Very often, in training session and discussions, I am ask ed to share project management templates. Requesters believe by using templates project management will be easier and projects will succeed!
My consistent response is: I won’t share any!
Don’t judge me! I am not mean. I am just against anti-patterns1; relying on templates as a mean to manage projects is definitely one of them. I am not against sharing resources. However I believe using resources in a wrong way – which I believe happens very often in project management – usually back fires.
How? Project management is very hectic and entails developing and maintaining a considerable amount of documents to facilitate, coordinate, direct and communicate project work. However they should be always perceived as a tool rather than a target, which is one of the main pitfalls in project management.
Rather than focusing on the project it self, project managers – who uses templates – spends a considerable amount of effort and time trying to fill each and every section in the template even if they are irrelevant or not considered in the project under consideration.
After all, each project is unique endeavor with unique constraints and conditions. The experienced project manager knows for each project which constraints and conditions to focus on, and accordingly documentation changes. For example a project communication plan or strategy could be a single page and it could be 50+ pages. It varies from one project to another. A veteran project manager knows what sections are needed to support the work of this specific project. She needs to create the minimum that guarantees a successful communication.
Another problem with focusing on templates and filling them is that a project manager who focuses of filling the templates usually announces a premature victory! She assumes after completing the project documents is that project management is complete and all should go with the detailed structure document. Which is totally wrong. Project documents. I am sorry but having templates and filling them will not make a good project manager. It takes much more than this.
So how could you help a new project manager? I personally recommend using checklists.A checklist of things to consider when developing any project document with an emphasis on customizing the documents based on the project constraints and conditions