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Author: Cecily Dennis

Where is your Project Management Walking Book?

“A PM Framework, Driving order out of chaos, Where is your PM walking book?”

Project management is like a jig saw puzzle, whether large or small; all pieces are necessary for successful completion. How you tackle and separate the pieces within a standard PM framework is monumental to your project’s success.  Generally, an experienced practitioner will identify stakeholders, collect requirements, identify risks, establish controls, monitor tasks- milestones- risk and issues; during which will facilitate execution and closing of the project while exercising proactive oversight, reporting and compliance. Just like starting a new puzzle, every project is different; however practicing the methodology with the techniques gained from previous experience will help expedite the process flow for future engagements. 

In a busy world, we catalog our lessons learned and quickly wrap up an After Action Report or Post Implementation Review to move on to the next project at hand. Is that enough? These are the organizational assets we reference and pass to the next PM, how much better would we be as practitioners if we subscribed to a style of project management that includes documenting the workflow? During, not after, the project ends and not just in a folder on a shared drive but an interactive e-learning, e-doing mobile tool. A living, real time reference guide; creating a ‘hands on” approach to the PM framework for project and program managers through a documented workflow. Similar to a ‘run book’, but created in a rolling wave pattern, your ‘walking PM play book’.

I’ve always admired the discipline it takes to weekly, sometimes daily, compile a meaningful and accurate status report either purposed for one stakeholder or for multiple lines of business. It’s a habit well worth forming, so is the creation of a ‘walking book’. Information, communication and proactive management are the recipe for successful project management. Often times, in particular with program managers, multiple demands inhibit the percentage of time spent on the management of individual projects; jumping in to fix what’s wrong to avoid a catastrophe…..treading water. Remember, taking the time to plan for risk will always decrease frequency of issues. While oversight of budget, schedule and contract compliance are extremely important so is having access to the granular details of the project you’re managing. You may assign a ‘book boss’, it very well may be you. Taking the time to follow this highly effective management style will require an initial time investment, especially during project initiation and planning; however capturing the workflow and requirements in ‘real time’ creates a re-usable tool for future projects, strengthening the success of the current project and provides invaluable insight.

You may be asking yourself, well……..what’s in this ‘walking book’? When you are given ownership over a project, possibly brought in at the ‘kick off’ meeting or maybe even later; what are the first things you want to know; Who’s involved (stakeholders and team members)? What are the requirements/scope? Are there any informative historical documents? Is this a top down or bottom up approach? Did your stakeholder’s buy-in? Is there a clear and concise communication plan? Who has the authority to make the decisions? What matters? What are the risks? Where are the artifacts? A ‘walking book’ will answer these questions and then more, below are the key inputs to a successful outcome, project completion.

  • A checklist: who, what, when, why, & how
  • Project Glossary- project specific defined critical terms
  • Roster and corresponding resources
  • SOW/TO
  • Requirements & Scope Documents
  • Communications Plan
  • Stakeholder and team registry
  • Standard PM Documents-Project charter, WBS, Activities & schedule, HR mgt plan, risk mgt plan, Baselines
  • Artifacts-Screen shots, templates & user guides
  • Sub agreements
  • Vendor documents
  • Status reports and SOP’s
  • Enterprise Factors

Different ‘walking books’ contain different information, however they can apply to a wide range of taxonomies. Owning this document will keep you informed, engaged and most assuredly in the driver seat. Managing resources can be a difficult challenge for PM’s, this ‘at hand’ reference material allows you to manage you resources effectively, exhibiting informed leadership that is controlled, disciplined and consistent which is instrumental to project success and a cohesive team. . ‘Walking’ around with this book models a behavior of remaining in control of the facts for leadership minded PM’s, you have the ability to immediately reference project material. Information, communication and proactive management are the recipe to successful project management; readily supported and available at your fingertips in your ‘walking book’.

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