Guidelines for the preparation of project plans

Guidelines for the preparation of project plans (Word, 593KB)

"Preliminary project plan" or "Project management plan"

Project name

Location (if applicable)


National Project Management System "Initiation phase" or "Planning phase"

Prepared by:


File name:

Note: The comments in brackets are instructions to the writer.

On this page

General notes and information

(Delete this section when the project plan is complete)

The project plan is the document that defines the plan (systematic method) that will be used to meet the project objectives. It will include why this project is being initiated, what is to be done, who will be involved in its development and delivery, when it will be done and how it will be done. In addition to these basic questions, it includes cost information, monitoring and control strategies.

The project plan takes on two forms during the life of the project. It initially starts out as the preliminary project plan and can have specific annexes updated as more information becomes available. At the beginning of the delivery stage, the project management plan is prepared to detail the delivery plan to the end of the project.

The content of the project plan is, for the most part, structured around the Project Management Institute (PMI) knowledge areas.

Assumptions on which information is based should be noted in all sections of the plan. Throughout the life of the project, client-requested scope modifications and their associated impact should also be noted in the appropriate sections of the plan. The project team must periodically validate and/or modify assumptions as the project evolves. In general, as the project evolves, risks should be more accurately defined as well as their potential impact should be better understood and mitigated. Also, the various sections of the project plan such as scope, schedule and cost, should include the source of information for later reference in case verification of information is required (that is project leader, project manager, client, consultant, quantity surveyor, etc.).

Identification stage preliminary project plan

The preliminary project plan (PPP) is prepared by the person carrying out the role of the project leader. The purpose of the PPP is to focus on the plan (systematic method) that will be taken to develop the project to the end of the project identification stage at which point project approval/expenditure authority (PA/EA) will be obtained or denied. Please note that many of the sections and information provided in the statement of requirements (SoR) can be used and further developed to help complete the PPP.

In preparing the PPP, the National Project Management System (NPMS) knowledge areas should be consulted. The knowledge areas describe the required practices within the context of the Treasury Board (TB) Project Management Policy and the PMI's Project Management Body of Knowledge that should be taken over the life of the project.

As the same template is used for both the PPP and the project management plan (PMP), the key aspects that should be developed in the PPP include the following:

Section 2.0 Project background:
Description of the project background, describing the context for the project, the identified need and the reasons for initiating the project. The content for this section is largely based on the "Purpose" and "Background" sections of the SoR.
Section 3.0 Scope management:
Problem/opportunity definition (section 3.1) and any project constraints/issues (section 3.2.1). Content or this section should be based on the "Problem/opportunity definition" section of the SoR. The scope documents will be divided into small packages to create the activity list and milestone list, as well as a work breakdown structure (WBS).
Section 4.0 Time management:
From the activity lists and milestone lists, a project schedule will be developed. In the PPP, a schedule must be developed up to PA/EA, and an overall milestone list reflecting activities to the end of the project is required. However, any known schedule constraints (for example fixed end date, lease expiry) should always be reflected.
Section 5.0 Cost management:
The level of detail for this section is subject to the adequacy of information to generate a cost plan for the proposed project.

Note that the intent is to provide an initial budget for the project with expected cash flows for delivery of the project. As a minimum, copy the spending breakdown provided in the approved statement of requirement document and provide an estimate/timeline of how the funds for those cost items/activities will be disbursed.

Section 6.0 Financial management:
Must outline approved seed funding (received with the approved SoR) and anticipated costs to complete to PA/EA submission.
Section 10.0 Quality management:
Description of how the records management system is to be established and maintained (section 10.1), description of the project review methods (section 10.2) and description of the project monitoring and reporting methodology (section 10.3).
Section 12.0 Human resources management:
Who will be the project team for this stage and their roles and responsibilities. In the preliminary stages of the plan a simple outline of the project team and roles can suffice. The roles and responsibilities should however be developed in detail as the project approaches PA/EA.

Once the identification stage is completed and the project is approved at PA/EA, the PPP will be used to transition the project for the next stage by the project delivery team.

Delivery stage project management plan

The project management plan (PMP) is prepared by the project manager, respecting overall objectives defined in the PPP and project approvals obtained by the project leader. The project leader is to validate and sign the PMP.

The purpose of the PMP is to define the project objective and scope for the approved solution, as well as how it is executed, monitored, and controlled during the delivery stage. The PMP details project activities from the planning phase to project completion and ensures that the project objectives and requirements provide sufficient detail to allow for the preparation of complete project instruction to the project team.

Medium project management plan

This guideline is also used to develop the medium project management plan (M-PMP). The sections that should be completed for an M-PMP are the following:

The level of detail to provide in these sections depends on the project size and complexity. Refer to the National Project Management System real property projects threshold matrix to determine when an M-PMP can be used instead of the full version of the PMP.

Revision history

Version number Date of issue Author(s) Brief description of change

1.0 Executive summary

(Prepare this section last)

Keeping in mind that the purpose of the preliminary project plan is to bring the project to PA/EA, and the purpose of the delivery stage project management plan (PMP) is to provide sufficient detail to allow for the preparation of complete project instruction to the project team, summarize the project objectives, current scope of project and its source, forecast cost estimates and schedules, sensitive issues and potential risks. Indicate the environment of the project: crown-owned, leased space, OGD, etc. Describe the key issues driving the project that have been evaluated and analyzed and that clearly demonstrate problem/opportunity need and how it provides best value while meeting economic or political objectives. "Cut and paste" from the statement of requirements (SoR) or from the investment analysis report (IAR) if necessary but be sure the statements are concise. Avoid pointing the reader to the full SoR/IAR since this is an executive summary and the reader should not have to go elsewhere to obtain the summary. The summary is intended to provide the reader with a quick overview and good understanding of the essential aspects of the project. It would be a useful source of information for an individual preparing a ministerial briefing note.

2.0 Project background

(For preliminary project plan)

Provide background information to describe the context for the project, the identified need and the reasons for initiating the project. This section should closely resemble the "Background" section of the SoR. Indicate in this section if other projects are related to this one. Is this project planned to be a multi-year and/or a multi-phase project?

(For project management plan)

Reiterate the problem/opportunity driving the project and summarize the results of the project identification stage (for example results of feasibility studies and recommendations of the IAR). Summarize the solution chosen that will be used in the project to deliver the option selected from the IAR.

3.0 Scope management

3.1 Problem/opportunity definition

(For preliminary project plan only)

Describe the major objectives of the solution required to meet the defined problem/opportunity. The content for this section should closely resemble the "Problem/opportunity" section of the SoR. The project objectives should also relate to the criteria the client would use to evaluate the project. Topics might include:

Space project: (samples of issues)

Asset project: (samples of issues)

3.2 Scope definition

Describe in detail the scope of the project needed to meet the stated objectives—it is important to keep in mind the requirements for both the product scope (the features and functions of a product or service) and project scope (the work required to deliver the product).

(For project management plan only)

Define the objectives of the chosen solution and the intended results. The project objectives should also define the criteria that can be used by the stakeholders to judge the success of the project.

3.2.1 Constraints

Describe the project boundaries and constraints—what is included in the scope and what is not included, what are the important elements to consider during the delivery of this project. Topics might include:

3.3 Work breakdown structure, activity development

The work breakdown structure (WBS) will not be detailed at the beginning of the project but will become more detailed as the project progresses from the identification to the delivery stages and through the various phases within each stage. Refer to appropriate NPMS roadmap for a description of key activities required for each phase.

Use the provided WBS to prepare the project WBS for inclusion in the project schedule (see WBS indent tree Annex A—Work breakdown structure to be reviewed within the project schedule in 4.0 Time management and Annex B—Project master schedule).

Describe the approach to subdividing the scope elements down into manageable work packages that organize and define the total project scope. Use the scope documents, approval documents and project team meetings to identify the packages. This process will develop the activity list for the project.

See scope management knowledge area.

4.0 Time management

4.1 Summary

Describe how the project team will use proper industry standards and practices in the development and maintenance of the project master schedule and documents.

4.2 Schedule development

Describe how the project team will work together to develop the project master schedule (for example Gantt chart) with sufficient detail or summary activities and logic to reasonably portray the project.

Describe how all schedules (project master schedule, construction and prime consultant schedules) will maintain the same work breakdown structure (WBS) as well as milestones and milestones dates.

The current project master schedule should be either annexed to the PPP or PMP (Annex B—Project master schedule), or if it is filed electronically, the location should be indicated in this section (construction schedules will not be accepted as the master schedule).

4.3 Major milestones

Use the NPMS deliverables and control Points as the major milestones within the project (see Annex C—Milestone list). These milestones will be used in project performances and general reporting within Real Property Services.

See time management knowledge area.

5.0 Cost management

5.1 Project cost plan and cash flow

(For preliminary project plan)

This section is limited to the amount of spending authority from the approved statement of requirements. Therefore, as a minimum, provide a breakdown of the approved spending authority and indicate the timeline of how the funds for each cost item / activity will be disbursed, as per section 4.

(For project management plan)

Provide the cost plan for the project with itemized breakdown into appropriate major components such as:

Client costs must be included in order to reflect the total cost of the project to the federal government.

Following the cost plan, prepare a forecasted cash flow reflecting the expected expenditures—spending in relation to the project schedule for each of the major components. For projects with a multiple year duration, the cost plan and cash flow must be presented in both constant dollars (without escalation) and in current dollars (escalated for inflation, that is constant dollars x appropriate cost indices for the year that the expected expenditures/spending will occur).

Utilize the project cost plan template and attach a copy to this project plan (Annex D—Project cost plan and cash flows).

5.2 Project cost estimates

(For preliminary project plan)

The project information at this stage may not be sufficient to generate a detailed project cost estimate. However, adopting relevant historical data where appropriate to develop an order of magnitude project cost estimate should be considered. Referral to the cost planners/estimators (in-house) is recommended.

(For project management plan only)

Initiate the preparation of a cost estimate for the project through either an external qualified professional cost consultant or cost planners/estimators (in-house). Refer to the cost management knowledge area for the classification of cost estimates. Ensure that the cost estimates accurately represent the defined scope/design of the project.

Provide the references of the project cost estimate that has been prepared and attach a copy of the latest estimate to this project plan (see Annex E—Project cost estimate).

Update the project cost estimates throughout the life of the project as the design develops, to ensure accuracy of the estimates.

See cost management knowledge area.

6.0 Financial management

6.1 Funding strategies

Describe the funding approvals required and the planned steps to obtain funds and approvals. (that is local, regional, HQ, TB or other). Indicate if the project is single funded (PSPC or OGD) or multi-funded (PSPC, OGD, etc.). The information in this section should reflect what has been outlined in the last section of the SoR.

6.2 Approved funding

Provide in Annex F a summary of approved funding. Indicate whether the approved funding is from an internal PA or EA or from a client department. Is the funding part of existing corporate plans? If so, provide the reference (for example, provide the TB minute number).

See financial management knowledge area.

7.0 Change management

7.1 Technical side of change

7.1.1 Scope management

Describe the tools, techniques and approach to be taken to control changes in scope, to determine who will have authority for such change, to identify who will pay for additional fees/costs, and to monitor the impact on other aspects such as the budget, schedule, and risks associated with the approved changes. Note that in the preliminary project plan, this section may not be highly developed.

7.1.2 Time management

Following the scope management process any approved changes to scope must be included in the project schedules and narratives and approved by the project team.

7.1.3 Cost management

The project team must ensure that any approved scope changes following the scope management process must be documented accordingly and any impact on the cost has to be evaluated and reflected in the project cost plan.

7.2 People side of change

In the case of projects that may have effects on employees, such as Workplace 2.0 fit-up or Activity Based Workplace (ABW) projects, base building, and renovations, the project team is encouraged to communicate with the project change manager (from the PSPC project team in the case of a PSPC project, or from the client department project team in the case of an other government departments (OGD) project) and with the PSPC change management advisor (from the PSPC Workplace Solutions Change Management Unit) assigned to the project, regarding all change-related matters that will affect employees.

See stakeholder management knowledge area.

8.0 Risk management

Risk analyses and plans are to be prepared following TB guidelines and the NPMS risk management knowledge area. Include a summary of the major risks identified and their potential impacts relative to cost, schedule, quality and political objectives of the project. Describe the planned responses to mitigate, minimize or avoid impacts on costs, schedules and quality. The complete risk analysis and risk management plan are to be included as an annex (Annex G) or a reference document. The potential impact costs associated with the risk analysis should also be included in the cost estimates shown in the cost management section. Review the risk management plan periodically and amend the risk management plan to include new risks as they appear throughout the life of the project.

In addition, details on the PCRA should be included such as: level, score (%), date completed, and date revised.

See risk management knowledge area.

9.0 Procurement management

This section covers the plans to procure the goods and services needed for the successful identification and delivery of the project.

9.1 Consultant acquisition

Describe the processes to be used for acquiring consultants for the project identification and delivery stages. For example, what consultants will be required to supplement the project team in the definition/analysis process or producing feasibility studies? Will they be engaged through a one or two-stage request for proposal (RFP) process, a standing offer, a sole source (when justified) contract, an expression of interest, the landlord, the prime consultant contract (for specialist consultants) or other means? On occasion, the client may have its own existing contract with a specialist—will this contract be extended or amended?

9.2 Contractor acquisition

Describe the processes to be used for acquiring contractor(s). Describe the planned processes for realization of the project. Does the construction have multiple phases? Will the construction be delivered through design-bid-build, construction management, design-build, lease-purchase, lease fit-up or some combination of these? The reason for the choice should be explained. Reasons might include the urgency of the project that emphasizes the type of project delivery such as: Fast Track, emergency conditions, weather permitted schedule, etc.

Reference the generic roadmap to be followed here.

9.3 Goods and services acquisition

Describe the planned processes for acquiring purchased goods, such as furniture, IT equipment, scientific equipment, vehicles, long delivery items such as switchgear, security systems, etc.

See procurement management knowledge area.

10.0 Quality management

10.1 Project document file management

The need to maintain hard-copy records falls under the purview of the National Archives Act. A records management system is required for every project, in accordance with PSPC records management policies. Consult the National Project Management Directive on Document Management for Real Property Projects for a description of the requirements for proper document management of real property projects, and specify which version of the electronic project filing structure you will use.

10.2 Project reviews

In this section, you must indicate which project review will be done for the project. Consult the National Project Management System Directive on Real Property Project Reviews, determine the level of project review to be carried out (refer to the table in section 5 of this directive) and report what will be undertaken by the project team.

10.3 Design reviews

Describe how plans and specifications will be reviewed, at what stages (for example 33%, 66%, 99%), and members of the design review team.

10.4 Project monitoring and reporting

10.4.1 Key performance indicator

Indicate when the KPI must be updated (scope, time, cost) in SIGMA. For projects over $1M, KPI must be updated quarterly at a minimum for national reporting.

10.4.2 Schedule monitoring and control

Describe how the project team will baseline the approved project master schedule and milestones, and will monitor and control the project progress.

Describe how the project team will provide project status, variance reporting and cash flow projection reporting and determine the frequency of reporting.

10.4.3 Cost monitoring and control

Variances between the current budget estimates and approved funding will be reported on a monthly basis. Describe the methodology and/or tools for cost control and management of changes.

For example:

10.5 Commissioning

Describe the approach to commissioning to be used. For example, who will devise the commissioning strategies and tests? Who will execute them? Who will verify and accept them? Will commissioning be done by in-house resources or by outside commissioning agents, consultants or contractors? Will the client be part of the commissioning team (clients sometimes have specialized knowledge in certain areas, such as bio-safety)? Describe the extent of the commissioning activities, taking into account whether the project will be Crown owned or leased to an OGD and the complexity of the project building systems. Please note that it may be difficult to complete this section during the preliminary phases of the project, it should however be fully developed as the project moves forward.

Refer to the Commissioning Standard (2015), to the technical guide on commissioning on the NPMS website, and to the Public Works and Government Services Canada Commissioning Manual.

10.6 Authorities having jurisdiction

List the authorities that will need to be consulted and from whom approvals or permits will be required. Such authorities might include Labour Canada, TB, provincial bodies, municipal governments, Health Canada, Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans, Transport Canada, and the International Boundary Commission.

10.7 Project evaluation

Describe the criteria, methods and techniques to be used to evaluate whether and how well the completed project meets the stated objectives. Will a lessons-learned evaluation session be conducted? If so, provide a list of planned participants. Determine what strategy will be used for documenting and communicating lessons learned as the project evolves (this should not be left until the end of the project).

See quality management knowledge area.

11.0 Safety management

Describe the actions proposed to meet the due diligence aspects of construction safety. If the construction takes place in areas occupied by federal employees or where the public might have access, how will their safety be ensured? What interaction will be required with provincial jurisdictions? Confirm who is the constructor? Who has the constructor's responsibilities? Is this a leased facility or crown-owned building? Do we have a H&S officer assigned to this project? What is this person's role and responsibilities?

See safety management knowledge area.

12.0 Human resources management

12.1 Project team structure

Provide a project organizational chart that shows the individuals required for all aspects of the project (appropriate for the scope and nature of the project). Ensure the type of services are listed as defined in the work breakdown structure (WBS) in section 3.3, including but not limited to the following:

List the resources required from internal or external sources, such as real estate, IT, and environmental services. Who are the third parties? If need be with multi-source funded projects, different colored backgrounds in the staff boxes could be used to distinguish who pay for who (consultants, specialists, contractors, suppliers, etc.)

Include a team master list in the annexes to identify the name, department, position, phone #, email address, fax #, cellular #, etc. This can be very useful for a new member when they join the team.

12.2 Roles and responsibilities

Explain the roles and responsibilities of all members of the project team, refer to the project charter for client responsibilities. The organization structure should clearly show the authority and approval levels in the team structure for the project. This section should be used to further explain roles not covered in the project charter.

See human resources management knowledge area.

13.0 Communications management

13.1 Internal communications plan

"Internal communications" refers to communications between parties to the project. The internal communications plan should describe the type and manner of communications between members of the project team, including consultants, clients and contractors. Describe the lines and methods of communication, the types and frequency of reports, the requirements for ministerial briefing notes, and other forms of communication to be provided and to whom. What common software suite will be used as the standard written communication package between all team members? (This is more of an issue when dealing with OGD clients.)

The author is free to break this section down into subheadings to deal with each team component separately, that is:

This section could be augmented with a graphic "Project Communication Diagram" with solid lines and dotted lines to show the type of communication that is expected. No line means no communication.

13.2 External communications plan

"External communications" refers to communications with those outside the immediate project team. Planning for this type of communications can be politically sensitive and will require input from the communications officer. Provide details on how information will be handled for the media, members of the public, government public relations, members of Parliament, OGDs, agencies or specialist interest groups. Include planning for any opening, sod-turning or ribbon-cutting ceremonies in this section. If the communications plan is complex, include the main elements of the communications plan in this section and attach the complete plan as an annex.

See communications management knowledge area.

14.0 Environmental management

The intention of the Environmental Compliance Management Program (ECMP) is to meet PSPC's environmental responsibilities which flow from management of buildings, equipment and land. The ECMP checklist process is the mechanism through which PSPC projects are evaluated for the applicability of environmental legislation, policies and sustainable development requirements. It is also the mechanism through which project managers will obtain timely and comprehensive environmental support from environmental services.

Project leaders or project managers are responsible to complete the ECMP checklist at the analysis phase or at the planning phase, depending on the project type, and send to environmental services.

In this section, provide a brief synopsis of the required or completed environmental review.

See environmental management knowledge area.

15.0 Claims management

Provide information on the planned strategies for claims prevention. Describe proactive strategies, such as alternative dispute resolution mechanisms and escalation ladders to resolve potential claims quickly and at the lowest level. Describe any planned partnering sessions or education of consultants and contractors on specialized work. Claims often stem from poor-quality or unclear documents. Therefore, plans for mitigating claims arising from this risk should be covered in the quality management section.

In the event of a formal claim, update the project management plan with the description of the claim and the settlement amount; how it was funded (PSPC, client, shared responsibility, etc.)? What mechanism was used for the payment? Who was involved in the negotiations and their position title at the time of the negotiation? Was litigation required? Indicate under what file number the claim and settlement documents reside.

See claims management knowledge area.

16.0 Signatures

The project leader and the project manager (leasing representative, property manager—delete where not applicable) agree to deliver this project in accordance with this (identification or delivery stage) project plan and amend the annexes of the (PPP or PMP) periodically as project parameters change. For OGD funded projects, the client department acts as the project leader. The OGD project leader is to be provided a copy of the PMP for information. Their signature below indicates they have received the document and verified the project parameters (time, scope, cost) to be correct as presented.

Note: This table is only an example and contains no data.

Action Date Signature

Prepared by

PSPC project leader or project manager


Accepted by

Project leader or project manager


Accepted by

Leasing representative (if required)


Approved by

(see NPMS Directive for approval body)


Documents that are appended to this project plan are to be listed under "Annexes". Documents that are not attached but contain information important to the project are to be listed under "References". Refer to the list at the end of this guideline for documents that could potentially be listed as either annexes or references.


The following documents are attached to this project plan for immediate reference:

Note: This table is only an example and contains no data.

Annex Document name Version or
Revision no.

References: (not attached)

Provide document name (or descriptive title) and where the document can be found either in the central records files or in GCdocsFootnote *

The following documents are not attached but contain pertinent information regarding this project. They can be located as noted below:

Note: This table is only an example and contains no data.

No. Reference document name Location
(for example—File no.,
Web address, etc.)
volume no.

The following are examples of documents that might be attached as either "Annexes" or noted as "Reference Documents". The list is not intended to be obligatory or exhaustive. The actual documents will depend on the specific project. Include what is appropriate for the size and complexity of the project.

Ensure that the document information, wherever it is located, contains: date, who the document was prepared by (name, position, department/company), etc.

Annex A—Work breakdown structure

(not required if included in the schedule at Annex B)

The work breakdown structure example referred to in section 3.3 is as follows:

  1. The WBS below is oriented toward the steps of the process and not toward the sub-elements of the product
  2. For OGD projects, the WBS would not include the Inception and Identification stages of the project as this would be in most cases the client's responsibility. The WBS would start at the delivery stage for the work to be undertaken by PSPC

Work breakdown structure indent tree (asset project):

1. Project title

Work breakdown structure indent tree (space project):

1. Generic lease

Annex B—Project master schedule

(Attach project master schedule here)

Annex C—Milestone list

Note: This table is only an example and contains no data.

Asset project milestone list
Deliverable Prepared by Approved by Baseline date Forecast date Actual date
Project inception stage
Statement of requirements (SoR) Project Leader (PL)        
Project identification stage
Preliminary project plan (PPP) PL        
Feasibility report (FR) PL        
Decision letter (PA/EA) PL        
Identification close out document PL        
Project delivery stage (for project management plan only)
Project management plan (PMP) Project Manager (PM)        
Project review advisory committee presentation PM        
Awarded prime consultant contract Real Property Contracting Directorate (RPCD)        
Completed design concepts Consultant        
Completed design development documents Consultant        
Decision letter (EA) PL        
Completed tender documents Consultant        
Awarded construction contract RPCD        
Turn-over approval (TOA) PL        
Final commissioning PM        
Client move in PM        
Close out document PM        

Note: This table is only an example and contains no data.

Space project milestone list
Deliverable Prepared by Approved by Baseline date Forecast date Actual date
Project inception stage
Statement of requirements (SoR) PL        
Project identification stage
Preliminary project plan (PPP) PL        
Project charter PL        
Feasibility report (FR) PL        
Decision letter (PA/EA) PL        
Identification close out document PL        
Project delivery stage (for project management plan only)
Project management plan (PMP) PM        
Project review advisory committee presentation PM        
Confirmed project approval (PA) PL        
Lease contract approval (LCA) PL        
Lease award letter PL        
SALI-consultant services PM        
Client sign off, design PM        
Confirm/revised expenditure authority (EA) PL        
Tender call construction Landlord        
SALI-construction services PM        
Turn-over approval (TOA) PL        
Client move-in PM        
Close out document PM        

Annex D—Project cost plan and cash flows

(Attach project cost plan here)

Annex E—Project cost estimate

Note: This table is only an example and contains no data.

Date Total estimate($) Estimate classification Prepared by PSPC contact
    Order of magnitude    

Annex F – Funding summary

Note: This table is only an example and contains no data.

Phase Control point Funding request Approved funding Date approved Approval body
Definition SoRA        
Analysis PA        
Design EA        

Annex G – Risk management plan

(Attach risk management plan here)

Date modified: