Describe The Five Major Components Of A Project Management Plan

Paul Naybour

Edited by Paul Naybour on the 21st January 2018 to align more with the answer expected in the APM PMQ exam. For training on how to write a Project Management Plan, look at our APM Project Management Qualifications courses.


The creation of the project management plan starts in the concept phase and is finalised at the end of the definition stage of the project lifecycle.

Five major components of the project management plan are:

  1. Executive Summary  – describes the nature of the project deliverables created to satisfy the project requirements and organisation needs.
  2. Policy and Procedures
  3. Schedules
  4. Timeline plans
  5. Budgets
1) Executive Summary

This section will define the purpose of the project, the objectives express as success criteria, which as a minimum would include time, cost and quality. This would set out the main phases and stages of the project. The executive summary of the project management plan would describe the overall procurement strategy, how the project is being broken into different contract packages.

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2) Policy and Procedures

This section will describe the procedures that will be used to control the project. These will vary from project to project (and organisation to organisation). Typically they will refer to standard approaches in an organisation method. Typically these could include:

  1. A quality management plan; which describes how we will make sure the products are fit for propose.
  2. A health and safety policy which will describe how safety risks are managed.
  3. Project control policy which sets out how the project reports will be generated.

Often this section will just refer to organisational procedures, but the PM has the opportunity to vary these to fit the needs of the project. Maybe increasing the requirements for configuration management, for example.

3) Schedules

This section describes in detail the schedules and logs that define the detailed plans for the project. Again these can be references to external documents or files held in tools such as Microsoft Project.

Included will be a high-level schedule, which highlights the key deliverables in the form of a milestone schedule.  Should also include estimates of cost and resource requirements. Specific contents include

  1. Project lifecycle which sets out the overall phases of the project.
  2. Precedence diagrams which describe the dependencies between the different work packages.
  3. Resource histograms which set our the resources required to deliver the project against the resource availability.
  4. Gantt chart which sets out the timeline the project showing when each activity is scheduled to start and finish.
4) Resource Plans

As a minimum, each project should have a project sponsor and a project manager!

This section would also include:

  1. Responsibility of assignment matrix – which defines who is responsible for the completion of each product
  2. Organisation breakdown structure, which shows the organisation hierarchy of the project
  3. Authority and delegation schedules, which defines the delegation of authority within the project for the approval of documents, expenditures and acceptance
  4. Role descriptions which defines the overall responsibilities.
5) Budgeting and Cost Management

Is the estimating of costs and the setting of an agreed budget, and the management of actual and forecast costs against that budget. Being able to predict with some certainty the rate at which the project is spending its funds is crucial to know whether the project is on track. This includes

  1. A cost plan showing the planned expenditure, with time, for each work package.
  2. A reference to the accounting system to show how these costs will be recorded.
  3. Often a cost and commitment tracker so the PM can keep a track of the overall costs. Often this is separate from the corporate finance systems.
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5 thoughts on “Describe The Five Major Components Of A Project Management Plan”

  1. Thanks Paul for updating this answer – it’s always good to remind candidates answering “describe” questions such as “Describe The Five Major Components of a Project Management Plan” for the the APM PMQ exam (formerly known as the APMP) the importance of adding enough detail to show that they have both a basic understanding and a deeper understanding of the topic.
    And also good to be reminded to actually list the components first that they are going on to describe. The list alone, as you say elsewhere, is worth 20% of the total marks for such a question.

  2. Hi Paul, how does your answer above match with the APM BoK7 PMP components of; Who, How, What, Where, When, How Much and Why (Figure 4.2.10)?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi

      This is from 2018 so is based on BoK6. It’s also not in the format of an exam answer. My who, what, when etc is a prompt list highlighting areas you could cover if you are stuck. It’s not a straight jack to be used in every answer, they are hints if you get stuck. The PMP has lots of content in the what part so you don’t need the others. I hope that helps.

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