While every project is unique in its own way and may need specific tools to succeed, there are some basic templates and processes which are commonly used to manage projects.
Project scope template
The scope of a project is everything that the project team will change, deliver and is responsible for. The processes of delivering the project scope should be factored into a project plan. The scope is usually clearly defined by the planning and development phase of any project. Download a project scope document template (DOC, 36K).
Project plan sample document
A project plan is a detailed proposal for achieving the objectives and goals of a project. It should detail the 'what, when, how and by whom' of any project and is a key resource to successfully managing work. Project plan templates can vary depending on what you are trying to achieve, but there are many examples available for free or from professional bodies.
You can also use a software program to compile a project plan, although this is probably best suited to large or complex projects. A simple tool such as a year planner or calendar can be effective for working out the timeline and showing the requirements for a smaller project. Download an example of a project plan for a premises move (DOC, 191K).
Project risk register template
Risk or issue registers are common tools for identifying, analysing and managing risk (something which has not yet occurred) and issues (something which has already occurred). Using these registers, project teams can estimate and adjust their planned activities, taking into account risks and issues, thereby managing their impact. Download a project risk register template (XLS, 22K).
SWOT analysis example
A strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis is a commonly used strategic tool to evaluate a project or a business. In relation to a project, the analysis can be defined as:
- strengths - factors within the project or organisation that are helpful to achieving objectives
- weaknesses - factors or constraints to the project or organisation that are harmful to achieving objectives
- opportunities - external conditions that are helpful to achieving objective
- threats - external conditions which could hinder achieving objectives
See a SWOT analysis example.
Importance of a project library
Without a proper, centralised system of logging and storing of information about a project, important data can become lost or inaccessible very quickly, with a risk of poor version control. This can cause duplication of effort and conflicting iterations of project documents in circulation, and can be particularly problematic in lengthy projects or those with a greater number of people involved.
It is worth considering creating a project library so that everyone has easy access via a single point to the most up-to-date information. You should make sure that these documents will be accessible in the future - eg in a shared file rather than on an individual's computer.
Project review template
At the end of a project, it's always worth carrying out a project review to look at lessons learned. It's worth asking the opinion of everyone on the project team and can help to structure these opinions under a set of headings. You could use the 'KISS' approach:
- keep - ie this was effective and you should definitely use it again
- improve - this was good but there were areas that could be done better
- start - things you didn't do but now realise you could do in future projects
- stop - things that should not be repeated