The low down of Technical Plans

I have made my share of Technical project plans and I’m happy to say, my plans have been accepted internally and externally. Project plans I’ve reviewed have been approved faster and with less additional changes than those that I have not looked at.

I have decided to pass on the fundamentals of proper planning for technical projects to the greater public. This is not rocket science, nor is this subject a secret and most likely, if you have already dealt with project plans, this will already be second nature to you.

Some may find this method to be different from their teachings and may deride it, others may find something new that they want to implement in their process. Yet others may find it beneficial and completely revamp their process based on this model. Not everything is required for every plan, but these are the trigger points one should be aware of.

Please note : This is not a replacement for proper project management (coordinated with a qualified project manager if the project is big enough to require it) and cater only to the technical aspects. This does not include the meetings, the progress report or any other non-technical areas of the project plan.

The Skeleton

This section describes all the parts that make the skeleton of a technical project plan. Once you understand this, forming the project plan will be easier and organized. Each area is expanded in later sections.

Introduction
Deliverable
Scope
Benefits
Instructions
Schedule
Costs
Risks
Issues
Downtime
Rollback
Testing

 

Introduction
This is the introductory paragraph that describes the reason for the plan or document. This can also be called a statement of need or background. This will generally state a problem or situation that is being faced, the risk or impact that is caused and the proposal for a solution.

an example :
The current file server is 7 years old and has major performance issues. The vendor has investigated and has diagnosed the problem to be with the motherboard. Repairs are not feasible and a replacement has been advised. This plan documents the steps in order to migrate the current file server with zero downtime or impact to the business

Deliverables
Sometimes called objectives, this is a list of things to be achieved by the successful implementation of the project plan

Deliverables in the context of the file server :

  1. Replacement file server setup
  2. All data migrated and accessible
  3. All printers re-mapped
  4. All shared folders accessible
  5. Old server decommissioned
  6. Backup setup and verified
  7. AMC activated
  8. Communication
  9. UAT
Scope
The scope may include sections for in-scope and out-scope items. In-scope would mean what is in the scope of the project, in other words, what is expected in terms of actions for the project. For instance, the server procurement and setup, networking, and data migration might be considered in-scope, while something like an additional server rack, upgrade of software, or networking device might be out-scope

In-scope of the file server :

  1. Procurement of file server
  2. Data migration from old server to new server
  3. Modification of Login Scripts
  4. Retaining of IP Address and Computer Name
  5. Procurement and activation of AMC

Out-scope of the file server :

  1. Server rack or other server room modifications
  2. Modification to Group Policy
  3. Additional hardware upgrade or replacement
Benefits
This is a list of benefits achieved by following through with this plan. This could include compliance, better performance, being with the latest technology, future proof etc.

Benefits:

  1. Higher performance and stability
  2. Updated technology for future advancements
  3. Mitigation of risk of old failing server
  4. Hardware supported through AMC
Instructions
This area will be the most important as it is the meat of the project. This is the technical documentation which shows understanding of the subject. Anyone can find Microsoft documentation or vendor provided documentation and pretend to know it, but let’s face it, Microsoft, like so many other product developers, writes reference documents and their guides cannot be followed without someone to break it down for you. Until you write it in your own words showing a clear understanding of the steps that can be reproduced, you will be confused.

This area cannot be explained by example as each project will have it’s own instructions. Arguably the largest section of the project plan and some would prefer this to be it’s own document.

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