When beginning my career in Project Management, I didn’t fully understand the importance of good documentation and record keeping. I assumed Project Management meant finishing a project on time, under budget and providing a great experience for your customer. Little did I realize that this isn’t all Project Management entailed, and quickly discovered proper documentation and record keeping is fundamental to success.
So why do we keep proper documentation? Imagine you are a motorcyclist, It’s not about if you have been in an accident yet, it’s about how to protect yourself when it happens. Now, I am no motorcyclist but that was my attempt to make Project Management sound really cool, which I am sure made total sense. For a Project Manager it’s the same concept, there will be projects that don’t go as planned, it’s just a matter of being prepared. Things will happen that are outside of a Project Manager’s control, but being able to support what happened and the back story is what will save credibility.
As Vice President of Project Management at SiteREADY, it is my personal responsibility to ensure all Project Managers and Project Coordinators practice accurate documentation and proper record keeping for our clients. During a SiteREADY project, there are many bidirectional lines of communication between technology vendors that occur – the Audio Visual vendor needs to speak with the Cabling vendor, who also talks to the Sound Masking company, and they speak with the Security firm. With multiple lines of communication, one undocumented change could cause the need for change orders to be submitted, which could in turn make projects delayed or over budget.
A Project Manager’s job is meant to be able to be handed off at any moment to someone else. We need to always remember “we could get hit by a bus” (knock on wood) and we better hope someone could fill in our spot without any hesitation, drop of the ball, and that the client will feel no impact. Practicing great documentation prepares a Project Manager for the day. It is our helmet and we must wear it each and every day.
Written By: Jennifer Tetreault, Vice President - Project Management