Key Documents for Success
Project documentation is used to define the way in which a project will be managed and the governance surrounding it.
A project charter is the key document during the initial stages of a project. But sometimes the project team jumps ahead into the project without taking the time to craft a useful project charter that helps guide the project through the rough waters. While many organisations and project management methodologies outline what is needed for a charter, it is important to make sure that the final document will be useful to the project team.
The mnemonic READY is useful when creating a project proposal. It provides a useful memory aid to help ensure your proposal is relevant, engaging, authoritative, directional and yield optimised. This article describes how to write a compelling and well thought out proposal that will be hard to ignore.
As a practitioner and supporter of Agile and Lean, I am a strong believer in doing things for a reason and only those things that add value. So when it comes to documentation, many with basic exposure to Agile may think that the methodology means that project documentation is not created. Instead, it should be more about creating meaningful plans and if that means documentation, then it should also add value and be the proper amount. I do not believe in producing documentation (unless the contract specifically requires certain documents) for the sake of documentation. While many technical individuals balk at the thought and mention of documentation, I personally see some real benefits.
Having 100% of project proposals accepted usually means that a freelance developer has had very few clients. Low percentage rates usually mean that proposals are being sent to people who didn't ask or the proposal writer simply needs a few good "getting warmer's" in the right direction. The following tried and tested tips are to encourage the 100%ers to write more proposals and the low raters to take heart and give it another try. Let's get started...
During the life cycle of a typical project, a project manager can produce up to fifty different types of documents to facilitate the planning, tracking and reporting of the project. Documents range from feasibility studies, resource plans, financial plans and project plans, to supplier contracts, post-implementation reviews, change request forms and project status reports. The fact is, the manner in which project documents are managed by project leaders can either be the driving force behind a project's success or the bottleneck that often places a project in despair resulting in its failure to meet its time line, budget and scope.
The project charter has been around for as long as the concept of work. The Egyptians used project charters to create the Pyramids. So did the Greeks to erect the Parthenon. Even the Romans used a project charter to create the Coliseum. Little Johnny used a project charter to construct his miniature house made of Lego blocks. As different as the times and methods used to create these structures were, one common thread exists, success was based on the creation, maintenance and oversight of a project charter.
If you are already familiar with the ubiquitous Project Brief and would like to try something new, here's an idea. Why not try writing a Funding Proposal.
The Statement of Work, or SOW, is the bible for the work the project must produce. The SOW is a key governance tool whether it is being used to direct work for a vendor or contractor, or used to direct the work internally, the SOW must contain a description of all the work that is expected, so how do you go about writing one for your project?
Initiating a project usually involves writing one of two documents; a Project Charter or a Project Initiation Document (PID). Now a great many things happen during initiation. High level scope is determined, deliverables set and budgets estimated. If these aren't investigated and documented effectively it can adversely impact the entire successful delivery. But which document is better for ensuring this?
If you want your project to succeed, you need to spend a little time managing it. The trouble is, most people see project management as a big overhead. What is the number one thing you need to do to successfully manage your project that doesn't take up much time?
Project management is a necessary service to be provided for all but the smallest project. What is the service that is being provided though? Is it a customer services role or an exercise in paper production?
Since their first introduction, Gantt charts have become an industry standard. They are an important project management tool used for showing the phases, tasks, milestones and resources needed as part of a project. This video presentation is a step-by-step guide to creating a Gantt chart using Microsoft Excel 2007.
Progress reporting is a key activity of project management. The project manager should issue reports to stakeholders regularly. Keep the report brief and sum up the key points in the project. This article lays out a simple approach to reporting progress.
Formal chartering may be the step most frequently overlooked by organisations when beginning projects. Root cause analysis of project failures often identifies "poor vision" or "lack of a charter" as a key reason projects go awry or are cancelled.
"Ensure your documentation is short and sharp and make much more use of people-to-people communication." - Bentley & Borman
"The success of any project is crucially dependent on the documents produced for it." - John Rakos