How To Create An Implementation Plan – Steps

Posted: 29/05/2018

An implementation plan defines the objectives and strategies needed for the successful launch, execution and completion of your project. Many institutions struggle to implement a plan that ensures all outcomes are achieved. But that doesn’t need to be you! Follow a few crucial steps to implement your actions effectively, efficiently and, most of all, successfully. 

Key Takeaways:

  • An implementation plan is indispensable for the smooth implementation of any complex project or initiative.
  • An implementation plan helps project managers identify roadblocks, create an effective team with clear tasks, allocate resources and stay organised and on track with project goals.
  • Strategic plans outline objectives, implementation steps and success metrics for efficient execution and, ultimately, completion.
  • If you need help with an implementation plan, use our downloadable template or contact DVE Solutions for assistance.

What Is a Project Implementation Plan?

Implementation is, by definition, the act of carrying out or executing a plan, process or method. It’s the action that must follow any thinking on a review or set of recommendations to ensure progress occurs. An implementation plan, therefore, is the documented steps you need to take to complete your implementation activities successfully. 

In more basic terms, the implementation plan is your blueprint for executing a project. It outlines the necessary resources, tasks and timeline to achieve desired objectives.

The Eight Steps Involved in Successful Implementation

Big projects can be daunting, but implementation becomes much more manageable when you hone in on achievable project outcomes and develop a solid plan for reaching those outcomes in a reasonable amount of time and within budget.

Here are the eight steps involved in a standard implementation plan:

Step 1: Create a list of desired outcomes and goals

In the first step of the implementation plan, the project objectives should be clearly identified. Once the end goals and objectives have been set, an implementation plan can be fleshed out and expanded with detailed steps to meet those objectives.

To determine the actions needed and the priorities of tasks, you need to list the outcomes you want to achieve through this implementation exercise. Usually, these are in the form of recommendations from a review or business process improvement exercise.  

Step 2: Research and gather information to identify potential barriers

This step involves researching potential project risks or challenges that may arise. Gather information and make sure the implementation plan is realistic and achievable and look for problem areas.

If you discover possible implementation barriers, develop strategies to overcome them during this step, so they don’t become an issue at a later date.

During this part of the planning process, it’s also helpful to make a scope statement. Such a document outlines the goals, deliverables and project implementation work plan. It is typically written with input from stakeholders to confirm they are in agreement with the implementation process and all deliverables.

The scope statement is your implementation bible. Use it as a reference point throughout implementation, but also be ready to adjust and modify as needed.

Step 3: Establish a budget and identify any budget constraints

Determining and setting aside a budget for the project is a critical piece of the implementation plan. This will help inform the implementation strategies that are put in place. It can also identify any budget constraints affecting implementation so you can address them immediately.

Once you have identified the budget and resource allocation for each task, you can move on to the next step with more knowledge of how you will accomplish your goals.

Remember to leave a buffer for unexpected implementation issues, delays and costs when allocating resources.

Step 4: Determine what action needs to be taken to achieve desired outcomes

This is where all of the action is (literally)! In this section of your implementation plan, you need to write down all the actions that will result in your team achieving your outcomes.

These actions are quite practical in nature and can often seem obvious or quite simple – you literally sit down and think, ‘what are the steps I need to do in order to achieve this outcome’?  

Questions to ask here include: 

  • Who do we need to talk to? 
  • What needs to be decided? 
  • What resources are needed? 
  • What milestones need to be set to know we’re on track?  
  • When do we need to check on the progress of those milestones? 
  • What are our key performance indicators (KPIs)?
  • What potential setbacks do we need to plan for?
  • Do any tasks need to be done before taking this action?

Keep in mind that without a measure, progress becomes a matter of opinion – and opinions can easily change over your implementation timeline.

Step 5: Create your project team and assign responsibilities

Once the implementation plan’s tasks have been identified, you must create your implementation team and assign all your team members specific responsibilities.

You also need to allocate a champion to each outcome. A champion should be motivated to achieve the outcome and keep the entire project team accountable for achieving it. Look for those members of your team who have a vested interest in achieving this outcome or who are passionate and committed to a successful implementation.

Share these roles around so you have different champions and no one person is taking the majority of the responsibility.

It is crucial to select the right champion and team member for each task in the project plan, so give yourself plenty of time for this step and ensure all team members understand their roles.

Step 6: Set up a tracking sheet to monitor progress

Once the implementation process has begun, set up a tracking system to ensure implementation stays on track and deadlines are met.

A tracking sheet will give you a quick at-a-glance update of where your implementation plan is at and what actions are complete, in progress or late. This lets you quickly address any issues to get your project back on track.  

We recommend implementing a traffic light process through your tracking sheet for ease of use: 

  • Green – actions completed 
  • Yellow – actions in progress
  •  Red – actions late or at risk

If you would like to download our template implementation plan, you can find it here.

Step 7: Use a project management methodology

A project management methodology is a series of different governance controls, structures and processes designed to help you manage your activities, time and resources more effectively and handle problems proactively when they arise.  

While there are many existing project management methodologies you can implement, the DVE project management methodology, combining the right amount of documentation, communication, governance and control, is producing an incredible success rate in universities with projects being delivered on time and budget while creating positive outcomes even in challenging environments. 

You can learn about our DVE Project Management Methodology here.

Step 8: Schedule a review to evaluate outcomes

Every time you implement change in your organisation, it is a learning opportunity and should be reviewed. Through the review process, examine what worked and what didn’t to identify areas for improvement.

It’s also crucial to look at the setbacks you encountered along the way and how they could have potentially been avoided or reduced to take this knowledge into your next project implementation plan. 

Other Tips for Crafting a Comprehensive and Effective Implementation Plan

Identify stakeholders and develop a stakeholder engagement strategy

Identify and involve key stakeholders early and often. Stakeholders need to understand why implementation is necessary and how it will benefit them, so involve them in the process from the beginning.

Keep everyone in the loop. Communication is vital to a successful project, so keep stakeholders informed of progress and ensure they are comfortable with every step of the implementation process. See our article on digital transformation roadmaps.

Make your implementation timeline realistic

To ensure an implementation plan is successful and sustainable, be realistic when developing implementation goals, project milestones, budgets and expectations. The research portion of the implementation strategy can help you here, as you will better understand what is achievable and how long it might take after thorough research and planning.

While you want to aim high, it’s important to remain pragmatic about what you can achieve to keep the team motivated and project implementation on track.

Include contingencies for potential implementation issues

Implementation plans are meant to be flexible and should be open to feedback from all stakeholders.

As implementation progresses, you may encounter new challenges or ideas for improvement. You may need to modify resource allocation, assign tasks to different team members or adjust the implementation schedule and project goals.

Making changes to the implementation plan as needed is an integral part of reaching project completion and ensuring project success.

FAQs About Project Implementation Plans

Here are some common questions that might come up when considering or constructing a project implementation plan.

Why Should You Use a Project Implementation Plan?

An implementation plan is an essential tool for ensuring the successful execution of a new project, especially if that project is large in scale or complex in nature. Projects like these have a tendency to become derailed if not carefully managed and executed.

An implementation plan outlines the steps to bring the project from concept to implementation and helps stakeholders focus on the key objectives.

It’s a great project management tool for setting practical timelines, costs and expectations and tracking progress during the execution phase of the project.

What Tools Are Available to Help Project Managers Guarantee Successful Project Execution?

Several tools are available to managers looking to craft the perfect implementation plan. For example, project management software can help simplify task management and stakeholder communication.

You can also use project templates to create implementation plans quickly and easily, and you can take advantage of an array of online tools designed specifically for project implementation management.

Finally, you can always reach out to a consultant, like DVE Solutions, to help you create an implementation plan tailored to your specific needs or for guidance during the implementation planning process.

What Qualities Make a Project Implementation Plan Successful?

An exemplary implementation plan should be pragmatic and detail-oriented while considering each stakeholder’s specific needs. It should focus on delivering tangible results through strategic planning and enthusiastic project execution and include contingencies for potential implementation issues.

An implementation plan designed for success should also accommodate feedback from stakeholders and allow for the revisions of expectations and outcomes throughout the implementation process.

How Can I Monitor the Effectiveness of My Implementation Plan?

Monitoring implementation plan effectiveness is an essential part of any project. Regular reviews with stakeholders can help you stay on track throughout the implementation schedule and enable you to address any issues that arise.

You can also use software to track progress, implementation plan milestones, budget, due dates and time constraints. With a close eye on your data, you can closely monitor implementation plan performance and guarantee you’re meeting your project plan goals.

A Good Plan Sets You Up for Successful Project Execution

A solid implementation plan is invaluable to a project manager. It provides clarity and direction for stakeholders, helps you stay on track throughout implementation and ensures that everyone involved understands the project scope, budget and timeline.

By taking the time to create a thorough implementation plan before beginning your project, you can set yourself up for success and ensure that implementation goes as smoothly as possible.

Are you struggling to get things implemented on top of your BAU activities? You’re not alone. Contact DVE today at 1800 870 677 to find out how you can ensure successful implementation where change actually happens.