Template Archive

0

Meetings: Get To The Point

Upon a brief review of my site analytics, I noticed something striking. For the month of February, almost nine percent (9%) of my page views are for one thing:  Free Meeting Minutes Template

Back in March 2009, I wrote a post about helpful tips for running a meeting.  With it was a free copy of my meeting minutes template.  So, I think it’s time for a brief refresher with a few updates.

Free Meeting Minutes Template Trend Data

When Hosting a Meeting:

[1] Write out the purpose of the meeting with actionable events in mind.
e.g. “Provide an updated status, identifying risks and opportunities, and identify new action items.”

[2] Identify your attendee list but only keep those you can map to the actionable events listed in step 1.  There is a difference between an attendee list and a communications distribution list.

[3] Create an agenda.  Never schedule a meeting without a written agenda.
A meeting without an agenda is inefficient and a waste of time.

[4] Identify who will run the meeting and who will take notes.
It should not be the same person.  Both people should know their roles before the meeting begins.

[5] Ensure discussion points align to the agenda.
If the conversation drifts off topic, recommend taking the discussion to another forum.

[6] End the meeting by having the note taker read back discussion points and the action items.
Make sure there is a consensus before the meeting ends.

[7] Send out the meeting minutes within one to two days.
Consult your distribution list to ensure all necessary people get a copy.

As a disclaimer, I hate meetings.  Many are unnecessary.  But, when meetings are necessary, get them done as quickly as possible.  Get in, get to the point, get out, get back to work.

Bonus Recommendations:

[1] Start on time.
If you don’t start on time, you can’t finish on time.

[2] Do not schedule your meeting to end at the top or bottom of the hour.
I’m a fan of the 22 minute meeting.  Have meetings end a little early.  Some people need to get to other meeting and this will help prevent them from being late.


0

The Critical Path Week in Review

January 28 through February 5This week I really wanted to turn up the volume of things I wrote about.  I have a lot to say (and write) about project management and if you missed reading my blog on a given day and don’t have an RSS feed or follow me on Twitter, you’d have to go searching in the archives to find it.  I don’t think that’s good enough.  I should make it easy for you to read what I write.  Hopefully, this week in review will help you find something new while you enjoy your coffee or tea.

1/28/2010

Seeing Value From The Customer Perspective

I don’t care if you’re using Agile, Waterfall, or other methods to deliver value.  What is important is you understand your process and what mechanisms provide the greatest value to the customer.  Just because a process does not appear valuable to you, it does not mean the process does not provide value…

1/29/2010

Refine Your Process If You Must Deviate From It

If you’re looking for a free Microsoft Visio template of a Sprint process workflow, which you can edit at will, you can download it here.  As I mentioned in my post Seeing Value From The Customer Perspective, if you think you need to deviate from a documented or understood process, rewrite or refine your process to account for the deviations…

1/30/2010

The Impact Of Social Networking On Project Management

Good leaders do not operate in a vacuum. They exchange ideas and information with people. Offer free information and it will come back to you tenfold. Listen to knowledgeable people and then make a more educated leadership decision… In this post I compared the traditional communication paths and how that process is turned on its ear, thanks to social networking…

1/31/2010

This Is How You Know When To Kill A Project

A personal rant about paper telephone books and how I never realized, until now, who the real customer was. There is a very similar parallel between the newspaper industry and the printed phone book industry.  They both believe or promote the scarcity of information.  That scarcity justifies cost.  To the contrary, we now live with an abundance of information.  That information is freely distributed and reaches a broader audience…

2/1/2010

The December Numbers Are In For PMPs

Yes, the December numbers are in.  December 2009 numbers for Project Management Professional (PMP®) certifications were published and it looks like there will be over 400,000 holding the certification in 2010…

December Totals
New PMPs (December 2009) 5,403
New PMPs (YTD) 75,107
Total Active PMPs 361,238

2/2/2010

And The Best Methodology Is

I recently commented on two blogs that address similar topics.  Jesse Fewell wants to empower teams to succeed, equip managers to lead, and enable executives to unlock the secrets of high performing organizations.  Jesse wrote a blog post offering the real reasons behind the methodology wars.  It’s an insightful post and I would recommend you go and read it…

The other blog post was from Mike Cottmeyer, someone I turn to on a regular basis to find inspiration and wisdom within the industry.  Mike wrote a blog post asking Why is Agile so hard to sell? Again, it is a very good read and you should set aside some time to read some of his writings…

The Pain Of IE6 And Application Development

There are legacy applications out there that were built on IE6 and it’s not an easy migration.  There are some Agencies which ONLY use IE6 and the users don’t have permissions to install a new browser.  So, what do you do?…

2/3/2010

Updated 10 Step Help To Submit PMP PDUs

All PMPs need 60 PDUs during a CCR cycle so don’t put it off until the last minute.  I document the process on how to claim your require 60 PDUs…

2/4/2010

Using Common Sense With Documentation

Though I really love good documentation, going heavy on it does not guarantee a successful project.  My recommendation is you spend a little time identifying documentation that truly meets your needs.  More importantly, identify documentation that truly meets your customer’s needs…

2/5/2010

Managing Risks and Opportunities

Washington DC is in the process of getting 20-30 inches of snow, over the next 24 hours.  Though I know you can’t foresee all possible issues which may occur over the course of a project, you should make an honest attempt to identify them in order to open a dialog with your stakeholders.  Has weather ever delayed your project or pushed it over budget?…

4

Using Common Sense With Documentation

DocumentationThough I really love good documentation, going heavy on it does not guarantee a successful project.  At my last engagement a product manager asked why she had to go back and complete a business case, a feasibility study, and a charter when her team was already several months into development of  the current release.  She was being consumed by back-filling this documentation.  I believe this was a poor business decision by someone higher in the organization.  They did not “get it”.  Documentation is nothing more then a communications tool.  When improperly used, a tool will not necessarily give you the benefit you need.  Need to drive in a nail?  You wouldn’t use a screw driver, would you?  Then why would you ask someone to use their valuable time and energy to create a document for the sake of creating the document?  Use the appropriate tool at the appropriate time to get the appropriate results.  If there was a 1 year project with a requirement stating there had to be a feasibility study, then you better have one.  You should have done it at the inception of the project.  But, if you have a project that is only 1 month long, use some common sense.

My recommendation is you spend a little time identifying documentation that truly meets your needs.  More importantly, identify documentation that truly meets your customer’s needs.  You’re not impressing anyone with a SharePoint site or filing cabinet filled to the brim with documentation nobody ever looks at.  One good example of a document that provides value is a Project Charter.  I know, there are hundreds of you out there rolling your eyes.  You figure your stakeholders are not going to sign this document (though they should), formally authorizing a project or a phase.  But, this same artifact does document initial requirements that satisfy the stakeholder’s needs and expectations.  Having this document and answering those questions is going to increase the probability of you having a successful project.  Use it as a communication tool!

Since a majority of the search results coming to this website are from people looking for Free Project Management related templates and worksheets, I decided I better give my readers what they are looking for.  You are my customer!  You have expressed a need or want for templates and worksheets.  I should make it my goal to satisfy those needs.

I’m currently working on a new business case template. What will be in it, you ask?

Project Overview

  1. Problem Statement
  2. Project Description
  3. Project Goals and Objectives
  4. Project Scope (what’s included and what’s excluded)
  5. Critical Success Factors
  6. Assumptions
  7. Constraints

Authority and Milestones

  1. Funding Authority
  2. Project Oversight Authority
  3. Major Project Milestones

Project Organization

  1. Project Structure
  2. Roles and Responsibilities
  3. Responsibility Matrix
  4. Project Facilities and Resources

Points of Contract

Glossary

Revision History

Appendices

Did I miss anything?  Give me a few days and I’ll have it done.

I welcome any feedback or comments.  Just post them below.

Regards,

Derek

0

Refine Your Process If You Must Deviate From It

Do you really need documentationAs I mentioned in my post yesterday, Seeing Value From The Customer Perspective, if you think you need to deviate from a documented or understood process, rewrite or refine your process to account for the deviations. Merriam-Webster defines process as a series of actions or operations conducing to an end.  If you are unwilling to modify your process, the deviation is unworthy of being done.

I’ve had a vendor tell me they didn’t need to document their processes because they were agile.  (Notice the lack of an uppercase A in Agile).  Leveraging Agile concepts does not mean a lack of documented process.  IF the customer tells me they see the greatest value in delivering documentation, what is this vendor going to respond with?  Sorry, we won’t deliver value?  If you use Waterfall, you may be used to generating more paper.  You have to consider documentation on a case by case basis.  Some customers have legitimate needs for documentation and other have wants.  Now go back and read that last sentence again.  Needs…Wants…

I personally like to go light on documentation.  What I need and what the customer needs are usually two different things.  That being said, I like to understand the rules (governance) before I start anything.  The Microsoft Visio document I included in my last post was a good example of a high level governance (functional flowchart) document. After completing the flowchart, I then detail each activity in a separate document.  What is the input and output?  Is there a formal deliverable associated with the activity? The idea behind the separate document is you won’t need the flowchart to describe the process.  For those who have successfully navigated a SOX audit, you know what I’m talking about.  But I digress.  The flowchart activities I documented are not groundbreaking.  The process in this case is an Agile Scrum process with a few defined quality assurance decisions points.  You do not need to go into the Nth degree to understand this process.  Identify some touch points where the vendor and customer interface.  Identity some decision points.  That’s it!

I’ve done these flowcharts for several customers.  I’ve created them for both Waterfall and Agile development approaches.  If you’re looking for a free Microsoft Visio template, which you can edit at will, you can download it here. I zipped it to make downloading easier.  If you’re looking for other free templates or worksheets to use on your project or program, you can download them there.

What do you think?  To document or not document.  That is the question. I welcome your comments or feedback.

Regards,

Derek


0

1 of 100 PM Related Questions I Ask Myself

HmmmmmQuestion 1: In the hope to help the Project Management industry mature, should project management related templates and worksheets be freely distributed to the project management community or should there be a reasonable fee charged?

I am a strong believer in the wisdom of crowds.  If there was a consortium of types with diverse backgrounds in Waterfall, Spiral, RUP, Agile, Scrum, XP… don’t you think they could come up with some pretty good stuff?  In this case, all templates would be freely distributed.  I have to admit, the majority of my traffic is from people looking for free templates and worksheets.  It’s tempting at times to put them behind a pay wall and ask for 99 cents.

What do you think?

Image courtesy of misallphoto on Flickr