Using Common Sense With Documentation
Though I really love good documentation, going heavy on it does not guarantee a successful project. At my last engagement a product manager asked why she had to go back and complete a business case, a feasibility study, and a charter when her team was already several months into development of the current release. She was being consumed by back-filling this documentation. I believe this was a poor business decision by someone higher in the organization. They did not “get it”. Documentation is nothing more then a communications tool. When improperly used, a tool will not necessarily give you the benefit you need. Need to drive in a nail? You wouldn’t use a screw driver, would you? Then why would you ask someone to use their valuable time and energy to create a document for the sake of creating the document? Use the appropriate tool at the appropriate time to get the appropriate results. If there was a 1 year project with a requirement stating there had to be a feasibility study, then you better have one. You should have done it at the inception of the project. But, if you have a project that is only 1 month long, use some common sense.
My recommendation is you spend a little time identifying documentation that truly meets your needs. More importantly, identify documentation that truly meets your customer’s needs. You’re not impressing anyone with a SharePoint site or filing cabinet filled to the brim with documentation nobody ever looks at. One good example of a document that provides value is a Project Charter. I know, there are hundreds of you out there rolling your eyes. You figure your stakeholders are not going to sign this document (though they should), formally authorizing a project or a phase. But, this same artifact does document initial requirements that satisfy the stakeholder’s needs and expectations. Having this document and answering those questions is going to increase the probability of you having a successful project. Use it as a communication tool!
Since a majority of the search results coming to this website are from people looking for Free Project Management related templates and worksheets, I decided I better give my readers what they are looking for. You are my customer! You have expressed a need or want for templates and worksheets. I should make it my goal to satisfy those needs.
I’m currently working on a new business case template. What will be in it, you ask?
- Problem Statement
- Project Description
- Project Goals and Objectives
- Project Scope (what’s included and what’s excluded)
- Critical Success Factors
Authority and Milestones
- Funding Authority
- Project Oversight Authority
- Major Project Milestones
- Project Structure
- Roles and Responsibilities
- Responsibility Matrix
- Project Facilities and Resources
Points of Contract
Did I miss anything? Give me a few days and I’ll have it done.
I welcome any feedback or comments. Just post them below.