WHY PROJECT DOCUMENTATION TEMPLATES MATTER
As a project manager, having access to a library of proven project management documentation templates can be a lifesaver. Regardless of the industry that you are working in, the smart use of project software can increase efficiency, save time and serve as both an archive of critical historic documentation and repository of knowledge to facilitate your team’s internal and external communications. Additionally, such documentation provides for continuity in the event that personnel depart the project during its lifecycle, and if the project is properly closed, a coherent “post-mortem” examining both successes and failures can lay the groundwork for future best practices.
COMMON PROJECT MANAGEMENT TEMPLATES
Regardless of whether your project is following the more traditional “Waterfall” approach with the project broken into distinct phases, or one of the many varieties of Agile project management which are currently en vogue, it is essential that the project manager be able to collect, aggregate, assimilate, analyze and ideally, proactively act on information which will impact the project’s schedule, budget, profitability, and ultimately, its success or failure according to metrics which were established prior to commencement. All of these factors are readily tracked with project software which is specifically designed for the needs of a project manager.
Finding comprehensive project documentation templates online these days is not a particularly difficult task. A quick search on any of the major search engines will reveal a plethora of project management templates for some of the most common and necessary according to widely considered project management best practices including Status Reports, Project Charters, Requirements Documentation, Risk Management Plan, and much more.
A good starting place to understand project management and essential terms and concepts in broad strokes is the Project Management Institute (PMI) Website at www.pmi.org. PMI is responsible for creating the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK), which is a collection of best practices for managing projects aggregated from across various industries. However, having at least a high-level understanding of the aforementioned template-driven documentation which is utilized in conjunction with project software is essential to effective utilization of human and capital resources and successful prosecution of projects.
WHAT A GOOD PM NEEDS TO KNOW – AND WHEN TO KNOW IT
While some debate whether a project manager needs to have specialized or deep subject matter expertise in an industry to effectively manage a project in a given business vertical, what is vitally important is that the project manager, first and foremost, possesses excellent verbal and written communication skills. This is especially important when working with teams which may be geographically distributed, operating across different cultures, and/or comprised of a wide mix of disciplines with differing needs and requirements.
A good project manager needs to have command of specialized project software, particularly that which enables the tracking of schedules, budgets and resource allocation as efficiently as possible. Among the deliverables which typically are of concern, Status Reports rank very high on the list, as these are typically delivered at least once per week (sometimes more frequently) and should clearly identify significant accomplishments for the period; any deadlines which have slipped or are in danger of slipping; any pending decisions which could impact upcoming and/or mission-critical milestones; any recent changes to project scope; and generally, whether the project still remains on track.
Project Charters are typically utilized at the beginning of a project, following any discovery and definition work, to establish a clear scope for planned work; to identify key stakeholders; to present an overview of the project (which may include elements of a business case) and its key objectives; and typically, to identify risks, estimated costs, duration, assumptions and the organization of the project team as well as the client’s relevant personnel, roles and responsibilities.
Requirements Documentation should always clearly articulate business, functional and technical aspects of a project to set expectations and provide a means for evaluating any changes in scope, complexity or objectives.
The purpose of the Risk Management Plan is to identify and evaluate, according to potential severity and likelihood of occurrence, any risks which might derail the project and to proactively identify means to avert or lessen these risks, or to respond effectively should one come to fruition.
PROJECT SOFTWARE – THE RIGHT SOLUTION
Obviously, a project manager’s job becomes significantly more complex without a robust and capable project software solution which allows for the management of the documentation and various metrics utilized in day-to-day operations. There is no substitute for the proactive monitoring and managing of resources, and with the aid of template-driven documents, this can be readily achieved.