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Document Project Management Processes to Keep Teams on Track

written by: Joe Taylor Jr. • edited by: Marlene Gundlach • updated: 5/17/2013

Beginning project management professionals often dive right into tasks, confident that a project team will keep things moving. However, as veterans of any project cycle have experienced, maintaining accountability often requires keeping diligent notes and tracking approval.

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    The One-Page Principle to Document Project Management

    A desire to document project management should stem from wanting to see a project through to completion, not just a need to create more paperwork. Fortunately, project documentation doesn’t have to be a huge headache. According to business experts, keeping documents down to a single page serves two purposes. First, it reduces the amount of paperwork necessary to keep track of a project. Second, it forces project managers to chunk down issues into a size that executives can manage. Multi-page requests and status updates tend to sit on desks and slow down the project cycle. Single-page forms can usually get approval or generate discussion within moments.

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    It Begins With a Request

    Organizations that manage many concurrent projects function more efficiently with a standardized project request form. (You can download a free project request by clicking this link.) Focusing on the top-level benefits and resources positions a project for quick approval by stakeholders. A project request form signed by clients or sponsors serves as a mandate for the rest of the project team’s actions moving forward. Launching a project without a documented mandate can cause problems with billing and budgeting, especially if senior management shifts during the execution of the project.

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    The Scope Statement

    After receiving initial approval to launch a project cycle, team leaders can lay the groundwork for a successful initiative by crafting a comprehensive scope document. Even if the scope statement doesn’t fit on a single page, it should be brief and clear. Future decisions about project resources will use the mandate and the scope statement as a sort of constitution.

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    Project Change Requests

    Any attempt to document project management should focus on turning informal requests for new features or changes into formal directives. During the evaluation phase of the project cycle, stakeholders may not remember why certain requests were re-prioritized or removed. A signed confirmation of a formal request protects a project team from accusations of misused resources. (You can download a free project change form template by clicking this link.)

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    Project Status Reports

    Expert project management professionals make time to issue a weekly, routine project status report. While the report itself can be used to celebrate team wins and project milestones, it also serves as a kind of public diary that can be referenced during the evaluation state of the project cycle. Maintaining clear communication throughout a project can keep the right team members and stakeholders accountable for their actions, while ensuring a smooth billing and budgeting process.