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How to Get Cost-Effective Project Documentation

This article discusses a cost-effective way to get professional project documentation to help you deliver business projects successfully.

Why do so many projects go wrong? Why do project managers repeatedly make the same mistakes?

The answer is, generally, project managers do not learn from their mistakes. Project processes and methods are not documented making them difficult to repeat or improve. Several ‘methodologies’ have evolved to provide a structured framework for project delivery – Prince2 and PMBOK, for instance. At first sight, these methodologies can look daunting, but they remove the need for a project manager to ‘reinvent the wheel’ as they provide a framework for successful project delivery – no matter how small or large the project is.

As we will see, documentation plays a key part of project delivery – not least because the process of creating the documentation helps you to think through each phase of the project to make sure you don’t overlook anything.

PROJECT LIFECYCLE

All projects fall into four phases: Initiation, Planning, Execution and Closure (although Prince2 breaks these into a few more phases).

Planning:

This phase brings together all of the information on whether there is sufficient justification to proceed with the project, establishes a solid management basis for the project and creates an outline project plan based on the information available to those involved during this phase.

Execution:

The Execution phase ensures that each parcel of work is accurately defined in terms of how it will be delivered and by whom, when the parcel of work will be delivered and what the acceptance criteria will be to confirm that it is what is expected.

During this stage the project plan will be revised to accommodate any changes.

Closure:

This final phase focuses on the project board’s agreement to formally close the project either after its successful completion or prematurely (for whatever reason).

To do this the project manager needs to present to what extent the objectives set out in the initiation phase have been met, confirm that the customer is satisfied with the project deliverables and benefits, and ensure that the lessons leaned in delivering this project are documented for the benefit of future projects.

DOCUMENTATION IS THE KEY

As you can see documentation plays a key part in successful project delivery and this can be a heavy burden if an organisation writes its own. Home-grown documentation also suffers from lack of consistency as different project managers will document things in different ways (or not at all).

A cost-effective way of overcoming these obstacles is buy a set of project templates. These have been developed and refined over many projects and are commercially available at a very reasonable cost. Generally these are in Microsoft Word and Excel formats and can be personalised with your company’s logo.

A good set of templates will include detailed procedures to give you step-by-step guidance, real-life examples of how to complete them, and a best practice approach to ensure project success. Of course, being Microsoft documents they can be used over and over again for many projects.

A full set of over 50 project templates covering the whole project lifecycle can be bought for a one-off cost of under $300. Compare this to the time involved in writing 50 documents yourself. Writing two per day would take 25 days – that’s a month of someone’s time!

CONCLUSION

Projects are seldom simple. To successfully deliver a complex project needs a structured approach to managementBusiness Management Articles, delivery and documentation. I hope I have shown a cost-effective way to improve your project documentation and increase your chances of successful project delivery.

Source: Free Articles from ArticlesFactory.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Graham Perry is an IT professional based in the UK. He is owner and Managing Director of Altica - http://www.altica.co.uk/.

Examples of the project documents discussed in this article can be found at: Project Management Templates



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