Project Plan vs Project Management Plan

July 26, 2020
Fahad Usmani
project plan vs project management plan

A few months back I attended a local PMI chapter seminar. While I was having a conversation with other professionals, this topic arose: “Are project plan and project management plan the same?”

This discussion led us to some interesting discoveries, which I am going to share, along with my research on the topic.

During our conversation, we concluded that there was no standard difference between the project plan and project management plan.

The organization you work for determines the difference. They may decide to stick with only one term, both terms may be used as synonyms of each other, or they can refer to different types of plans.

Let’s discuss these two plans in detail.

Project Plan

The project plan is also referred to as a work plan in some organizations.

A project plan can simply be defined as 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 was 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 are the scope, budget, and schedule?
  • What technology is going to be used to accomplish the objective?

Project Management Plan

The project management plan is a formal, approved document that guides you precisely on how the work of a project will be 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 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. It contains the plan that guides the project management team to complete the project successfully.

The Difference Between the Project Plan and Project Management Plan

Some of the differences between these two plans are as follows:

  • The project plan describes the plan broadly with less attention to detail. It deals with high-level planning, while the project management plan uses every possible detail.
  • The project plan deals with the “what” part of the project, while the project management plan deals with the “how”.
  • The project plan is a visionary document, while 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.
  • These two terms are different for large projects, but they can be merged for smaller projects.

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

Summary

Project plan and project management plan can refer to the same thing or they can be different. In some organizations, you may see a distinction between these terms, and others will use them interchangeably. For your organization, you should speak with your seniors to find out how the company uses these terms.

How about your organization? Do you differentiate or is there no difference at all? Please share your experience through the comments section.

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Speak Your Mind

  • Hello Fahad.
    I am pmp professional and currently preparing for CCM. for me project management plan deals with the goals of the project within the organization objectives that’s aligned with the objectives of the organization and the program iwhich this project is part of. A project plan is dealing with safely constructing the project components to achieve the bigger picture( the project management plan)- project plan deals with the constructability of the project, safety, mobilization, commissioning, projects as built drawing and handover proceedures. its a contractor and CM at risk responsibility to execute construction plan while its the owner agent’s responsibility to execute the project management plan to make sure owner put his investment in the right spot. generally speaking
    prject plan is site specifi while management plan is organization specific.

  • Identify an example of a project your organisation could undertake and outline it briefly.

    At what points would income and expenditure levels associated with the project be examined?

    Why are these effective? Why are they not effective?

  • Do’n you think the content of Project Plan as mentioned above similar to the content of Charter? If this is the case then why we are creating 02 separate documents i.e. Project Plan and charter?

    • Project management plan is a detail plan about how are you going to accomplish the task. The project statement of work is a document which explains high level description of the deliverables of the project.

  • Thank you very much for this wealthy information about project management. I am aspiring to be a professional project manager, and I would like to know who prepares the Project Execution Plan, is it the Clent’s PM or the Contractor’s PM?

  • Hi Fahad,
    Im really grateful to you with this article, it really helps me to understand the difference with the clear and practical explanation :))
    Seven blessings to you my friend

  • That you so much at least i get to understand that project planning plays a vital role to the project management since its define the cost needed to pursue with the project in short project planning is the reflection of the project outcome.

    • Most of the times, sponsor is worried about deliverables not the plan. Usually the approved by the senior management of your company.

  • I agree with you to differentiate Project Plan and Project Management Plan. Project Plan is a high-level document which is usually prepared by a consultant who works for BOD or the company’s owner before a project manager is assigned to handle the next process of the project. Project Plan is sometimes called Project Execution Plan. Project Plan usually consist of strategy, policies, and other important information required by a project manager who will handle the project. Starting with reviewing the Project Plan, the project manager will prepare Project Charter dan Project Management Plan. That’s why Project Plan is not included in PMBOK.

  • Hi Fahad,
    What is the difference project Management Plan and Project Document? Please explain with examples.

    Thank you so much.
    Neil

    • Management plan help you run the project; for example, cost management plan, risk management plan, etc. While any document can be a project document such as risk register, stakeholder register, issue log, etc.

  • thanks for your explanation but i have a question.
    what is the relationship between project and planning?
    am waiting your answer thank youuu sooooooooo

  • Hai,
    Thank You Sir! really good stuff ,the example is very clear .sir i am searching for “agile project management” but every one explain it as agile development process as these both are same ?if Not then please explain it.Thank’s

  • 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.

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