what a project plan looked like to them.
The Basics Of A Project Plan
All projects are described within a document that defines the project’s objectives and scope. The project plan is mandated and is prepared in Primavera P6. The plan provides a structured statement of how and when the project’s objectives are to be achieved by showing the products to be delivered, activities to be completed and resources required. It is used to define the cost of the project over time. This provides the basis for the project budget through integration of the Primavera P6 plan with Oracle Projects (the project accounting tool).
A project plan is the:
- Enterprise Planning Structure (EPS)
- Work breakdown structure (WBS)
- Work packages
- Sequence of events necessary to deliver the project’s objectives
- Activities and milestones
- Logic and time schedule
- Includes risk treatment
- Vehicle for planning the resources required and the cost of delivery
- All chargeable resources and other scarce/critical resources
- Contract spend
- Time-phased cost profile
- Baseline against which performance is measured
- Mechanism for determining progress, costs and forecasts
- Internal and contractor cost of work done
- Schedule and cost performance (Earned Value)
- Anticipated final cost
- Means by which the business can assess and analyze a collective view across all its projects
The plan covers the full scope of the project and can extend over several years. A baseline of the plan and its associated cost profile is authorized in Oracle Projects by stages according to the organization’s project life-cycle and the requirements of the relevant funding authority. The baseline provides an agreed reference for schedule and cost against which performance can be measured. Forecasts of the project schedule and cost provide visibility of the anticipated outcome.
While most of this seems pretty rudimentary, it is surprising how many organizations have significant gaps in their project management processes, particularly at the more detailed level. While defining what a project should contain and how it is planned may be an obvious place to start, organizations often miss other processes in the project life-cycle. These gaps can allow well-intentioned users to diverge from company standards. This can cause many problems including hampering the efforts to provide accurate consolidated views across the organizations portfolio of projects.