Want to keep learning?

This content is taken from the Manchester Metropolitan University, The University of Manchester & MAHSE's online course, Understanding Innovation in the Healthcare Sciences. Join the course to learn more.
Lady at flip chart giving a demonstration to a crowd

Developing a project plan

In this step, we discuss the tools and techniques available for project planning.

Project planning should include every step of your innovation project, from project initiation to dissemination. This will include definition and scope, measuring current service, design and planning, small scale pilot study to adoption and dissemination.

Project Initiation: You should begin by defining your project, what it will include and what it will not (the scope). This is important as it sets out clear goals for what you are attempting to achieve.

A simple table can be a useful starting point, see Project initiation table in the Downloads.

A key requirement in the success of any innovation project is linking your project aims and objectives to your departmental aims and objectives. Linking your objectives to those of your healthcare provider organisation can also help to ensure its success. A simple table format similar to that shown in the Project aims and objectives table in the Downloads can be helpful.

Benefits realisation

Consideration of the benefits you wish your project plan to achieve helps ensure you identify these early and hence achieve them. It will also help you identify how your individual innovation project contributes to the overall service.

Again a table such as the Benefits realisation table in the Downloads can help.

How to use a benefits realisation template

  1. Identify and record the desired benefits, Step 1.13
  2. Identify the stakeholders who will be impacted by your innovation project, Step 1.9
  3. Identify the outcomes and enablers required (Enablers are those people/groups you need to influence to effect the change)
  4. Determine how you will measure your current service and also measure the impact of your innovation, Steps 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5
  5. Allocate who will be responsible for completing tasks
  6. Prioritise benefits according to project, departmental and organisational aims and objectives.
  7. Identify dates for completion. These have to be realistic, do not try to achieve too much too quickly. Aim for small but consistent steps forward.

You should also revisit your project benefits realisation plan at regular intervals once your innovation project has been completed. This ensures that your innovation continues to deliver the desired benefits.

Communicate your plan to all your stakeholders, to ensure proper buy-in at all levels of the organisation.

Action Planning

Action planning is an essential part of your project plan, helping to summarise how objectives/tasks will be accomplished, by whom and by when. Action planning also helps you break down your aims and objectives into manageable steps.

To begin your action plan, you need to understand your current service baseline. Define your objectives, by asking where do we want to get to. Break down your objectives into smaller manageable steps by considering what steps you need to take in order to achieve your objective (Actions). Allocate actions and agree a reasonable time for completion.

An example Action plan table is shown in the Downloads.

You should review your project plan regularly to ensure your project remains on track.

Some steps for you to consider in keeping you going and on track.

Step 1: Review what is currently going on

  • Check your objectives are still valid
  • Check who is responsible for each action (is everyone clear about what they are being asked to do and how it helps achieve the overall objective)
  • Review progress to date, in particular any successes.
  • Review project milestones and timescales. Are they still reasonable and achievable.
  • List all achievements to date.

Step 2: Communicate success

  • Share achievements with your project team
  • Review progress for internal and external audiences
  • Update stakeholders
  • Assess and address fears of key individuals

Step 3: Listen to others and understand their priorities

  • Seek views and feedback from frontline staff and senior management
  • Think about your communication strategy – is this the most effective approach to get your messages out

Step 4: Think about the team

  • Arrange away-days/time out for the project team to have the time and opportunity to assess and reassess the project aims and objectives
  • Celebrate success

These are just some simple techniques to help you with project planning. There are more advanced techniques, with much more detailed structure such as PRINCE-2 and sophisticated computer programmes that can help with project planning. However, if you are new to project planning the simple techniques will give you an excellent introduction.


Prepare a benefits realisation table for your innovation. You are not required to share the whole table, but you can share sections of text from it in the comments if you wish. Use the comments section to post questions if you come across difficulties and use your positive experience to post comments to assist others.

Share this article:

This article is from the free online course:

Understanding Innovation in the Healthcare Sciences

Manchester Metropolitan University

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join: