January 7, 2020

84: Before You Create a Work Plan, Create a Project Profile

Most people think of project planning as the execution plan: Who needs to do what by when. But before we get to milestones, RACIs, or fancy gantt charts, it’s important to align the team up front on the strategy and scope of the project. Without this critical step, it’s easy for projects to go off course, friction to arise between team members, and time, energy and money to be wasted.

In this episode, I walk through a tool I’ve used for years to help me and my team plan projects. The Project Profile is designed to create shared understanding, elicit the best thinking, generate buy-in and streamline the execution.

The full episode guide includes the Project Profile template, a completed example Project Profile, and detailed instructions for how to use it with your team. Get it when you join the Modern Manager community or purchase the full guide at themodernmanager.com/shop.

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Read the related blog article: Do This Before You Start Your Next Project

Key Takeaways:

  • Teams often jump from a goal to a work plan without first aligning on the project’s scope and strategy. This causes unnecessary friction, complexity, stress and lost time/money.
  • Using at Project Profile can align the team, increase buy-in, generate stronger thinking, and streamline execution.
  • The Project Profile consists of a series of sections each of which addresses a different aspect of the initiative. It is designed to get the team thinking deeply about the work and includes (1) Context, (2) Objectives, (3) Goals, (4) Measures of Success, (5) Assumptions, (6) Strategic Questions, (7) Watch-outs, (8) Resources, (9) Stakeholders, (10) Working Agreements, (11) Exclusions.
  • There are two primary approaches to using a project profile. Option 1: One person begins a draft and shares it with the group to enhance as a collaborative document. Then the team gathers to work through it together and agree on a final draft. Option 2: the group works together from the start during a half-day project kick-off session.


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