Project Management Tools & Templates


Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to a broad range of activities in order to meet the requirements of the particular project. A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to achieve a particular aim. Project management knowledge and practices are best described in terms of their component processes. These processes can be placed into five Process Groups: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Controlling and Closing. 

According to project management expert James Chapman, here is what to do if you want to start a new project or if someone has asked you to start a project.



Step #1: "Focus on your business."

The old saying, "Mind your own business," really has two parts: (1) you need to avoid getting involved in things that aren't on your path to success, and (2) you need to know what business you are in and then mind that business with care. This saying may seem like a cliche', but it is the first rule of business success. If you get this one wrong, nothing else will really go right. Implementation of this principle, involves careful project selection and definition. You should define the scope of your project so it embraces the areas for which you will be responsible. If you try to do a project outside of your area of influence, you will be likely to have problems. Understand the organizational boundaries between your business and others'. Look at risk areas in the potential project scope that you will not be able to influence, and try to contain these or define them out of your project area. If this is not a project you should be doing, then don't do it. Effective project selection is the first step towards project success.


If you decide to proceed, here are the steps to get you going:


Step #2: Obtain management sponsorship and a clear charter.

The main reason projects fail is lack of upper management support and commitment, so be sure your bosses want you to proceed. Draft a charter of your responsibilities and scope as a project manager. You should write down what will be expected of you, the general project ground rules, and how you will obtain resources to do the job. You should also write in some of the items you will not be responsible for, just to keep things straight. Review the policies, procedures, and methods in your organization that govern the way projects are done. Edit the charter with your boss until you are both comfortable signing it. Understand your organization's project selection and approval process, and perform the next steps iteratively through the early steps of that process.


Step #3: Understand and document your requirements.

This step is the most important step towards project success. It will serve as the basis for your plan, for your cost and schedule estimates, and it will enable you to manage changes as your project progresses. If the requirements are unclear, make some assumptions and document them using the templates below. In addition, use the templates to put your requirements document under some sort of version control, and then manage the changes deliberately. If there are significant changes, you may need to revisit your cost and schedule estimates. Without a written requirements statement, you will have no way of accounting for changes and managing your customer and sponsor expectations.



Step #4: Document a realistic plan.

You need to document the linkage between your project scope description, the staffing and procurement estimates, and the schedule and then iterate these until they fit the organizational goals and constraints. Create a "project plan" document, and use this plan to communicate to stakeholders the assumptions and intentions of the project effort (use templates shown below below). Break your project into phases, incorporate the phases into your project schedule, and plan updates to your scope document, cost estimate, and schedule for before each phase transition review meeting. In addition to the phase transitions, which are gated by major milestone review meetings, structure the work within each phase into intermediate and lower level milestones, and link tasks to the production of deliverables (like requirements documents, design specifications, conceptual designs, detailed designs, Bills of Materials (BOMs), etc.) Unless your project is small and quick, write a work breakdown structure to help you map charge numbers, schedules, project metrics, etc. Do your best to reconcile the project scope, resource budgets, and schedule goals in a realistic way. If your plan is not realistic, it cannot possibly succeed as planned.


Step #5: Build your project team.

Develop a staffing plan based on your resource estimates of kinds and quantities of people required. Select the key people for your project team, and speak with each one individually to determine their interest level and to solicit their commitment to working productively and constructively on the project team. Steps #3 through #5 should be done iteratively, because key team members should be involved in understanding the requirements and documenting the plan.


Step #6: Assess your risks.

Identify areas of your project where there is uncertainty, with potential for significant negative consequences, and then formally designate these as "project risks." Use the templates below to help you identify your risks and define management actions to avoid, mitigate, monitor, and manage your project risks. Add your list of risks and your risk management actions to your project plan and communicate them clearly at management review meetings.


Step #7: Project Execution

If you have made it this far in your project, your plan is complete, you have obtained a decision to proceed, and you are ready to begin the project execution or implementation phase of your project. Assemble your project team for a formal kick-off meeting; make sure task leaders have clear ownership and responsibility for their project areas; manage your scope, cost, and schedule baselines carefully; and make sure you have metrics in place to monitor all the important vital-signs of your project.


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Project Management Templates - MS Word Document Format

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Project Plan Development & Management Template - PM01

Non Software Project Risk Factors Assessment Tool - PM02

Software Project Risk Factors Assessment Tool - PM03

Project Monthly Status Report Template - PM04





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Download Additional Amazing Project Management Templates
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Template File Description
Successful Project Management Tips Over 60 well laid out tips that will help you successfully manage deliver your projects. Use it as great guide as you execute the project (Word Document)
Team Introduction To Project Management - Kickoff Meeting Presentation Presentation template with the step-by-step details on project management "how to", metrics, documentation, and quality control. Use it to guide and unify the project management team from task initiation to task completion. Great as a kick-off meeting presentation (PowerPoint Document)
Requirements Management Plan Details the steps and activities involved in the initiation, execution, measurement, and tracking of new or changed requirements for a major project (Word Document)
Project Update Report (Word) Monthly project status report (Word Document)
Project Update Report (PowerPoint) Monthly project status report (PowerPoint)
Project Tracking Dashboard Monitor and control sub-projects ad overall deliverables
Weekly Progress Tracking Report - Sample 1 Get timely status of each project to keep on track toward meeting deadlines and objectives
Weekly Progress Tracking Report - Sample 2 Get timely status of each project to keep on track toward meeting deadlines and objectives
Project Management Workbook A comprehensive Excel spreadsheet workbook with tabs that cover all the inputting and reporting elements of good project management. Use it to develop and keep track of it all in one place along with summary reporting.
Project Management Course - 1 Project management course to advance your learning, understanding, and chances for success
Project Management Course - 2 Project management course to advance your learning, understanding, and chances for success
Team Roster Register, track, and document team commitments (Word Document)
Change Request Keep track of project change requests (Word Document)
Risk Register Register and keep track of risks raised (Word Document)
Issues Resolution Keep track of issues resolved (Word Document)
Lessons Learned Document lessons learned for future project improvements (Word Document)
RFP Template For Outside Vendors Provides a sample template to use to develop a RFP for outside vendors (playing a role in the project) to respond to (Word Document)
Presentation and Report Charts and Graphics - Big Time Saver! Very helpful for your reports and presentations.
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