Crafting a Project Execution Plan (PEP) in 6 simple steps

Ryan Forsythe, Content Marketing Specialist, Moxo

Improper planning, poor communication, and conflicting expectations often lead to project failures. To mitigate these issues, a project execution plan is an invaluable tool that significantly increases the chances of success. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive understanding of what a project execution plan entails, how it operates, and how to craft one effectively. By equipping yourself and your team with this collaborative tool, you can ensure a seamless and efficient project journey from start to finish.

What is a project execution plan?

A Project Execution Plan (PEP) serves as a comprehensive document that outlines the project's scope, along with quality, technical, and contractual specifications. It also includes resource allocation and delegation, budgeting, project timelines, goal-based scheduling, and communication plans among team members. These plans are considered dynamic documents that should be updated throughout the project to provide an accurate and valuable project baseline.

All this information is consolidated into a reusable, reader-friendly, and concise project execution plan template. This template can be tailored to specific projects, whether they are research-based, engineering-focused, software-related, contracting-oriented, or any other subdivision of work. Essentially, a PEP serves as a game plan — a meticulously outlined roadmap that ensures all project stakeholders are aligned toward a common goal for successful project execution.

A well-defined project execution strategy is crucial, especially for larger projects. It ensures that project deliverables, which often involve multiple contributors, align with the expectations of the program manager and the client's quality assurance assumptions. Additionally, a Project Execution Plan (PEP) serves as a comprehensive implementation guide, outlining the project execution phase and determining the final product's form, whether it be a presentation, research article, or project report.

Alternatively, a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) provides a more task-oriented approach, efficiently dividing projects into manageable deliverable pieces based on the team members' responsibilities. Consider which approach best suits your team's needs and assists in bridging any execution gaps within your integrated project team.

Why is a project execution plan necessary?

A key advantage of a Project Execution Plan (PEP) is that it ensures all participants within your group are well-informed about schedule baselines, scope baselines, and other project specifications. This shared understanding helps unite the group around a common goal, with the PEP serving as the primary communication tool for project details and timelines. Consider implementing a PEP for larger, more complex projects, particularly if you have divided the project into smaller deliverables for your team. Essentially, a PEP acts as a safeguard against misunderstandings, minimizing variables.

It is crucial to engage project stakeholders in discussions regarding the PEP to establish clear expectations for total project cost estimates, parameters, and other high-level constraints. Incorporating the cost baseline of your PEP into your project scope is recommended. By aligning your project controls and plans with stakeholders' requirements, you can avoid miscommunications that may necessitate major, disruptive changes in the future.

What goes into a project execution plan?

Several key components contribute to the success and optimal performance of a PEP (Project Execution Plan).

1. Project scope

The project scope outlines the essential components of your Project Execution Plan (PEP). Typically, it encompasses details such as project description, objectives, resource allocation, budget, constraints, assumptions, project timeline, procurement strategies, and success metrics. It is crucial for your team and project sponsors to have a shared understanding and agreed-upon expectations.

To clarify the scope, it is equally important to define what is not included in the project. By explicitly stating what will be omitted in your PEP, you provide clear parameters for your project team to work within. This helps prevent scope creep and the addition of unnecessary tasks during the planning and design phases.

2. Project goals

In your Project Execution Plan (PEP), it is crucial to establish clear goals, purpose, completion criteria, and success metrics. Success is often measured against Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) outlined in the final deliverable. For instance, if the goal is to conduct market-based research for business establishment, it is agreed between you and the project stakeholder that the findings of this research will be presented in a comprehensive written deliverable of approximately two thousand words. In this example, we have effectively defined the requirements, outlined the characteristics of the final deliverable, established completion criteria, and clarified the ultimate objective.

3. Technical requirements

Once you have established the overarching goal, you can further refine it by adding concrete and measurable specifics, as well as clear definitions. This section serves as the detailed essence of your PEP. Building upon our previous example of the importance of market-based research, we can expand on the idea that this research should encompass tracking purchasing trends within a specific timeframe or conducting surveys. It is crucial to include a deadline and project milestones to effectively monitor your progress. Additionally, technical requirements, such as the format of the final deliverable, word count, and the information to be included, should also be specified.

4. Resource allocation

Resource allocation involves the meticulous refinement and specification of the necessary person-hours and tangible resources for your project. Consider the various resources that will be required, including staff members, any specialized knowledge or skills that may be needed by your team, time constraints, available equipment for specific tasks, and any allocated finances for acquiring additional tools or equipment. By carefully addressing these factors, you can ensure efficient utilization of resources and successful project execution.

5. Project schedule and timelines

Project timelines can be broadly categorized into two main aspects: the deadline for the final deliverable and the inclusion of project milestones, as mentioned earlier. These two components are interconnected and mutually informative. By delegating tasks among your team and effectively allocating resources, your project can operate as multiple smaller projects that run in parallel towards a common goal. To ensure a comprehensive overview of progress, consider implementing cross-team milestones with relevant key performance indicators (KPIs). By incorporating these cross-team milestones, project leaders can foster enthusiasm and camaraderie among the team members responsible for delegated tasks.

Crafting an effective project execution plan (In 6 simple steps)

To begin crafting your Project Execution Plan (PEP), follow these six essential steps:

1. Gather feedback from the team

Clear communication and well-defined expectations are crucial for the successful execution of any project. Establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to monitor progress, consider each team member's skills and knowledge, and create an efficient workflow. Before finalizing your PEP, take into account the needs and expectations of your team. Throughout the project, actively collect feedback to refine and improve the process.

2. Start with the end goals in mind

A helpful approach is to work backwards from your end goals to establish well-defined objectives. By taking this perspective, you gain a broader understanding of how each task and purpose aligns to create the final product.

3. Define major milestones

Setting major milestones allows your team to track progress and timing throughout the project. Assign deadlines to these milestones and estimate the resources required for each. This ensures that you can identify any tasks that are taking longer than expected and make necessary adjustments to your PEP and plans. Engage your team in defining these milestones to foster enthusiasm and camaraderie among project groups.

4. Break down tasks into subtasks

When establishing your milestones, delegate subtasks among different groups to distribute the workload effectively. Clearly define the responsibilities of each group to avoid duplication of effort and enhance productivity.

5. Foster cross functional team collaboration

In addition to promoting strong communication between project groups and leaders, encourage cross-team collaboration. Schedule regular meetings and check-ins to facilitate discussions and ensure that major milestones are met. This collaborative approach enables a shared problem-solving mindset and helps overcome potential roadblocks.

6. Appoint a project manager

For larger projects with extensive scopes and multiple teams, consider assigning a project manager. A project manager can facilitate communication, provide guidance on timelines, monitor resource usage, and assist in task delegation. However, not all projects require a project manager, particularly smaller teams working closely on more manageable projects.

By following these steps, you can create an effective Project Execution Plan that sets your project up for success.

Executive summary

An executive summary serves as a project execution plan, providing a unified template that clarifies the ultimate goal and expectations for all parties involved - yourself, your team, and your client. By establishing a well-defined outline, you can effectively guide the project at each step, ensuring that the goals and objectives are clearly articulated in a readily accessible document. A project takes form by setting parameters and is executed through purpose-driven objectives outlined in a Project Execution Plan (PEP).

Facilitate project planning and client communication with Moxo

Moxo is a cutting-edge customer portal solution that empowers you to provide clients with a unified hub for messaging, file-sharing, eSignatures, task management through workflows, forms, and more. With Moxo, you can craft a tailor-made client experience that enhances your brand in every customer interaction. To explore how Moxo can streamline project execution,  get in touch with us here.