Project Plan vs Project Management Plan

project plan vs project management planA few months back while I was attending a seminar, during the conversation with other project professionals suddenly a topic came up for discussion. The topic was “Are the project plan and project management plan the same?”

The discussion led us to some interesting facts, which I’m going to share with you along with my own research on the topic.

The main conclusion that came out of the discussion was that there was no standard definition on the difference between the project plan and project management plan. It basically depends on the organization where you work.

An organization may decide to stick with only one term, either the project plan or project management plan. It may also use both terms as synonyms to each other.

Another organization may choose to use both terms differently. For these organizations, the project plan and project management plan are different and used for different purposes.
Anyway, let’s discuss these two plans in detail.

Project Plan

In some organizations this plan is also referred to as a work plan.
Simply put, you can say that the project plan is a formal approved document used to broadly guide the project, and facilitate communication among the stakeholders. The project plan takes its objective from the project charter and the scope statement.
The project plan speaks in general, for example:

  • Why is the project undertaken?
  • What value will it add to the organization?
  • What will the output or deliverables of the project be?
  • Who will be involved in the project?
  • What is the deadline?
  • What are the milestones?
  • What is the scope, budget and schedule?
  • What technology is going to be used to accomplish the task?

Project Management Plan

On the other hand, the project management plan is a formal approved document that guides you precisely on how you are going to get things done. For example:

  • How will the project work be carried out?
  • How will the scope be managed?
  • How will you monitor and control the various project activities?
  • How will you deliver the product and close the project?

A project management plan is composed of many subsidiary plans, for example scope management plan, cost management plan, risk management plan, procurement management plan, etc.

The project management plan is a meta-plan of the project plan, and it is the actual plan which is followed by the project management team to successfully complete the project.

The Difference Between the Project Plan and Project Management Plan

There are many differences between the project plan and project management plan. Some of these differences are as follows:

  • The project plan describes the plan broadly with less attention to detail. It deals with high level planning. On the other hand, the project management plan is described with every possible detail.
  • The project plan deals with the “what” part of the project, and the project management plan deals with “how” part of the project.
  • The project plan is a visionary document, it defines the vision. The project management plan is executed to achieve the vision.
  • The project plan gives you the vision to complete the project successfully, while the project management plan defines and develops the system to be used to complete the project successfully.
  • For larger projects, the project plan and project management plan are different, but for smaller projects they can be merged.

These were a few differences between the project plan and project management plan, however, please note that the PMBOK Guide does not differentiate the project plan and project management plan, and therefore this topic is not very important from a PMP exam point of view. I have written this blog post because I thought it would be a good read for you, and you should be able to differentiate these two terms if you ever encounter them.

Summary

This post was all about the project plan and project management plan. I did not see any standard definition between the project plan and project management plan; however, in some organizations you may see the difference between these terms, and others will use them interchangeably. For your organization, you should speak with your seniors to find out if they are using these plans differently or not.

Here is where this blog post on the project plan and project management plan ends. I would like to see your thoughts on this subject, and let me know if your organization uses these plans differently or not.

Comments

  1. Edward says

    Hi Fahad,
    Thanks for this. Is the project plan the same with project charter? Contractor call it as project plan while project owner call it as project charter?

    Or would you please explain what is the Project Charter in the view of the contractor?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. ackhang@gmail.com says

    Hello Fahad
    Thank you for the super clear example. I managed to make the project teams understand overall on the finally after lenghty discussion.

    Best luck to you

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