I was asked this question late last year on one of our project management training courses. I had introduced the group to a range of templates over the two days and one person asked this question towards the end of the day.
I responded by saying that this was the first time I had been asked this question. I threw the question back at the group asking them to go through the book of templates. Their answers included:
- business case
- Project Initiation Document (PID) or Charter
- risk log
- stakeholder analysis
- change control template
There was no general agreement which is the most important. I suggested as there was no consensus maybe the answer was project specific. For example, one person who suggested the change control template was struggling to deal with the many changes in his project. Another person said their department did not treat risks seriously enough, another said the same about stakeholder management. Hence their answers.
Maybe, I added, the key is using the right templates at the right time in the right way!
However…I was pressed by the person who asked the question for my answer! I told them the story about a company I worked for some years ago. I was asked to deliver a project management course as part of a management development programme. (The course was one module among many for aspiring managers.) The training department carried out a survey of the first two groups to go through the whole programme. One question asked was along the lines of; which one element has been the most useful? The main answer from the group was the PID!
But, I added this was possibly company specific as they had rarely put on paper what projects were trying to deliver.
So for me, there is no real answer. Or maybe there is! What do you think?