Driving momentum during an implementation is important. At the beginning, when an idea is fresh, the excitement is tangible and everyone wants to get started now. However, getting started immediately without a proper Project Management Plan is a risk that can have a negative impact on your implementation.
_“If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else.”
– Yogi Berra
Planning is an essential part of any company’s success. Companies with a Project Management Office (PMO) to guide all internal projects and implementations have a higher success rate. PMOs can serve as a powerful bridge in creating and managing the link between strategy and results. The State of the PMO 2010 reported that PMOs  :
Decreased failed projects by 31 percent
Delivered 30 percent of projects under budget
Demonstrated a 21 percent improvement in productivity
Delivered 19 percent of projects ahead of schedule
Saved companies an average of $567,000 (USD) per project
The numbers above speak for themselves. If you are looking to complete any type of project or implementation, you must start with a formalized Project Management Plan. Not only will a plan provide centralized and coordinated management oversight, it will also help develop a requirements management plan to make sure everything stays on track and the project is completed in scope, on time and on budget. The Project Management Plan is the map you will use to ensure you reach your intended destination.
Academically, there are fifteen components of a successful Project Management Plan. Of these fifteen, however, there are three that are critical to a successful implementation:
1. Clear and specific requirements
You need to know why you are doing the project, what you get for doing it, and what “done” looks like. By defining the boundaries in which the project will operate, you can ensure the stakeholders are happy with the results and expectations have been met.
2. The right team with clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and accountability
Your project team must be comprised of the right individuals with the appropriate backgrounds and skill sets. Clear roles, responsibility, and accountability will help guide each team member through the project and ensure that there are no questions as to what is expected or what they are accountable for.
3. Strong commitment
Successful project managers and team members always ensure that commitment is maintained and their projects are delivered within realistic deadlines and expectations. Project sponsors and stakeholders need to share a common vision of project results and a commitment to success by providing leadership and support to the project team.
No Project Management Plan is perfect; there is always something that can potentially take a project off course. However, a well-developed Project Management Plan that includes these critical components and takes risks into consideration at the beginning–along with plans to mitigate any potential risks–is the secret that successful companies know. Why would you embark on a journey if you are not going to reach your destination?