Project Management

Are Your Project Documents Helping or Hurting You?

Once you have gotten your project management certification, you typically want to put that new knowledge and power to work pretty quickly. Reviewing process inputs and outputs and downloading dozens of templates may feel like a way to take the bull by the horns. But such zeal can actually easily overwhelm you. In a post at PM Hacks for IT Professionals, Cheryl Texeira gives some advice on how to approach project management documentation from a practical standpoint.

Determining Documentation

“Simplicity” is the name of the game when looking for templates. Start out with a selection or two that are practical and easy to use. Then find different versions of a template to gauge which sections among them are the easiest for you to fill out. After figuring out what works best for you in those documents, create your own template using only the sections that are easiest and most relevant to you. Texeira’s first two self-made templates were for the project charter and the project team directory.

Any documentation you use needs to be to your benefit, so there might be some times when you need to trim off the excess fat. This especially applies to any forms that are giving you grief. If it’s giving you so many problems, then it’s bound to be difficult for your team as well. You can always ask for feedback for improvements if you feel your business is able to help in this scenario. Although, sometimes just putting the document to the side and coming back to it later with a fresh head is the best route.

Texeira also says the documentation doesn’t have to be formal:

You can white board a business flow, for instance, and take a picture of it with your smartphone and save it in your documentation directory with the name: Process XXX Business Flow.  Of course if you want to clean it up you can do so, but you worked on that business flow with others there who all agreed it was correct.  So if you don’t have time to formalize it, at least your work is memorialized and your process of understanding the business flow is complete.

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