Project Management Tools and Templates are critical components for consistent project management delivery and research shows that they help improve the success rate for projects.
Recent research shows that senior management and Project Management Offices are struggling with the issue of consistency in the management of their projects and there is a significant opportunity for organizations to improve their productivity, market share and shareholder value through improved management of their projects. Using project management templates is a good way to ensure consistency of project delivery. To create your templates you should give consideration to the following factors.
1. Establish Project Governance
Establish your terms of governance. This can be done through a PMO or management committee. Governance establishes decisions that:
- Define expectations for how projects will be managed.
- Grant power to those responsible for the successful management of projects.
- Identify how project performance will consistently be measured.
- Clarify how all projects will be managed on a consistent basis.
This creates an organizational challenge; “how to ensure the consistency in the management of all projects?” and “what project management templates and tools should all projects use?”
2. Ensure Consistent Project Management Methods
Design your project processes (often referred to as project management methodologies or frameworks) so that they are can be adapted to all project teams and sizes of projects-whether large, medium or small. Larger projects will need a “stage-gate” approval process with specific templates which require approval signoff at each gate. When organizations establish simple concepts and processes, project managers and teams more readily accept them. They understand how these will help them to be successful.
Once the project processes are established, focus on project management training, mentoring and leading by example. Add a simple reporting system so that management and/or the Project Management Office can validate that projects are following the defined project management methods.
Ensure that all your project management methods are clear and comprehensive. They will help project teams to manage projects in a consistent manner. Complex and time consuming project methods, tools and templates force many project managers to abandon them, circumvent them and/or manage their projects in an ad hoc manner. The goal must be to ensure that project management quality is consistent.
3. Identify Project Management Processes
Some organizations have Project Management Offices. Others ensure consistency in the management of projects through a management committee established for this purpose. In either case, they will oversee the established project processes and ensure that each project is applying them correctly and consistently. This provides them with the assurance that each project is being managed as a quality project. Commonly used project management processes that can be established include:
- Project Management process
- Business Requirements process
- Customer requirements process
- Project Scoping process
- Project Planning process
- Project Change Management process
- Risk Management process
- Communication process
- Close-out and evaluation process
- Project Knowledge-transfer process
Before starting from scratch to develop your project management processes, tools and templates, check out the various commercial templates on the market. There may be a great basic template that you can customize for your organization that will save you time and effort.
There are some new templates on the market, such as “Project Success Templates®” that will allow you to add your own logo for customization. As well, it includes a module with Project Management Competency Assessments for the roles of Project Manager, Project Team Member, Business Analyst and Project Auditor which is a great project management tool for project team selection.
4. Identify Project Management Tools and Templates
Creating tools and templates that can be used on all projects reinforces the organization’s approved project methodologies and processes for managing projects. It will also provide a time-saving service to project teams and ensure consistency because all projects will use the same tools and templates. Commonly used tools and templates include:
- Project Scope Statement
- Business Requirements Document
- Milestone Report
- Change Request
- Risk Management Report
- Reporting Templates
- Meeting Template
- Close out report
According to the PMO research report “How Project Management Offices Can Improve Organizational Effectiveness”, there is not much change in the top project management tools and templates used by Project Management Offices between our 2005 and 2010 studies. The most common ones continue to be the project management process itself (79% in 2005 and 89% in 2010), Change Request (74% in 2005 and 83% in 2010), Reporting templates (72% in 2005 and 73% in 2010), Scope Statement (71%) and Issue Logs (62% in 2005 and 71% in 2010).
Organizations that fail to ensure consistency on the use of project management processes, tools and templates have a higher risk of failure in the delivery of their projects. The consistent application of similar processes, tools and templates to all projects helps shape the culture of the organization into a stronger project management environment. This will be result in everyone knowing what template to use and what process to follow, every time, because it will be just a part of what everyone does when managing a project.