Project Plan

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Developing a Project Plan

Creating an open textbook is about more than just writing the content. There’s a lot that goes into making a book, from planning, editing, review, formatting, marketing, and more. If you have decided to create an open textbook project, you might be wondering where to begin. To get started, begin by developing high level details about your project, setting goals, drafting timelines, and building your project team.

Plan Element Description
Project Overview Provide an overview of the project.
Team Members Identify the project partners for the project. This may include: sponsor, authors, editors, etc. The partners section needs to consider all the roles you may need to include in successfully completing the project. For a list of roles and responsibilities, review Open Textbook Publishing Roles


Include a statement(s) that clearly defines the scope of the project.
Budget Identify parts of the project that will require a budget as well as in-kind support that may be available to you. For a list of possible budget needs, review Open Textbook Publishing Roles. For information about costs, review the TLEF Budget Considerations as a guide.

Risks and Constraints

Identify any risks and constraints that may impact the project, including potential contingency plans, should an issue arise.
Goals Include the high-level goals that this project is aiming to support. These may come from existing documents, such as the grant proposal or the contract.


Include each deliverable with a short description. Consider “open” when constructing these statements.
Audience Describe the primary and secondary audiences for the project. Primary audiences will include faculty and students integrating the text into their course. Secondary audiences could include, additional post-secondary institutions, communities, government, and entire sectors that are may be contributing to and benefiting from the project deliverables.


Include milestones that support your path to meet the deliverables.
Measurements of Success Identify what constitutes success, and how you will measure it. Consider things like students impacted, cost savings, diversity of perspectives (geographic, cultural, social, etc.), completed peer review process, number of adoptions outside of your specific uses, etc. These don’t have to be comprehensive but they can help to clarify what success means to your project, beyond just writing a text. For more details about impacts, review Collect Impact Data.


Identify the open copyright license (e.g. CC BY) your book will carry. You may want to link to external resources where readers can go for more information on the CC BY license, such as the Creative Commons website.

Download Item.png Downloadable Templates

Project Plan [Word file] template

TLEF Fund Budget [Excel] and the OER Fund Budget [Excel]

Developing a Project Timeline

There are many steps to producing a textbook, and each of those steps involve multiple responsibilities. While your project plan will ensure the goals and scope of your project are maintained, the actual work of completing your project in a timely manner requires a well-planned timeline that outlines how long it will take to complete each part and to build in time should issues arise.

People work and write at different paces. Even the same people work and write at different paces, depending on internal and external variables that can change at any time. That said, developing a timeline is an important process for clarifying expectations and ensuring optimal team work. Typical timelines are 3-12 months.

Often the best timelines are created together, between authors and project mangers, working backwards from a deadline. The deadline may be personally set, or determined by the academic calendar, a grant or other external organization. It’s also useful to consult with others you’re working with — freelance editors or proofreaders, for example — to see what their schedules are like and what kind of turn-around time they need.

The following are key elements to consider when building at timeline:

  • Research - Requires your team to track all references carefully as would be done for any academic work. If you are using openly licensed text, images, or other resources, place close attention to the legal requirements for the licence.
  • Gather or Create Resources - Resources may include photos, illustrations, graphs, tables, figures, videos, audio files, or spreadsheets. If you are using someone else’s work, it must be openly licensed or in the public domain.
  • Write the Book Outline - This includes chapters, chapter sections, front and back matter, learning objectives, exercises, key terms and takeaways, and the glossary. Outline how chapters and chapter sections will be laid out.
  • Find Supplemental Resources - Not all textbook authors or publishers create ancillary resources, such as test banks, for their books. However, many instructors and students find them helpful, and textbooks with ancillary resources are often highly adopted.
  • Plan Each Chapter - Determine the structure for each chapter in addition to the research and resources required to write it. Record these in your timeline beside the designated author. Use this information to calculate how long each chapter will take to complete. Remember to build in extra time for the beginning phase of the project, as this is when you and your team are learning to work together and with the textbook, and for any unanticipated delays.
  • Peer Review - Schedule time for the peer review of your textbook by subject-matter experts.
  • Copy Edit - Have the book copy edited.
  • Proofread - Have the book proofread.
  • Prepare for Publication - Conduct a final check of your book and set up print-on-demand copies.
  • Promote - Launch and communicate about your new book.

Download Item.png Downloadable Templates

BCcampus Project Timeline [Google Document]

Additional Project Plan Considerations

Memorandum of Understanding

If you are working on a project that has a large team, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) may be a helpful tool. An MOU helps team members understand their role and involvement in the project at the outset. The MOU clarifies team roles and responsibilities and supports members in setting the same expectations and standards that apply equally to all members.

Download Item.png Downloadable Templates

The Rebus Guide to Publishing Open Textbooks (So Far) Memorandum of Understanding [Google Document]

Adaption Statements