Planning a project: Part 1

Recently, I added some old project plans to the toolkit, which hadn’t transferred over from the platform. As I copied and pasted the text over, I remembered how useful I’d found the templates and reflected on how I could use them in my new team to plan and record upcoming projects. We have 2 templates on the toolkit, the Project plan template and the Case study template. I have used both templates for a number of projects and they provide great prompts to scope a new project and to reflect on the impact of a completed project. Part 1 will consider the project plan template and Part 2 will consider the case study template (2 posts for the price of one!).

The Project plan template has been adapted and refined since the MAP began in 2008. Initially, we found the template to be too long, but now some people might think it does not include enough detail. The template is very much intended to be a basic planning tool, but please feel free to use it and adapt locally for your needs. I’m a great believer in making something fit, don’t stick to the format if it doesn’t work for you.

The template is structured under the following headings and includes some guidance notes to help you:

  • Project title
  • Project team
  • Resources required
  • Expected timeframe
  • Description of product/service/project
  • Alignment to local/national and regional drivers
  • Intended outcome
  • Next steps

It includes some of the same sections as the case study template which helps to evaluate impact or success. What it doesn’t provide is the opportunity to develop a detailed project plan and this may be a gap in the MAP toolkit. We have project plans and case studies which bookmark either side of a project, but there is a void in terms of examples of detailed project plans and ongoing evaluation. This is something that we would like to develop, so if you have any examples that you are willing to share, please get in touch.

The tool is very useful for scoping a project and starting to think about what you hope to achieve. Just getting your ideas down on paper can provide real clarity. I personally find that without some form of a plan from the outset, projects can end up taking too long, may fail before they get started, don’t specify what “success” looks like and can end up costing more than anticipated. This tool provides space for you to really think about these things before you get started by helping you to think about what resources you need, to identify useful contacts or partners and to be clearly linked to organisational, NHS and Library objectives right from the beginning. All of this can be really useful information which you can tap into at any point during the project should you need to influence others or apply for funding. I always like to look back over these as well to see how projects have moved on as sometimes a small project can have a greater impact than originally anticipated.

Thanks to Victoria Treadway for her comments.

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