Why do we use so many templates in project management? Great question isn’t it? You can name many project templates:
lessons learned log
But why oh why do I say it’s all in the head? On two recent project management programmes participants have said that this is where they keep information! They try and manage large complex projects without writing anything down, A few people said they had very little in terms of project files – on line or in hard copy. This is a risk; a huge risk for project managers and their sponsors.
So let’s come back to the question; why do we use so many templates in project management? There are many reasons; the list is extensive. Let’s take a look at some of these:
* its a record of what you are doing. Ever needed to go back and check that what you are doing is what you should be doing? It’s a reference point for you
* a key group of people in projects are your stakeholders (those with an interest or who will be affected by the project). These can be the trade unions, maybe a key customer group or maybe an internal department such as marketing and accounting. They will certainly be interested in your project and the forms will help in the overall communications process
* the forms can be used to measure project progress. For example; the business case should be checked regularly by the project sponsor (the person who has ultimate responsibility for its successful delivery) to ensure it is still meeting its original rational. The risk log should be checked regularly by the project manager and the team, the same with the communications chart
* version control; my admin manager tells me that I need to tighten up on my version control; and you know what, she is correct. Each time you complete or amend a template you need to check that the version of the form is updated. Too many times people are working on old versions of templates. Version control can help in the smooth management of the project.
* milestones; many projects are managed by milestones. Use of project management templates can help the team know where they should be; where they are.
* monitoring: a key part of the project management life cycle is to ensure that the project is delivering what it set out to deliver. The forms can help enormously to pin point where the project is; whether it is on schedule or off it. Use of the highlight report can actually save time as you only report on key highlights of the project since you last reported and the report is only 1 or 2 pages long
* approval: one of the issues project managers face is not knowing who is responsible for signing off (agreeing) some of the documents. This person (or maybe it is a project board) receives the document and approves it or otherwise. Use of these documents helps cement the approvals process
*communications; I mentioned earlier on that use of these forms can aid communications in projects. Use of the communications template or the PID can really smooth the path for your project
There are of more reasons however I hope that this has convinced you of the need for using written documents.
Don’t forget; put what’s in your head onto paper and it can contribute greatly to project success