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Best Practices of Project Management: Standardizing Procedures

written by: Joe Taylor Jr. • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 7/6/2011

Most career training focuses on routines instead of exceptions. Yet, many stakeholders and project sponsors often ask for favors and considerations. Keeping procedures consistent is a best practice of project management that keeps projects fair and relationships strong.

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    Why Keep Procedures Consistent Across Multiple Projects?

    Every project manager can recall at least one initiative that a manager or a stakeholder has asked to “keep on the down low.” In actuality, it’s those extra requests and hallway conversations that contribute to project killers like scope creep.

    Sometimes, stakeholders will want to “fast track” a project by skipping important steps. In other cases, stakeholders assume that less important initiatives can be handled with fewer formalities. Best practices in project management involve making sure that stakeholders handle every project using consistent methods and documentation, regardless of its priority within an organization.

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    Always Use Project Request Documentation

    Managers often fear project documentation because it suggests that resources are spent writing things down instead of actually adding value. Project managers can keep documentation that’s simple and clear by using philosophies like one page document templates. Minimizing formalities within busy teams doesn’t have to mean ignoring them, especially when documentation can prevent major project management disasters.

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    Standardize Meeting Formats and Attendees

    Hallway conversations like the one above are just one distant early warning for project managers. Requests for changes during informal meetings, especially when project sponsors aren’t present, can lead to problems during the implementation and evaluation phases of the project cycle. Project managers can ensure that teams stay focused by following standard meeting protocols.

    In many organizations, a meeting isn’t considered “official” until the following criteria are met:

    • Attendees are notified in advance, even if it’s just a few minutes in the future.

    • Each meeting must have a formal and specific agenda.

    • Notes must be taken at each meeting and distributed to all team members.

    Formalizing meetings this way accomplishes two of a project manager’s major goals. First, it forces meeting-prone team members to manage time more effectively by pushing more meeting topics into e-mail or memo format. Second, it puts an entire team on notice that all project business is documented, even informal meetings.

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    Publish Meeting Notes and Milestones

    As evidenced by the above example, publishing meeting notes helps to keep everyone on a team up to speed about discussions and concerns. Published meeting notes can also document any shifts in scope, which will have to be justified during the evaluation phase of the project cycle.

    Publishing and celebrating milestones also fills the crucial need for ongoing evaluation through documentation. Keeping a running log of tasks completed and milestones reached can help teams reconsider some of the challenges they faced on the way to project completion. Maintaining this level of communication on each project can help teams reach a consistent level of quality over time.

Best Practices of Project Management

Business leaders have identified five critical areas where project management professionals can help their teams excel. These best practices of project management apply to teams in any kind of industry, under any conditions. All five best practices require tactical skills and organizational courage.
  1. Best Practices of Project Management: Following the Project Cycle
  2. Best Practices of Project Management: Standardizing Procedures
  3. Best Practices of Project Management: Clear Communication
  4. Best Practices of Project Management: Dealing with Change
  5. Best Practices of Project Management: Choose the Right Tools