Project Management

What Is a Transparent Project Plan & Why Do You Need One?

By | 7 min read | Published

Transparency with stakeholders across a project is essential to keeping it on task.

You just landed a huge contract, one that could have gone to your largest competitor. But you underpriced the big fish in the pond by promising speed, agility, and skills to complete the project on time and within the customer’s parameters.

As a business owner, you’re not worried about your marketing team’s abilities and skills to wow the client. However, with all the career-shifting going on lately, you don’t want vital details of the project to leak to your competitors in a highly contested field for landing new business within your industry. You want your team to succeed on your own marketing with internal projects, as well.

But, you also want to empower your team at every step of the project because they need every advantage possible to deliver above the customer’s expectations. Prioritizing transparency in project management communication is a vital aspect you need to succeed.


What is a transparent project plan?

A transparent plan starts with open project management communication to ensure all stakeholders have access to the information they need. They may need access to documents, emails, meetings, training, or digital and physical assets. These items should be efficient and easy to find, while collaboration software integration represents another vital element you could bring to project management.

You need everyone to be on the same page when it comes to the project as a whole, but you also need to make sure each person is aware of who is doing each task. Project managers must also have a quick and easy way to access documents, notes, and communications among stakeholders to make sure a project stays on schedule.


Why is transparency important when managing a project?

Transparency helps team members stay on task within project timelines, troubleshoot problems as they arise, and move a project along to meet deliverables on time.

In fact, people who use project management software prefer it to have collaboration features, according to a survey of 243 industry professionals who use project management (PM) software weekly. A total of 54% of respondents preferred integrated collaboration and communication tools, while 13% preferred a standalone collaboration tool, according to Software Advice.[1] Collaboration features help owners and managers maintain project management communication and transparency within a team.

In the era of remote work, communication and collaboration are even more important for small businesses. Employees at hybrid small businesses, meaning they work in-person and remotely for portions of the workweek, say the top two challenges of the hybrid work model include maintaining productivity (40%) and having effective communication and collaboration (35%) during a project, according to GetApp’s 2021 survey[*] of 503 decision-makers and 488 staff employees at U.S. small businesses. Since the hybrid model adoption has occurred in most of these companies, two constant challenges include managing productivity and maintaining effective communication and collaboration in the project team. Your project management tools are vital to this ongoing communication with remote teams.

As a project owner or business owner, you may be reticent about having full transparency with everyone in the company. Not everyone needs to know the value of the contract or the contract details. However, you have workarounds if managers and team members are worried about profitability. Rather than define how much a contract is worth, showcase the maximum hours each staffer needs to work on a particular task. Then impress upon them that it becomes more profitable if teams can get the project done faster.


What characteristics define a transparent project?

Owners and managers can still clearly define aspects of a project without divulging its financials.

Deadlines are crucial to moving a project along and completing it on time. Everyone should have a way to track time spent on a project to know if they are meeting their goals. Every goal within a project should be clear and have a clear deadline.

Stakeholders should know precisely what tasks they must accomplish throughout a project. While there can be overlap for staff absences or if someone needs help, having clearly defined roles will help everyone stay on task without duplicating efforts.

Everyone needs tools and resources to accomplish their goals within the allotted time frame. Empower stakeholders in the project by making sure they have the right tools, products, and services at their disposal. Project management communication is vital here because team leads should ask their teammates what they need to succeed.


What are the pitfalls of not having transparency during project planning?

Any project, big or small, can go wrong for several reasons. It’s important to catch problems as they happen because it’s easier to fix right away versus waiting if the difficulty snowballs into something greater further down the line.

Internal miscommunication among staff can delay phases of a project. A lack of communication on the part of a client can also cause missed deadlines, even though that’s not your team’s fault. Build in altered timelines in case something goes awry.

One-fourth of projects have less than a 50% chance of delivering results on time, according to our survey of 422 project managers.[**] This contributes to reduced business value delivered to clients and a greater likelihood of running over budget and beyond the original timeline for completion.

Staying on top of snafus and recognizing that something will not go according to plan is the key to mitigating problems efficiently.


What are the benefits of a transparent project plan?

Having a clearly defined project plan helps everyone working on it and the project itself. Everyone understands the expectations and deadlines, sees the large picture and the small details, and moves the project toward completion.

5.1 Optimizes teamwork

When everyone knows what roles everyone else plays, individuals have a better understanding of the functions of their team in the larger scope of a project. Knowing these things improves project management communication, accountability, and who to ask for assistance (if needed).

5.2 Mitigates headaches

Some tasks can’t start until other tasks are complete. When delays happen, project managers and team members can identify how to sidestep further delays. It also serves as a learning tool to help the entire team understand the importance of hitting deadlines.

5.3 Motivates employees

Transparent deadlines and clear project management communication motivate employees by holding everyone accountable for their actions. Individuals can see exactly what impact their tasks have on everyone else’s as they track a project.


Quick solutions to facilitate project plan transparency

Some quick hits and solutions that can facilitate project plan transparency include:

Share calendars/timelines of all stakeholders. Just knowing when other tasks are complete, especially when there are dependencies, can move a project along at the right pace.

Hold meetings for brainstorming and status updates. Weekly team check-ins and then monthly status updates are appropriate here. Individual check-ins are a good idea to ask if anyone needs assistance.

Use digital tools like project management software, workflow management software, and collaboration tools. They can cut down on mundane tasks while improving communication with everyone involved.

Celebrate successes in achieving goals! Even though a project isn’t done all the way, getting to a new level offers a reason to celebrate.

Stay tuned for part two of this series, where we will discuss step-by-step instructions for creating a transparent project plan.

Survey Methodologies

* The GetApp Hybrid Work Survey was conducted in April 2021 among 503 decision-makers and 488 staff employees at small businesses in the U.S. with two to 250 employees. The goal of this survey was to learn about challenges, preferences, and outcomes related to the hybrid work model.

** Capterra’s Project Management User Survey was conducted in March 2021 among 422 US-based project managers, 367 of which are project management software users, to find out who is using project management software, the features they use or don’t, which ones they wish they had used, and what results they’ve seen from their investment. The qualified respondents are decision-makers or have significant involvement with day-to-day project management at their organization. We worded the questions to ensure that each respondent fully understood the meaning and the topic at hand.


  1. What Teams Want In Collaboration Tools, Software Advice

Looking for Project Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Project Management software solutions.

About the Author

William Delong - Guest Contributor

William Delong - Guest Contributor

William is a professional writer and editor specializing in a variety of industries including legal, medical, marketing, and technology. He has over 13 years of experience delivering SEO-focused and engaging content.

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