How to create reusable project management templates
Nearly all project management resources available on the Web offer “project management templates” for download.
I get it.
People are always looking for inspiration or a quick way to get there.
You don’t need to invent the wheel when there are templates available.
All projects should be compatible with the best templates.
Projects are different. Companies are all different.
They suggest that you “adapt” the template to suit your needs. This means to eliminate everything you don’t know.
Here’s the thing.
Do you have something to add to a template’s value?
You would not have created a useful and usable document if you didn’t.
Filling in the Blanks
You did the hard part. You downloaded the template from the internet and modified it.
You can now use it. Simply fill in the blanks.
Why is index necessary for each entry? Is it necessary for any other purposes?
Why is it necessary to identify the location of stakeholder? They all sit around your table.
Soon, you’ll notice that many fields and columns aren’t necessary.
This template can be shown to your boss next time you meet.
She responds, “Wow, that’s amazing!” “Why didn’t you use our template (read: outdated, useless)?”
“Do we have one?” !”
It’s okay, even if you don’t have the exact document.
They may also use other documents.
These are the problems that begin:
Risk Register is a spreadsheet.
The Word format of the Qualitative Risk Analysis template is available.
Your shiny progress report looks great in Word, but your customers use Macs. They want the report as rich text in an email.
It will take a lot of time to align the information from different templates.
You found a great template. You modified it. You made it compatible to policies, processes, or other tools.
You prepared a presentation for your staff. You want them all to use it.
Your team members will have many “why” questions.
You didn’t get their input.
The guy over there has already devised a practical way of doing the same thing.
There will be a lot of resistance. It all comes down to you being interested in the template.
How to create a reusable project management template?
I believe that any new tool, process or template is a small project.
There are many stakeholders. They have needs. They have your goals.
1. Start with WHY
What are the benefits of this template? What benefits would you like to receive? Which person’s life will you make simpler? Or more difficult?
A lot of assets end up in the “For the sake project management” bin.
You create things to make your life easier. Or, you may introduce something because you want to test it.
Often, there is no benefit.
The first filters are value and benefits.
2. What are the inputs?
Take a moment to think about it. What is it like to gather the information necessary to fill out the template?
Do you need to extract data using another tool? Is there a way to format it? You can then copy it and paste it into the template.
Or do you need to copy it line-by-line?
You might already have some type of template in your team. Ask them. Ask them, especially if you don’t plan on filling it in.
3. Does it work with other documents, artifacts, or stakeholder?
You need to get the buy-in of stakeholders other than your project team.
Are they going to be working on it? Do they need it to be sent to their superiors? Are they able to understand it?
Moreover, the majority of documents used in project management are inputs to other processes throughout the life cycle.
Is the information in this document compatible with other documents?
It’s often true with estimates.
The work may be assessed in man-hours. The man-days are used to calculate the costs. You will report to the client using Story Points.