Documentation

Good procedural documentation will accelerate the project management maturity process, foster support at all levels of management, and greatly improve project communications. The type of procedural documentation selected is heavily biased on whether we wish to manage formally or informally, but it should show how to conduct project-oriented activities and how to communicate in such a multidimensional environment. The project management policies, procedures, forms, and guidelines can provide some of these tools for delineating the process, as well as a format for collecting, processing, and communicating project-related data in an orderly, standardized format. Project planning and tracking, however, involve more than just the generation of paperwork. They require the participation of the entire project team, including support departments, subcontractors, and top management, and this involvement fosters unity. Procedural documents help to:

• Provide guidelines and uniformity

• Encourage useful, but minimum, documentation

• Communicate information clearly and effectively

• Standardize data formats

• Unify project teams

• Provide a basis for analysis

• Ensure document agreements for future reference

• Refuel commitments

• Minimize paperwork

• Minimize conflict and confusion

• Delineate work packages

• Bring new team members on board

• Build an experience track and method for future projects

Done properly, the process of project planning must involve both the performing and the customer organizations. This leads to visibility of the project at various organizational levels, and stimulates interest in the project and the desire for success.

The Challenges Even though procedural documents can provide all these benefits, management is often reluctant to implement or fully support a formal project management system. Management concerns often center around four issues: overhead burden, start-up delays, stifled creativity, and reduced self-forcing control. First, the introduction of more organizational formality via policies, procedures, and forms might cost money, and additional funding may be needed to support and maintain the system. Second, the system is seen as causing start-up delays by requiring additional project definition before implementation can start. Third and fourth, the system is often perceived as stifling creativity and shifting project control from the responsible individual to an impersonal process. The comment of one project manager may be typical: "My support personnel feel that we spend too much time planning a project up front; it creates a very rigid environment that stifles innovation. The only purpose seems to be establishing a basis for controls against outdated measures and for punishment rather than help in case of a contingency." This comment illustrates the potential misuse of formal project management systems to establish unrealistic controls and penalties for deviations from the program plan rather than to help to find solutions.

How to Make It Work Few companies have introduced project management procedures with ease. Most have experienced problems ranging from skepticism to sabotage of the procedural system. Many use incremental approaches to develop and implement their project management methodology. Doing this, however, is a multifaceted challenge to management. The problem is seldom one of understanding the techniques involved, such as budgeting and scheduling, but rather is a problem of involving the project team in the process, getting their input, support, and commitment, and establishing a supportive environment.

The procedural guidelines and forms of an established project management methodology can be especially useful during the project planning/definition phase. Not only does project management methodology help to delineate and communicate the four major sets of variables for organizing and managing the project—(1) tasks, (2) timing, (3) resources, and (4) responsibilities—it also helps to define measurable milestones, as well as report and review requirements. This provides project personnel the ability to measure project status and performance and supplies the crucial inputs for controlling the project toward the desired results.

Developing an effective project management methodology takes more than just a set of policies and procedures. It requires the integration of these guidelines and standards into the culture and value system of the organization. Management must lead the overall efforts and foster an environment conducive to teamwork. The greater the team spirit, trust, commitment, and quality of information exchange among team members, the more likely the team will be to develop effective decision-making processes, make individual and group commitments, focus on problem-solving, and operate in a self-forcing, self-correcting control mode.

Established Practices Although project managers may have the right to establish their own policies and procedures, many companies design project control forms that can be used uniformly on all projects. Project control forms serve two vital purposes by establishing a common framework from which:

• The project manager will communicate with executives, functional managers, functional employees, and clients.

• Executives and the project manager can make meaningful decisions concerning the allocation of resources.

Some large companies with mature project management structures maintain a separate functional unit for forms control. This is quite common in aerospace and defense, but is also becoming common practice in other industries and in some smaller companies.

Large companies with a multitude of different projects do not have the luxury of controlling projects with three or four forms. There are different forms for planning, scheduling, controlling, authorizing work, and so on. It is not uncommon for companies to have 20 to 30 different forms, each dependent upon the type of project, length of project, dollar value, type of customer reporting, and other such arguments. Project managers are often allowed to set up their own administration for the project, which can lead to long-term damage if they each design their own forms for project control.

The best method for limiting the number of forms appears to be the task force concept, where both managers and doers have the opportunity to provide input. This may appear to be a waste of time and money, but in the long run provides large benefits.

To be effective, the following ground rules can be used:

• Task forces should include managers as well as doers.

• Task force members must be willing to accept criticism from other peers, superiors, and especially subordinates who must "live" with these forms.

• Upper-level management should maintain a rather passive (or monitoring) involvement.

• A minimum of signature approvals should be required for each form.

• Forms should be designed so that they can be updated periodically.

• Functional managers and project managers must be dedicated and committed to the use of the forms.

Categorizing the Broad The dynamic nature of project management and its multifunctional in-

Spectrum of Documents volvement create a need for a multitude of procedural documents to guide a project through the various phases and stages of integration.

Especially for larger organizations, the challenge is not only to provide management guidelines for each project activity, but also to provide a coherent procedural framework within which project leaders from all disciplines can work and communicate with each other. Specifically, each policy or procedure must be consistent with and accommodating to the various other functions that interface with the project over its life cycle. This complexity of intricate relations is illustrated in Figure 19-5.

One simple and effective way of categorizing the broad spectrum of procedural documents is by utilizing the work breakdown concept, as shown in Figure 19-6. Accordingly, the principal procedural categories are defined along the principal project life-cycle phases. Each category is then subdivided into (1) general management guidelines, (2) policies, (3) procedures, (4) forms, and (5) checklists. If necessary, the same concept can be carried forward one additional step to develop policies, procedures, forms, and checklists for the various project and functional sublevels of operation. Although this might be needed for very large programs, an effort should be made to minimize "layering" of policies and procedures to avoid new problems and costs. For most projects, a single document covers all levels of project operations.

As We Mature ... As companies become more mature in executing the project management methodology, project management policies and

FIGURE 19-5. Interrelationship of project activities with various functional/organizational levels and project management levels.
Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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