Drive project efficiency with templates
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Most project managers have more than one project to manage at a time. Therefore, anything you can do to make your job easier and less complicated, the better.
That's where templates come into the picture. If your company has a project management office (PMO), they probably provide you with templates. However, if you don't have a PMO or if it's relatively new, then you might need to create your own.
Here are several templates to develop and use for every project:
1. Project charter
A project charter should include information about the purpose and scope of the project, business requirements, a high-level project timeline, budget and a list of assumptions and constraints.
2. Project plan
While every project has its own unique set of tasks, you should see patterns in the projects at your company that you can put into a template. You might have the same sections for each project such as Design, Build, Test, etc. You may have types of projects that are similar. In that case, you could create a project plan template for each project type.
Depending on the project software you use, you should be able to create a Gantt chart to display a summarized list of tasks in a timeline view. If not, or if that view isn't working well for your executives, consider creating a timeline template in Excel or Visio.
Use swim lanes to display high-level tasks across a month-by-month timeline. This visual representation of the project is useful in discussions with senior leaders.
Create a standard budgeting template for all your projects. Include rows for each expense that's bound to come up regardless of project (supplies, contract labor, employee expenses, hardware, software, etc.). Include notations about how you calculate certain budget items and any assumptions you’ve made to make sure you stay consistent across projects.
At some point, you're going to get questions from the project sponsor or other executives on the status of the project. It's best to provide a standard, weekly executive summary report (or dashboard) to keep leaders informed.
A dashboard should include a list of key milestones and the status of each (not started, in progress, at risk, behind schedule or completed), issues/risks, tasks completed this week and tasks coming up next week.
6. Team organizational chart
If you have a handful of people on the project, this template may not be necessary. However, if you have 20 employees plus several contractors working on a project, you might want to create an organizational chart. This is useful as you onboard new team members so they know who is responsible for what on the project.
7. Team role descriptions
In line with having a team organizational chart, consider creating standard job descriptions for each role on a project. For example: On IT projects, you probably have software testers and developers on each team. Include a description of what you expect someone in each role to do and what skills you expect them to have for that role.
You can use this information if you need to find a contractor to fulfill a role on an upcoming project or to clarify roles and responsibilities for the project team.
8. Lessons learned
After every project, you should conduct a session to discuss lessons learned with the team. Create a template to help you facilitate the meeting and quickly capture comments from the team.
While this isn't an exhaustive list of the possible project templates, starting with these documents can help you become more efficient and effective as you lead the next project.
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