One of the first obstacles an IT manager may face with the work plan is the team questioning (or complaining!) why another artifact is necessary when the project is already subject to a charter, project plan, statement of work, WBS and formal operational change management. Fortunately, these questions are easily addressed. In the case of the charter, project plan, and statement of work, these documents do not provide the necessary detail and are created with a broader audience in mind. The WBS may or may not have the requisite detail, but it is certainly not in the form necessary to meticulously coordinate an implementation event, which may include parties that may not be a part of the project team.
The real value of the work plan artifact is the planning of the work that creates it. As Dwight Eisenhower stated, “In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable.”
The work plan may indeed duplicate some of the items that are identified and documented in the RFC (Request for Change) of a good operational change management process, but it usually surpasses the RFC in detail. While an RFC is intended to provide information necessary for the organization to determine whether a change is scheduled appropriately and meets general criteria for success, the work plan provides exact instructions. In fact, a good change management process itself may require that a work plan for major changes be produced in addition to a summary RFC. Furthermore, those submitting RFCs should enter into the thought processes for creating a work plan whether they actually write one or not.
And let’s face it – we will not go through the thought processes if there is not a written representation of those thoughts.