Hi again. Earlier, you learned about creating a project plan based on a project schedule that lists all of the milestones, tasks, and deadlines for the project and that clearly outlines the people responsible for each task. You also learned about Gantt charts, which are simple visual ways to create your schedule. So, how can you help make sure that your plan works for you and your team? Let's discuss five best practices for building a great project plan that will remain useful throughout the execution and closing phases of your project. Those include: ensuring careful review of project deliverables, milestones, and tasks; giving yourself time to plan; recognizing and planning for the inevitable (things will go wrong); staying curious; and championing your plan. First, you'll want to ensure that you've carefully reviewed the project's deliverables, milestones, and tasks. During the initiation phase, you'll recall that you created a project charter with important information regarding your project, like your goal, scope, and deliverables. When a project enters the planning phase, your plans become more granular. Let's discuss this in the context of your project at Office Green. In your plan, you need to break this information down further. You're creating a new website for the service, so you'll need to break that deliverable down into smaller milestones, like kicking off a meeting with the web developer and gaining stakeholder approval. And those milestones will break down into smaller tasks, like mocking up a design of a new website and developing a landing page. Each of these tasks will be assigned to a teammate and given a start and end date. Now, a new website isn't the only Project Plant Pals deliverable. You'll need to break down every deliverable into milestones and tasks to ensure that you and you team have a clear picture of what need to be done to meet your project's goals. Your plan revolves around completing each and every tiny task, so you should take your time to get this piece right. This brings me to my second tip: give yourself time to plan. There's a reason that planning is its own phase of the project life cycle. It's a time-intensive process, especially for larger projects with multiple deliverables. Planning gives you and your team some time to think realistically about what your team can and cannot accomplish within a certain time frame. You're not a machine, and neither are your teammates. There are limits to the amount of work any one person can do in a given time frame. Using the strategies that we've shared earlier, like effort estimation and capacity planning, can help you and your team get a realistic sense of how long the project will take and when you'll be able to hit your milestones. It's also important to allow for buffer time, since projects rarely go exactly as planned. Later in the project, you'll be grateful that you initially planned for some built-in flexibility around timing. That leads nicely into my third tip: recognize and plan for the inevitable—things will go wrong. Even with thorough planning, your projects will still experience unexpected setbacks and bumps in the road. You can't plan for every problem, but the team can identify the risks that will most likely occur and create plans to prevent or mitigate those risks. As we mentioned before, buffer is a helpful tool for mitigating issues related to slowdowns in progress. You'll learn more about how to create a risk management plan that goes into your project plan later on in this course. Onto my fourth tip: stay curious. Though you may be the sole expert on your project overall, it's extremely unlikely that you're an expert on every task of the project. That's why it's so important to sit down with your teammates during a planning phase and ask lots and lots of questions. As we mentioned earlier, asking your teammates questions about their work can give you deeper insights into their tasks for the project. Their input will help you build a stronger plan, and the back and forth dialogue will help you build trust between you and your teammates. To keep the project running smoothly, it's also important to understand the expectations, priorities, risk assessments, and communication styles of your stakeholders and vendors. For example, you might ask stakeholders how to best keep them in the loop on the project's plans, and you might ask your vendors about their availability to complete work for the project. Now onto my fifth tip: champion your plan. While deciding how to organize your plan, you'll want to ask yourself a few questions. Like, can your teammates use the tool you used to build your plan? Is the information clear enough for your stakeholders? Will using this plan as a single source of truth save your team and stakeholders the time and energy when they need to find information on the project? If the answer to each of these questions is a strong yes, then you're on the right track. To achieve buy-in from your teammates and stakeholders on your project plan, champion it! Tell your team why it benefits them to stay on top of the plan. By doing so, you may influence your teammates to stay on track and update the plan regularly. So to recap, you can set your project plan up for success if you review your deliverables, milestones, and tasks; give yourself time to plan; prepare for things to go wrong; stay curious; and champion your plan once it's finalized. Coming up, we'll recap what you've learned over the past few videos. See you there.