What is a Competency-Based Learning Program Project Plan?

Delaney Caulfield

What is a competency-based learning program project plan?

Whether you're leading a team of three, onboarding a large group of employees, or simply baking a tray of cookies, to be successful at any task you must start with a plan in mind.  You wouldn't walk into an airport without your passport, or a destination in mind, so why set out to implement a competency-based learning program without a plan to guide your project?

The project plan is the answer to the worries you've voiced and the ones gnawing at the back of your mind. Like an algorithm predicting your next TV obsession, a project plan allows you to foresee any deadline dilemmas, budget blunders, communication constraints, and timeline troubles. Want to decrease your stress before jumping into something new? Project plan. Envision any potential risk or issue that could pop-up? Project plan. Ensure every member of your team is on the same page? Project plan. So, what exactly is a project plan, and what makes them so invaluable?

The project plan is the optimal organization tool for you, providing the planning, resourcing, and scheduling to make your dream objectives a reality.  It's also a living document, subject to any changes or adjustments that may be necessary as the project advances.

Who needs a project plan?


Imagine an all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful entity who can anticipate every possible outcome, provide solutions to problems that haven't arisen yet, and house all the information you could ever hope to need on an individual topic. They would make for the ultimate collaborator. Such is the intention behind the project plan - all critical information is in one place.

Any team looking to execute a vision could benefit from first establishing a project plan.

Why is a project plan necessary for the implementation of a competency-based learning program?

The project plan is a crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to establishing a competency-based learning program. It's the blueprint you draw before you start building. It organizes and outlines every step you'll take as you implement your competency-based learning program. It also provides a broad picture of the scope, objectives, deliverables, scheduling, resources, governance, and control processes of the competency-based learning program.

For a competency-based learning program, project plans can help keep objectives clear and accessible, and promote transparency and open communication among all members of the team. This plan breaks the project down into phases and assesses what resources are required to be successful to complete each step.  


The project plan lowers the likelihood that scope creep, increased budgets, and missed milestones occur - all of which could endanger your project.

 Typically, the project manager would be responsible for creating and leading the project plan, but each team member has their part to play whether assigned specific responsibilities in guaranteeing a particular aspect of the plan is completed, or regularly revisiting the plan throughout the project's life cycle.

There are five phases to the life cycle of a competency-based learning program's project plan. They are:

  • Initiation: The project officially begins
  • Planning: Preparing parts of the project plan for execution
  • Execution: The program is set up and run
  • Monitoring: Progress of the program is monitored, and any issues spotted are flagged and
  • Closure: The project is ready to be concluded

Your project cannot advance in its life cycle until all requirements of each phase are met. As the project does progress, any updates or revisions to the plan's steps that become necessary must be approved by the project manager and project sponsor. The project plan is also shared frequently with key stakeholders and the team as a whole, ideally on a weekly basis, to keep everyone informed on any changes and abreast of the project's development.

The project plan is often presented as a Gantt chart, which can be colour-coded and arranged according to the sequence that the tasks must be completed in. The visual components are helpful for readers to be able to quickly find what they're looking for without having to wade through mounds of information.

This is the first article in a three-part series covering Chapter 5 of our Skilling Up textbook. To access other articles in this series, please navigate below.

Article 2 - How To Implement a Competency-Based Learning Program Project Plan

Article 3 - Coming soon

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Delaney Caulfield

Delaney graduated from McMaster University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Cultural Studies. After working in an assortment of industries, she spent nearly a decade sharpening her writing and editing skills in the fast-paced field of journalism. Now she works as an Instructional Designer with BaseCorp where she enjoys flexing her passion for learning and creativity.