Creating a Work Plan From Scratch: A Step-by-Step Guide

Last updated: January 23, 2023 5 min read

Every project needs a work plan. Though used primarily for projects requiring input from several people, you may use a work plan for personal or one-person projects.

But for this article, let us explore work plans through the lens of project management.

What is a Work Plan?

A work plan is a document that outlines the formal pathway to complete a project. It serves as a roadmap for achieving specific objectives and helps individuals and teams to stay organized, focused, and on track to achieving their goals. You can use work plans in various personal, business, and professional settings.

Work plans should clearly outline the tasks, resources, and timelines needed to reach an end goal. The language in this plan should be as transparent as possible so all contributing project members can comprehend precisely what their roles are.

Types of Work Plans

There are several distinct types of work plans, each with its own unique features and uses. However, listed below are just a few examples.

1. Employee Work Plan

Employee work plans are small-scope plans. Usually, they are used for painless or lightweight projects within departments in a company for small groups of people or for personal use. These are the projects that do not require authorization from higher-up management.

Employee work plans outline an individual employee's tasks, responsibilities, and goals for a specific period. This document is typically created and reviewed by the employee and their manager and serves as a tool to track progress, measure performance, and align individual efforts with the organization's broader goals.

The components of this plan comprise a goal/objectives, budget, expenses and materials, and a timeline for completion. It also includes tasks/responsibilities and performance metrics.

It is important to note that the employee and their manager should work together to create the work plan and be open to discussing any adjustment or development needed in the plan. This way, it will build mutual trust and understanding of what to expect from the employee and help them focus on their work with clarity and direction.

2. Business Owner Work Plan

Used by business owners or entrepreneurs, this work plan is like a lean business plan, as the name suggests, which is a simplified version of one's general business plan. As a business owner, having a well-crafted work plan is essential to the success of your business.

Making your business plan lean is useful when you want to tweak it for a specific audience. A complete business plan has a lot of information, but a lean version helps narrow it down to the most critical components for your particular use.

This type of plan is for internal use only, such as for new hires on their first day of work. The business owner’s work plan includes the following: (1) Business model (2) Schedule (3) Strategy (4) Tactics.

3. Manager Work Plan

This work plan is like the employee work plan; however, it covers a larger scope and is suited for managers. It is like a strategic plan. It includes:

  • The project’s benefits to the business
  • In-depth information about the budget of the project
  • Statistical information predicting how the projects will improve business

A manager's work plan is a tool to guide the manager in leading their team and achieving the organization's goals. One of the primary benefits of a manager work plan is that it helps managers to stay organized and prioritize their time and energy.

With so many different responsibilities and tasks to manage, it can be easy for a manager to get bogged down in the day-to-day operations and lose sight of the bigger picture.

Creating a Work Plan

Here are some steps to follow when writing/drafting your work plan from the ground up.

1. Define goals, and objectives

Define what needs to be done (goals) and the steps(objectives) to get there. Clear goals and objectives help to define the purpose of the work plan. Allow your goals to focus on the big picture (the end goal of the project) and your objectives are actionable ways to achieve them.

For example, you may have a goal of driving 100,000 people in traffic to your new website in 6 months for a new product app, and the objective may be to start a new social media marketing strategy.

You can clearly define them by using the SMART framework:

  • Specific: Define exactly what your goal is
  • Measurable: Ensure it is trackable.
  • Attainable: Make them realistic.
  • Relevant: Is it necessary to get done now?
  • Time-Bound: Set a timeline to complete it

The very act of defining your goals and objectives is like compartmentalizing. It helps you organize your work better to see what needs to be done and which directions or steps to take.

Break up tasks into smaller chunks or a checklist to help you reach your desired goal quicker and with clarity while ensuring it is measurable and realistic.

2. Create responsibilities/roles for team members

After compartmentalizing then you can create responsibilities and assign them to your team members. You may want to consider the strengths, weaknesses, skills, or expertise of the individuals on your team so you can assign correct roles/tasks.

Depending on the project's structure, a pecking order of leadership may be required to oversee the progress of the responsibilities assigned. So, then teams with team leaders may be assigned to ensure everything is on schedule and within budget.

3. Set Timelines/Deadlines

Create a timeline for the project in general and for the tasks/objectives/roles/responsibilities within the project. Use your estimates of the time and resources needed for each task to create a timeline for the project.

Timelines give everyone an estimated knowledge of how long it may take to complete the project at hand and serve as a guide or goal to help prevent a project from taking too long to complete and keep your business from accruing extra expenses in labor and materials.

In addition, timelines help you to analyze estimated times against actual times it takes to complete certain tasks or in other words, overages.

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4. Outline a Budget

Any good work plan is detailed in the allocation of funds so you can see where you may need additional funds and where issues in paying out may arise.

It should show a breakdown of the costs per labor and material, how tasks are assigned to team members, and timelines.

Working with a budget also serves as a gauge. As the project progresses, it helps to know how aligned or not every part of the project is to the expense goals and timelines already outlined.

When something is outside the budget, it allows you to evaluate whether it can be pulled from other areas or increased in general.

5. Consider and Understand your Constraints

In simpler terms, consider potential risks or roadblocks to the progress of the project. Especially the triple constraints.

This step in the process of creating a successful work plan from scratch is critical. No matter how good a work plan may be, anything can go wrong.

In project management, the "triple constraints" refer to the three main factors that must be balanced to successfully deliver a project: scope, schedule/time, and cost/budget.

These three factors are often referred to as the "iron triangle" of project management because they are interrelated, and any change in one will affect the others. They are:

  • Scope: The scope of a project refers to the specific tasks and deliverables that must be completed to achieve the project objectives. It is important to have a clear and detailed understanding of the project scope at the start to plan and execute the work effectively.
  • Schedule: A project schedule helps to keep the project on track and ensure that it is completed within the agreed-upon timeframe.
  • Cost

You must balance your project management's triple constraints to deliver a project successfully. For example, if the project scope is increased, the schedule and cost will also likely be affected. If the project schedule is accelerated, it could impact the project scope and cost.

Managing these constraints is a crucial responsibility of the project manager, who must make trade-offs and decisions that balance the project's competing demands.

It is important to note that one of these constraints can be more important than the others, depending on the project and the organization.

For example, the schedule may be the most important constraint in a project where the deadline is tight and cannot be moved or delayed, and the cost is secondary. The project manager will have to find ways to compress the schedule while keeping the other constraints as much as possible.

6. Go Over Risks and Accountability

Accountability is an important aspect of any work plan, as it ensures that individuals and teams take ownership of their tasks and responsibilities and follow through on their commitments.

In a work plan, accountability is established by assigning specific tasks and responsibilities to individuals or teams, along with clear timelines and deadlines for completion.

By clearly understanding what is expected of them, individuals and teams are more likely to take ownership of their work and ensure that it is completed on time and to the desired level of quality.

In addition to assigning tasks and responsibilities, establish a system for tracking progress and holding individuals and teams accountable for their work.

You can set performance metrics, regular check-ins, and progress reports. These tools allow managers and team leaders to monitor progress and identify any issues preventing individuals and teams from meeting their goals.

Performance reviews and evaluations hold individuals and teams accountable for their work. These evaluations can be used to assess performance against established goals and objectives and identify improvement areas.

Another important aspect of accountability in a work plan is clear communication and open feedback. Regular communication and feedback help to ensure that team members are aware of their progress and can identify and address any issues that may arise.

Individuals and teams are more likely to take ownership of their work by being held accountable, resulting in a more productive and efficient organization.

7. Use a Project Management Tool

A project management tool can help create a work plan, as it provides a centralized location for storing and organizing all tasks, responsibilities, and information related to a project.

A typical project management tool like Vineforce will include several key features you can use to create a work plan, including:

1. Task management: A task management feature allows you to create and assign tasks to specific individuals or teams and set deadlines for completion. This feature outlines the tasks and responsibilities that need to be completed to achieve the work plan's objectives.

2. Collaboration: Many project management tools have built-in collaboration features, such as team chat and document sharing. For the Vineforce project management app, we use Microsoft Teams and OneDrive/SharePoint from the MS365 platform. This allows team members to work together in real time, facilitates communication, and improves accountability among the team members.

3. Workday Planning: Vineforce uses data from your Microsoft 365 account and daily activities to help you plan your day more effectively. It suggests relevant tasks, times to take breaks, the optimal number of tasks to add to your day, or when to block out your calendar to learn new skills.

4. Automation: The use of automation connects all your tools and automates all your workflow processes. The Vineforce Power Automate connector does that for all your automation needs.

5. Work schedules: Your project management tool like VF should create work schedules that allow team members to collaborate effectively regardless of differences in regions and time zones.

6. Files/Links: Accessing files and links in a single searchable interface. With Vineforce you can do so from OneDrive/SharePoint and email attachments.


Considering the seven steps outlined above, your work plan is guaranteed to be effective and efficient. Coupled with the Vineforce work management tool, you spend less time crafting your plan while achieving more in the process.


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