Project management is not easy. Don’t let anyone ever tell you it is…if they say it is, then they likely don’t really know too much about it. Managing teams and customers is never…ever…easy. And to make it even more mysterious, most people don’t know what you really do if you tell them you’re a project manager. Think of the show “Friends”. No one really knew what Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry) did for a job on the show most of the time. That was the running joke. And most people don’t really understand what project managers do for a job.
Online, project management is generically defined as “the discipline of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria.”
There are project managers in many different industries and many different professional lines of work. Of course we have IT, but there are project managers in construction, realty, engineering, aviation…..everywhere. In fact, the terms has come to be a little overused…spreading into Sales, etc.
The key in any profession – including project management – is best practices and efficient use of time and resources. And at the core of the practice is the never-ending attempt to duplicate successes. Do you do that by luck? No. Well…maybe once. But you can’t continually repeat success through luck. One key way project managers know they can deliver more consistently and have a better chance to repeat successes, is through the use of available and downloadable templates as well as their own home-grown templates from past successful projects.
Using templates to keep project management life sane and successful
Project managers are busy – no doubt. And using templates to manage projects, organize teams, analyze financials, forecast resources, document risks and issues, and put together plans and various deliverables is one key way PMs can remain sane and stay on top of the often ever changing project landscape. Anything that can be done to make their job easier and take a bit less time is usually a very welcome addition. I personally have many templates and past “shells” from successful projects and project deliverables that I use on nearly every single project I manage – especially when I am running five or six projects concurrently. Why re-invent the wheel?
Some of the many options and benefits for utilizing available project templates:
- Low cost and often free way to save time and money on the project
- Helps ensure future success when turning to past used templates that yielded favorable results on a past project
- Projects and software requiring or offering interaction with other productive software offerings such as Office 365 and SharePoint can help project managers better oversee engagements and collaborate with their project team members
- Can help speed up work and bring about a better sense of confidence and control to the project manager and his team
Summary / call for input
Why re-invent the wheel? If templates are available to make your job as a project manager easier, use them. And if you are using one of several available project management tools that utilize free templates to link to and interact with other productivity products, the success of that team collaboration and project management initiative just got a lot easier. BrightWork has a set of free project management templates for SharePoint and Office 365 that will instantly make it easier to get your projects started, tracked and controlled through the life cycle. Also, don’t overlook the obvious of using your own home-grown templates like past project schedules that provide a great groundwork for building your next draft schedule on your next project. Using these – or any established templates…commercial or personal – help to ensure that key common deliverables like communication plans and design documents and their associated tasks aren’t left out in the detail work of just getting the project off the ground when you’re already busy and looking for help.
Readers – what about your experiences with templates? Are you a big user of free, available project templates when it comes to speeding up the planning process of the project? What have you found to be helpful and successful practices of using templates? Any specific sites to suggest or share? (and don’t forget to grab your SharePoint/Office 365 templates!)