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We mentioned in a past post that Project Archives can be a gold mine of information. Which brings us to that famous radio station WIIFM – what’s in it for me? What are the benefits of a project archive? In this post we’re going to take a look at what must go into a project archive to make it valuable – let’s avoid garbage in, garbage out.

We need a starting point so we’ll assume the Project Manager must create and maintain a Project Notebook during the life of the project. This includes the Project  Charter, Project Definition Document, Statements of Work, Vendor Agreements,  Status Reports, Issue Log, Risk Log, Change Requests, Schedules, Budget and Cost Sheets, Approval Documentation, Project Closure Reports, Lessons Learned, Compliance Reports, Audit Reports.  (While not part of the project notebook, ensure the following documentation is also being produced from the System Development Life Cycle (SDLC) or Project Development Life Cycle (PDLC) process – requirements, design documents, specifications, quality assurance, quality control, etc.).

Ok, so I have the archives of say over 50 projects to look at, now what? WIIFM? Well, if you’re a PM or manage PMs, this is what’s in it for you.

Leverage the archives to help new project managers on the team productive faster.  The archives provide examples of how to create the documents in the Project Notebook – what has been produced and what (hopefully) presents acceptable standards. If you are a new project manager joining a PMO or PM Centre of Excellence,  this cuts down on your startup time. ASK what past projects were similar to yours and which provide a good example of ‘how to’ produce these documents.  You’ll spend much less time figuring out what is acceptable or not. You’ll produce the documentation quicker. There will be less of “that’s not how it’s done here”. And you’ll be delivering value to the organization that hired you much quicker, whether you are contract or full time. Everybody wins.

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