If you’ve spent any time in project management at all, you know that planning is a huge part of everything project managers do. That’s because, without solid management plans in place for managing projects, you’ll quickly find yourself in the weeds, as things you could have planned for start happening, throwing everything into chaos.
That’s why there are even plans for implementing the plans you’ve made. Without an implementation strategy, projects can be successful, but you run the risk of slamming into walls and discovering problems that could have been avoided with the right, well, plan.
Project implementation plans are a great example of this.
What is an implementation plan?
Implementation plans are plans that create an outline of an entire project, broken down into smaller pieces in ways that help define the length of the project, the teams you’ll be working with, and the tools they’ll need to properly complete the project.
With an implementation plan, you'll be looking to create a clear plan of action that defines the what, why, and how of the project. Implementation planning also helps organize everything related to a project into a single place, so you, your team, and stakeholders can easily find any information that you’re looking for.
Benefits of Coda's implementation plan template.
A strong implementation plan template helps you easily define all the critical pieces of information required to help you successfully implement your plans. Our template was put together in a way that is easy to follow, creates a timeline for people to follow, helps define the metrics of success for the project, and provides information on who is responsible for what during the course of the project.
Templates help because they basically walk you through everything you need to consider during the projects you run, although you’ll likely have to customize it slightly to match the exact workflow for your projects.
Steps for creating an implementation plan template.
Our implementation plan template makes life easier for you when planning the implementation phase of your project, but it doesn’t do all the work for you. The good news is that you’ve probably already defined most of the core pieces of information, you just need to plunk them into the template. This can help a lot during the planning process before you’re ready to move on to the actual implementation phase.
Establish measurable goals
What are you hoping to accomplish with this project? This is usually a pretty obvious question to answer, since the end result is often something like launching a new product, building a new feature, or otherwise growing your business.
Defining these project goals in ways that are measurable helps you show stakeholders what they can expect at the end of the project in a meaningful way.
Assign roles to all team members
Just like you can’t run a project without your team, your team can’t do their jobs without knowing exactly what you’re expecting of them. Even if everyone knows what they should be doing at all times, having it clearly laid out in your implementation plan, helps keep everyone focused on the work they should be doing, not wandering into someone else’s lane.
It also helps provide visibility for stakeholders, so that they know who to go to when they have specific questions about the project, which can improve buy-in from anyone who may be reluctant.
You might think some people have obvious roles within a project, but don’t take anything for granted when creating your implementation plan. Include as much detail about the various roles each member of your team plays in the project as possible.
Create a step-by-step action plan
Action plans are the plans that define what needs to happen to reach your desired goal. Basically, they specify the work that needs to be done. The more specific you can be in this stage, the better. You’ll want to make sure you capture as many steps throughout the project as possible, so that everyone is on the same page each step of the way. Even seemingly obvious steps, like project kickoff, need to be on here, so that the workflow is clear for everyone and that crucial steps aren’t missed. You can use action plan templates to create these, if you haven’t done so before.
Set clear implementation schedule & milestones
Schedules and milestones help create a solid timeline for your project. The schedule defines when work should begin, while the milestones highlight the critical moments during a project and help you understand at a glance whether you’re on schedule or behind. As with most aspects of the implementation plan, the more specific you are here, the better. A good schedule should also take dependencies into account.
If you need help defining the milestones of your project, we have a
Starting a project without a well-defined budget and resource allocation is a great way to spend too much money on a project. That’s why you want to include this information in your implementation plan. Your budget may change as you get deeper into the project, but providing as much information as possible in your implementation plan, including a detailed list of where the money is going to be spent can help you keep costs in check.
You may want to run cost management on the project first to help you properly budget for the project (don’t worry, as you probably expect, we’ve got a
that can help with that). One of the big reasons for including this information is to provide further visibility on the project to stakeholders.
Have a contingency plan in place
As much as it’s not fun to plan for the worst-case scenario, you should always have a backup plan ready, just in case. You might find that you don’t need to use the whole plan, but if you lose a key member of your team or one of the tools you’re using suddenly stop working, having a contingency plan that you can turn to when things don’t quite work out can save your hide. Try to consider all variables, like people taking time off, potential network downtime, holidays, and have plans in place just in case you need them.
Conduct a review after 6 months
Always take the time to review your plans after the fact. You’ll be amazed at how many little things you can change or optimize to help you create more efficient implementation plans for the next time. Post-mortems should be done after each project anyway, but don’t forget to leave time to review the plan itself.
👉 Get started with this implementation plan template
Copy this template
After you copy this template, you can start editing the implementation plan to fit the needs of your project management organization. This template mixes the best of documents and spreadsheets so that you can write paragraphs of information about your implementation plan, but also include a smart table of tasks and milestones that need to be completed.
How to use this implementation plan template in Coda
Step 1: Define project details
The first step is writing high-level information about your project in the
page. You should replace the page title with the name of the project. After that, you will add information like who is preparing this implementation plan, the date that this plan is prepared, and the version number of this implementation plan. The information you write here is similar to what you might write in a
table contains the tasks and scheduled implementation dates. As you add more tasks to this table, fill out the other columns in the table related to that task. Other important columns to fill out include the Est. Days, Resources required, and Target Completion Date. The implementation schedule timeline/gantt chart you see further down on the page is a view built off of the tasks you add to this table. As you change the dates and estimated days for a task, it changes the gantt chart too.
Step 3: Write implementation plan
Now that you have the goals, team members, and implementation schedule and tasks defined, it’s time to write a more details implementation plan. This section of the template contains headers like “Approval process” and “Description of implementation.” These sections give you more freedom to describe how you plan on carrying out this implementation plan and project with the team and resources available to you.
Beyond the implementation plan, fill out the Glossary and Additional Research sections to give your project stakeholders additional context about the project.
Implementation plan template FAQs
What is included in an implementation plan?
We’ve already covered a lot of what you should include, but a good implementation plan covers details like:
Due dates and timelines
Team members and their responsibilities
Tools needed for the project
Well-define success metrics
Basically, it’s anything and everything related to your projects. We can't say this enough, but there is no such thing as too much detail here. If you’re worried about bogging down your team with too much information, create a tl;dr that highlights the mission-critical information.
What is the difference between an action plan and an implementation plan?
An implementation plan is a complete look at everything required for the project, including budget, resources needed, team members required, and schedules. An action plan is how everything in the implementation plan is going to be, well, implemented. It’s basically a detailed outline of the steps required to reach the end of the project.
What is the difference between an implementation plan and a project plan?
For all intents and purposes, implementation plans and project plans are the same thing. They both describe the scope, timelines, budget, and resources needed for a project. And, they both are necessary aspects of the planning process. Whether you call something an implementation plan or a project plan is up to you.
What are the benefits of having an implementation plan?
Implementation plans help your entire team and all stakeholders understand what the project is going to look like from start to finish. It defines goals, success criteria, and everything else that’s needed for people involved in the project. They build trust in the process (and within the teams), as well as providing increased visibility across the entire project.
Coda is an all-in-one doc for your team’s unique processes — the rituals that help you succeed. Teams that use Coda get rid of hundreds of documents, spreadsheets, and even bespoke apps, to work quickly and clearly in one place. This template is a Coda doc. Click around to explore.