Tag Archives: Project Management

Project-Closure-Report-Template-Free-Download.docx

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Project Closure Report

Like all aspects of a project, its closure should be planned and tracked. This may one of the more overlooked aspects of project management, but its benefits and importance to the project and future ones like it are highly valued by project managers. A good project closure report should be the basis for a project plan for a similar future project.

The report compares between the plan at the beginning of the project, and the final outcome of it. This output is then presented to the key stakeholders, the client and vendors, and to the team members. This report is usually quite emotional, especially in a long term project. It is the final output of the team, and they know that once it’s completed, the project is finally over.

Completion Criteria

In order for the project to be officially closed, the following basic criteria must be met –

  1. The major milestones have been completed
  2. The above have met their quality specifications
  3. The key stakeholders (internal and external, i.e. the client) have accepted the closure and have signed off on it.
  4. The project has been completed on time and on budget (certain flexibility is acceptable here of course).

These criterions above can change from project to project, and must be defined upon its official kick off.

The Methodology

The most important steps of the closure report are –

  1. Actual vs. planned: the first step is to compare the actual timeline, scope, budget, quality and resource use to the planned ones at the beginning (or at the last scope change). This step will give a good sense of how successful the project was (the more successful, the closer the actual will be to the planned). This step is done by the PMO, and approved by the PM / COO.
  2. Interviews of the major team members: Once step #1 is completed, they should be presented to the team leads and managers in order to get their input, remarks and lessons learned. Also their contributions should be formally recorded and recognized, for future evaluation and compensation.
  3. The client needs to formally sign off on the project, herby confirming that the company has met all of its obligations as stated in the SOW / contract.
  4. A checklist with the major tasks of a closure report needs to be put together and approved.
  5. The CFO must approve that all of the expenditure is accounted for, and that all of the PO’s (Purchase Orders) have been fulfilled. In some cases an audit is required, in order to present to the customer that all of their payments were received.
  6. Identifying the records which need to be kept after the project has been completed is a very important step. Depending on the clients’ field of business and country, there are several rules & regulations which must be adhered to regarding record keeping. Any and all legal signed documents, PO’s, payments received and authorized and any other documents which the legal counsel of the company specifies must be kept and recorded. This can also help with planning a new project in a similar field.
  7. Once the above steps are completed and signed off by the PM and stakeholders, It must be communicated to all involved that work on the project must discontinue unless told otherwise.
  8. Once step #6 is done, all payments involved in the project need to be discontinued.
  9. If a maintenance project is signed (or included in the original contract), then the final scope in the project closure report will be the beginning point of the maintenance project.

The importance of a checklist

The attached checklist needs to be filled out and signed as a part of the report. Even seasoned PM’s and PMO’s who have brought many projects to a full closure, may sometimes overlook basic steps of the report. A checklist is the best way to avoid these mistakes, which may leave a bad taste in the mouths of otherwise happy and content clients. The checklist should also specify who is responsible for the tasks which appear in it.

All lists are prone to change according to the client, the company, the country and many other factors. The attached list specifies the basic and most important tasks, which should appear in any closure report.

Best Practices

The following points should be kept in mind when putting together a project closure report –

  • Closing a report might be an emotional task for team members who have been involved in the project from the kick off, and have come to see the project as their “baby”.  Keeping this in mind, it may be a good idea to bring in a team of people who weren’t directly involved in the project, or may have recently joined. This will ensure objectivity and that this task is seen as just another one in the projects’ lifecycle.
  • Since this is the last major work of the project, and is usually done after the final deliverable has been signed off by the client, it may be not taken seriously by all of the team members. Perceiving the closure report as a mini-project with milestones, deadlines and a work plan can ensure that the report will be completed in a timely manner.
  • Like any other tasks, planning this one well in advance will improve its final outcome.
  • While debriefing the team members, it is a good idea for their immediate supervisor to review their work on the project and give them any constructive criticism. Most companies do this exercise on a yearly / bi-yearly basis, but at the closing a project is a much better time to review and analyse the team members’ contributions and personal KPI’s.
  • The above debriefing (or interviews) should be done in a structured manner, with the projects’ goals clearly listed and weather the team member helped in its achievement.
  • Usually the PMO writes the report, and the PM or COO approves it.

Be sure to check out the Free Project Status Report Templates from Techno-PM, and start streamlining your project management today.

PROJECT-CHARTER-TEMPLATE.docx

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PROJECT CHARTER

 

What is a Project Charter?

A Project Charter is a must-have in any project, as prescribed by the PMBOK® Guide and other methods. It is a document that summarizes the key information about a project and that announces to the world, aka, your organization, that there is a new project on the block. The Charter appoints a project manager for the project and assigns it the authority to proceed.

 

Why do I need one?

Do not underestimate the value of a project charter as just yet another management document! The main reason why you need a Charter is because without a Project Charter, your project exists only in your dreams, my friend.

Having a project charter provides your project with the following benefits:

  • Formally authorizes the project
  • Creates a vision and a shared understanding about the project
  • Empowers the project manager to lead the project
  • Identifies the high-level objectives and scope of the project
  • Defines what will success look like
  • Enables support for the project to be gained
  • Ensures that key stakeholders are aware of the project
  • Secures budget and resources for the project
  • Serves as a point of reference for the project team

 

What should it contain?

While most project management methods and frameworks prescribe the use of a project charter of some sort – either called one-pager, charter, or mandate -, there is no defined composition for its template. However, a principle to consider is that any good Project Charter will help you clarify the What, Why, Who, When and at What Cost of the project. According to the PMBOK® Guide, these are covered by the following sections in a Project Charter:

  • Project Information: includes the ID and name of the project, name of the project manager, and project sponsor
  • Business need, problem or opportunity: what is the main driver for this project to exist? What is the context from which it was born?
  • Project Objectives and Benefits: what are you trying to achieve with the project? Try writing your objectives as SMART objectives – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bounded
  • Project Organization: describes the governance of the project, including key roles for its management and direction
  • High-level project scope: at a very high-level, the project charter should be able to outline the boundaries of the project, i.e., what will be in scope and out of the scope of the project, as well as key deliverables to be created by the project
  • High-level project timescale: at a very high-level, the project charter should be able to list the key stages and estimated duration for the project, as well as its key milestones
  • High-level project budget: at a very high-level, the project charter should be able to identify the budget requirements of the project, including capital and revenue expenditure forecast
  • Key assumptions: main assumptions that may impact the project if proven false
  • Key project risks: main risks that may impact the project if they materialise
  • Success criteria: key measures to assess the success of the project

To make your life easier, I’ve produced a simple project charter template that you can download here. Ready to use!

 

Best Practices when Writing a Project Charter

Writing a Project Charter can be time-consuming, particularly if not done properly, thus, here’s a couple of tips to help you steer your project towards success from its very beginning:

  • Keep it brief: trust me, the more pages a document contains, the less chance it will get read. Try to keep your Project Charter simple and brief. After all, it should capture key, high-level information!
  • Be explicit: no one cares or is enthusiastic about a vague summary of a project. Get to the point as early as possible and make it explicit.
  • Build it with your sponsor: while theory advises that the Charter should be handed-over by the project sponsor to the project manager, in reality it is often the project manager to writes the Project Charter with the support of the Sponsor. Whatever the model, the involvement of the sponsor is fundamental.
  • Get it signed-off: until you get the Charter to be signed-off by your sponsor, the project is not formally authorized. No Charter, no project.
  • Share it: one of the main benefits of a Charter is that you can gain support from the project and ensure that there is a shared understanding of what the project is about. Be proud to share your Charter with your team and key stakeholders!

 

The Project Charter is the key document in the Initiation phase of a project and is the first opportunity that the project manager has to build the right foundations for the project. Grab the chance to cause a great first impression with a great Project Charter!

 

Project-Checklist.docx

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This document is a standard project checklist to use as you plan, organize and kickoff your project.  When launching a project, there are many things to be done and it is easy to forget some important and critical steps.  This project checklist helps you ensure you have all the major things covered.

The project checklist includes line items for high level tasks such as project goals, objectives, and a kickoff meeting.  It also includes more detailed items like scheduling regular stakeholder update meetings and preparing training materials.  

Enter your project name in the header, then click the checkbox in the project checklist to mark an item as completed. 

FMEA-Template.xlsx

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This FMEA Template (Failure mode and effects analysis) is built in Excel and automatically calculates the RPN score for you.  The FMEA is intended to help mitigate risk with a process, product or project. 

To begin using the FMEA template, identify all of the process steps or functions associated with your process or project.  Enter all of these into Column B of the template.  Next, identify potential failures (or problems) that can occur at each of these steps and enter them into Column C.  Also, identify the effects or impacts of each failure occurring and enter that into Column D.  Try to identify causes of the potential failures and enter them into Column F.  In Column H, enter any existing controls that are in place to address each of the potential failures you have identified. 

To complete the blue section of the FMEA template, you will need to assign Severity (Column E), Probability (Column G) and Detectability (Column I) scores for each potential failure.  Use a scale from 1-10 for each of these scores.  For Severity, 1 is not at all severe and 10 is extremely severe.  For Probability, 1 indicates not at all likely to occur, and 10 indicates certainty that it will occur.  For Detectability, 1 indicates it is very easy to detect and 10 indicates it is very difficult to detect (note this one may be opposite of what you expect). 

Once you enter all of these scores, the Risk Priority Number (RPN) will be calculated for you.  The RPN is calculated by multiplying the Severity times the Probability times the Detectability.  Items with the highest RPN should be addressed first.

To complete the green section, enter recommended actions to address the cause of the potential failure and assign an Owner to carry them out.  Once the actions are completed, enter them into Column M.  After actions have been completed, enter the new Severity, Probability and Detectability into Columns N, O and P.  A New RPN score will be calculated for you in Column Q. If you have properly addressed the cause of the potential failure, the New RPN should be much lower than the original RPN.

One-Page-Project-Charter.pptx

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This one page project charter is built in Powerpoint.  Project charters are typically very lengthy documents describing the background of the project, different options considered, detailed scope statements, etc.  The One Page Project Charter is meant to be a summary of the most important components of the charter in a single page.  For large projects, it is used in addition to a full project charter.  For small projects, it’s used in place of it.

The template includes sections to document:

  • Project Name
  • Project Description
  • Target Date
  • Costs
  • Gains
  • Project Team
  • Key Milestones

The One Page project Charter is also useful for communicating with an executive audience that is not interested in all of the minute details

Microsoft-Project-Example.mpp

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Microsoft Project Plan

This Microsoft Project Example is a Project Plan for an IT project involving data loads from a front end website into back end ERP systems.  The Microsoft Project Example highlights the following:

  • Grouping of Tasks in a hierarchical fashion
  • Resource Allocation and Resource Leveling
  • Work hours assigned and Confidence in estimates
  • Task Prioritization and Task Flexibility
  • Task Categorization
  • Predecessors to show which tasks are dependent on the completion of others
  • Estimated Start and Finish Dates

The MS Project example also shows the Gantt Chart with the tasks, duration, predecessors and resources.  The project plan accounts for gathering requirements, designing the solution, testing, implementation and training.

Test-Plan-Template-Excel.xlsx

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This Test Plan Template (Excel) is intended for the testing of software and information systems.  It is useful to prepare the Test Plan well ahead of testing and should be reviewed by the project or product manager, as well as others who have gathered the requirements.

The Test Plan Template contains separate tabs for each set of features to be tested.  Each row in a tab is a test case to be performed, and has a place to document the Expected Result as well as the Actual Result.  The Status of each row should be populated with “Pass” or “Fail” upon completion of the test case.  This will automatically highlight the row green or red.  Test data used in each test case should also be recorded in the test case row for future reference.  For any test case that fails, the details of the error or failure should be recorded in the Comments column.

Since the test plan template is built in Excel, the Overview tab is able to automatically calculate the number of cases Passed, Failed, and Remaining, as well as percentages for each.  The “Test Summary” at the top of each tab is also automatically calculated and does not need any manual editing.  The change log, reference material, overview, etc is also maintained on the Overview tab.  

PERT-Project-Plan-Template-with-Expected-Time-Calculation.xlsx

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This Project Plan Template has a built in calculation for Expected Time using the Program Evaluation and Review Technique, or PERT.  

A full PERT Project Plan template would include additional components such as the critical path definition, a Gantt Chart, etc.  Other tools, such as Microsoft Project, are preferred over Excel for that type of work.  This PERT template is intended to incorporate the Expected Time calculation from the PERT Project Management method.

Expected Time is calculated based on three different estimates of time for a single task of work.  The first estimate is the Optimistic Time, or the minimum amount of time to complete the task.  It assumes everything proceeds better than is normally expected.  The next estimate is the Pessimistic Time.  This is the maximum amount of time required to complete the task and assumes that many things go wrong.  The final estimate is the Most Likely Time. This is the best estimate of time to complete the task and assumes that everything proceeds as normal.

The Expected Time is then calculated by multiplying the Most Likely Time by four, then adding the Pessimistic Time and the Optimistic Time and dividing the entire sum by six.  This takes into account all three estimates provided, but weights the Most Likely Time the heaviest.  

Project-Kickoff-Presentation.pptx

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This is a Project Kickoff Presentation that can be used for a variety of project types.  It is intended to be used at a project kickoff meeting with relevant stakeholders, project sponsors, and project team members present.  The meeting is typically led by the project manager or a project sponsor. The tone of the meeting should be motivating to encourage interest and commitment to the project. Depending on the size of the project, the meeting can be between one and two hours, including time for questions. The kickoff meeting provides high level information about the project and does not get into granular details of the project implementation. The slides are in wide screen format.

This project kickoff presentation includes slides for:

  • Goals
  • Benefits
  • Assumptions
  • Scope
  • Project Team
  • Groups Impacted
  • Key Dates and Milestones
  • Implementation Plan
  • Risks and Mitigation
  • Communication Plan
  • Next Steps

Each of the items above should be well planned and thought out prior to the project kickoff. It is common to involve key project members in the creation of the project kickoff presentation content to ensure accuracy and that a wide variety of perspectives have been accounted for. It is also wise to discuss some of the information above with key project sponsors and stakeholders prior to the kickoff meeting to avoid any major disapproval in the meeting. Time should be allotted throughout the presentation or at the end for questions and discussion. Discussion items that are very detailed or are taking too much time should be tabled by the meeting leader, and he/she should assign someone to follow up on that topic after the meeting.

This project kickoff presentation can also be used later in the project if new team members are brought on board.  The presentation can be shared with them to help them get up to speed quickly on the details of the project.

 

Project-Charter-Template.docx

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This is a versatile, professional project charter template that can be used for projects of all different types. The template is fairly detailed. Sections that are not needed for certain projects can be removed. The project charter is usually created by the Project Manager early in the Project Management Life Cycle.

The project charter can be used to “pitch” or “sell” the project to executives or leaders who will decide whether or not to fund the project. It is also used to communicate project details to resource managers who will decide whether or not to commit their team members to the project. Once approved, the project charter authorizes work to commence on the project and gives authority to the project manager to lead the project. Additionally, all project team members should be familiar with the project charter prior to beginning work. This helps ensure that all team members understand the objectives and benefits the team is working towards, as well as what is in and out of scope.

This project charter template includes sections for:

  • Project Overview
  • Objectives and Expected Benefits
  • Problem Description
  • Root Causes
  • Solution Proposal
  • Scope Details
  • Project Milestones
  • Team Members
  • Project Costs
  • Risk Mitigation
  • Communication Plan
  • Additional Details

The project charter is also a great resource to help bring new project team members up to speed who join the project after the initial kick off.