'Project Management Rituals' by Elizabeth Harrin

The following is a guest post by Elizabeth Harrin, author of Social Media for Project Managers and Project Management in the Real World.

Over my career, the majority of my projects have involved people who already work together.  I remember working with one team that I had to form from scratch, who had never worked together before and who had never worked on a project before. In that situation, having little rituals worked wonders in explaining what a project is and what projects do and more importantly, as a project manager, what I was supposed to do. I sent out agendas, I had all the notes from the previous meeting on PowerPoint slides and I ran most team meetings like a workshop so I had plenty of time to explain why we were doing what we were doing in this order.

There’s another ritual I have at the beginning of a new project, but it’s for my own benefit. I sort out all my electronic filing. That means:

  • Creating an archive file in Outlook, sectioned into sub-folders where I can store my project emails
  • Setting up version control on all my project documents
  • Organising the network drive so I have clear places to store all electronic documents, again with sub-folders for all the relevant stuff.

What do those sub-folders look like? Well, I keep to a pretty standard filing system regardless of the project:

  • Documentation: folder for all current ‘official’ project documents like initiation document, requirements document etc
  • Planning: most recent copy of the plan plus documents relating to the plan
  • Previous versions: for archive copies, so they don’t get muddled up with current versions
  • Graphics: if the project involves graphics I keep all of those separate.  These might be screen shots for the requirements document or mock-ups created during development
  • Reports: for weekly reports, summary reports and steering group reports
  • Minutes: er, for minutes of meetings
  • Anything else specific to that project that could do with being split out into a separate folder.

Getting organised at the beginning of the project makes it easier to keep on top of things as you go along. And it sets my head in order as well for embarking on a new project with everything sorted out just so.

Elizabeth writes the award-winning blog, A Girl’s Guide to Project Management where this article first appeared. She’s Director of The Otobos Group, a business writing consultancy specialising in topics relating to project management and women at work.

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