What Is a High-Level Project Plan? Definition and Importance

Updated January 26, 2023

When working on a project, it can be helpful to plan ahead to make sure everyone involved knows their role. One way to prepare for a project is to create a high-level project plan that addresses the most important aspects of a project, like budgets and resources. If you work as a project manager or on a team that frequently completes projects, you may benefit from knowing how to use a high-level project plan for future projects. In this article, we explain what a high-level project plan is and provide steps for how to use one.

Related: Project Plans To Use for Your Next Project (With Examples)

What is a high-level project plan?

A high-level project plan is a plan that considers the resources, time and goals required to complete a project and monitors them over a certain period of time. This type of plan specifically focuses on the milestones a team should reach at different stages of a project. High-level project plans can also track a project's progress and provide insight into how a team can adjust their efforts to meet goals if necessary.

How to implement a high-level project plan

Here are some steps that can help you create and use a high-level project plan:

1. Establish clear goals

Some of the most important elements of a high-level project plan are a clear end goal and a set of objectives that can contribute to a project's completion. This is because a high-level project plan focuses on the milestones of a project, rather than on each task completed. To establish clear goals, think about what you want to achieve by the end of your project and the biggest steps that can help you and your team complete it.

For example, if the end goal of your project is to create a billboard, your main goal might be to unveil the billboard to the public. Some milestones might include securing a location, finalizing a design and assembling the billboard.

Related: Tips on Setting Goals

2. Create a schedule

Another detail that a high-level project plan considers is the time a project might require to produce the desired result. Timing can be important when planning a project because knowing the time or date your team should finish a particular aspect of a project can help you track your progress.

When creating a schedule, you can organize a timeline for your project and identify specific dates and milestones in order to monitor your timing and progress. This may help increase your chances of reaching your goals and allow you to adjust your efforts as needed.

3. Build a strong team

Having a team that's capable and trustworthy can be helpful when working on a project. This is because an effective team that trusts each other may be more likely to succeed and produce great work, both individually and while collaborating.

Building a strong team can be an important objective to include in a high-level project plan. To recruit the ideal team for your project, it can be helpful to consider the goals and schedule you create and use that information to identify potential team members at your workplace who you believe can successfully complete the objectives you set within your timeline.

4. Estimate costs

Cost is another aspect that can be important to consider when implementing a high-level project plan. This is because knowing how much money the different elements of a project might cost can give you information about the amount and types of resources. For example, if your project is opening a new office building, you might need to estimate the cost of building materials, construction equipment and skilled labor.

There are several ways to estimate cost, but many methods involve identifying areas of a project that might require expenses and conducting research about how much money these parts typically cost to create. Once you know what your project will probably cost, you can organize a budget and distribute your funds to the areas that need money.

Related: The Complete Guide to Project Cost Management

5. Allocate resources

In a high-level project plan, effective allocation of resources can help guide team members through the tasks they need to complete in order to reach a project's end goal. This process can involve considering each of your team member's strengths and assigning them tasks and objectives where they can best use their skills. You can also distribute resources to each team member to help them perform their specific duties.

This process of resource allocation may help you maximize productivity and ensure that you've equipped all team members with the materials they need to make progress on a project. It may also help reduce waste and expenses by only providing certain resources to people who can use them for specific tasks.

Related: What Is Resource Management? A Guide to Resource Allocation and Planning

6. Monitor progress

Since a high-level project plan typically only considers large milestones, it can be beneficial to monitor a project's progress. This can help you ensure that your team completes each task and contributes to project milestones successfully. While you might not need to oversee each task that your team completes, you can refer to the timeline and objectives you set to determine whether your team reaches each objective by the time indicated in your schedule. If not, you can adjust your efforts and your team's priorities so they can contribute to the project more effectively.

Why is a high-level project plan important for project managers?

Here are a few reasons why a high-level project plan can be important for project managers:

  • It can provide a framework for a team to follow while working on a project.

  • It can help project managers allocate resources effectively.

  • It can maximize productivity by compartmentalizing tasks under larger objectives.

  • It can mitigate risks by allowing project managers to gauge progress quickly and adjust where needed.

  • It can promote a positive work environment by keeping everyone on the team informed and aware of their duties.


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