Transformation Project Plans are an essential part of life in the corporate world. To keep your business competitive and responsive to changes in your industry and in the economy as a whole, a large-scale enterprise transformation program may be necessary to drive growth and help you maintain your strategic position. However, the challenges of such wide-ranging and extensive transformation projects can be monumental, and many such programs end up coming in over budget while still failing to meet an organization’s needs. A comprehensive and detailed transformation project plan will help position an enterprise for success while embarking on any business transformation program.

What are Transformation Project Plans?

Simply put, transformation project plans are documents that are designed to outline a project’s scope, objective, and strategy for execution. Particularly for IT projects, the term is often used to refer specifically to a Gantt chart that illustrates the project’s schedule visually along a timeline. However, such charts are only one aspect of the kind of comprehensive project plan that is needed, especially for enterprise transformation programs. A successful project plan will define the key stakeholders in the project, outline the available budget and resources, anticipate risks that could arise, assign duties and responsibilities, create a timeline and define the desired quality standards of the finished deliverables.

The Value and Importance of Transformation Project Plans

Crafting and enacting a thorough and comprehensive project plan does entail costs for an organization in both time and money, but the potential gains from doing so far outweigh this expense. Particularly for a project as wide-ranging and fundamentally important as enterprise transformation, the value of a robust project plan cannot be overstated.

First, any large-scale transformation project will necessarily affect the entire organization, and getting employees at all levels on board with the changes is critical to the project’s success. Communicating the planned changes and their expected benefits through the use of a project plan is vital to winning the support of key individuals that are integral to the project’s success.

However, the challenges of such wide-ranging and extensive transformation projects can be monumental, and many such programs end up coming in over budget while still failing to meet an organization’s needs.

Second, all IT projects need to be driven by data-based decisions and quantifiable metrics to ensure the best and most efficient results, and enterprise-level projects demand this level of sophistication all the more. A project plan can help propel these evaluations and establish procedures for analyzing results.

Lastly, producing a high-quality solution that fits the needs of your organization is hard to achieve unless you’ve investigated and evaluated what is expected and required from your enterprise transformation program before the start of work, and a strong project plan can help you do so.

The Structure of a Successful Project Plan

At the core, transformation project plans must answer several key questions about the program to be successful: why is the project happening, what are the major deliverables, who needs to be involved and at what stages of the process, and when are the key project milestones? To answer these question, detailed and comprehensive project plans will include several key documents.

First, you need to establish baselines or performance measures for the project to gain approval from key stakeholders and to keep track of whether the project is progressing correctly at all stages. Typically, you will need to craft baseline documents for the scope, cost, and schedule of the project.

Second, once you have determined your baseline metrics, you need to document how variances will be handled throughout the stages of the project using baseline management plans. These important documents will establish what the project team should do when changes to the project’s baselines invariably occur.

Lastly, a comprehensive planning process will include documentation that aims to keep all key stakeholders informed, and that looks to anticipate the needs of the project along the various stages of the timeline. Other critical work documents include a procurement plan that anticipates the materials needed, a risk management plan that seeks to predict and plan around any project hurdles, a staffing plan that outlines who is responsible for what project elements and a communications plan that aims to keep everyone abreast of the project’s developments.

Best Practices for Transformation Project Planning

The sheer size and scope of a project plan for an enterprise transformation program can seem overwhelming. However, if your organization keeps certain principles in mind and seeks to follow best practices, the task can go much more smoothly.

First, do not set out to write a project plan before conducting adequate due diligence and thorough research into your team members, your clients and all of the affected elements of your business. Because your project plan needs to anticipate all issues that may arise over the course of the program, you need to arm yourself with as much knowledge about your organization as possible.

Second, hold a kickoff meeting at the start of the project. Such a meeting can help bring all of your stakeholders together before any work is undertaken, allowing trust to be built between team members and ensuring that everyone’s concerns and ideas are heard.

Lastly, you need to be prepared to keep planning. Change is inevitable throughout the course of any large-scale transformation process, and the ability to adapt to challenges is key to the success of any project plan and the underlying enterprise transformation program. If you have prepared a robust project plan from the beginning, however, this ongoing planning process should be a snap.

Research shows most transformation projects fail or underperform. Hence, a well-thought out transformation project plans may help mitigate the failure risk – at least a little bit.