Step 1: Outline your project purpose and have a plan

A project plan usually describes:

  • the nature of the project 
  • why the project is needed
  • who benefits from the project
  • project partners 
  • what resources are needed 
  • what activities will be delivered and when 
  • what outcomes the project aims to achieve. 

Many of you will have completed the information for a project plan in an application form from a funding body. However, if you do not have a project plan, we strongly advise you complete one. There are many templates available online for producing a project plan.

Project plans are especially important for recording the ‘how’ of your project – that is, the activities you plan to deliver, why, and the anticipated outputs. The following questions offer a useful prompt for drafting your project plan.

Project planning questions

Project purpose and objectives Project outcomes  Project management
What problem are you trying to solve?
Why does it matter?
Why do key stakeholders/funders want/need this project?
What is the evidence around approaches to tackling the problem? 
What would you ultimately expect to see if your project is successful?
What is your theory of change for achieving your outcomes?
Who is the project targeting?
How will you know that the project has been successful (what will be your measures of success?)
What are the planned activities?
What outputs will the project deliver?
When will the activities happen (time frame)?
What resources are needed – human and financial?
What are the potential risks and how will they be mitigated?
What are the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders?
What will happen when the project ends?

If possible, you should do project planning as a team, and draw on the work of your project logic (Step 3). Project plans can benefit from a situational analysis; that is, exploring the potential strengths, weaknesses, environmental opportunities and threats or risks for the project, and how to manage these.

In summary, a strong project plan benefits from from:

  • understanding your theory of change (Step 3)
  • a situational analysis and stakeholder/partnership analysis
  • ensuring the plan responds to diverse identities and lived experiences.

A project plan is a living document. You should revisit it during the life of your project. Importantly, it will form a sound basis for any evaluation.