Project management methodologies define policies, principles and practices. Methodologies will also usually mandate the completion of some standard artifacts. On the low end of the prescriptive scale, specific documents might need to be produced only where organization policy dictates whereas with other methodologies, a whole slew of artifacts are required to comply with expected standards.
But regardless of how many documents have to be produced to meet methodology requirements, the custodians of the methodology should take some steps to maximize effectiveness and efficiency of completing artifact templates.
Start with why
You might have a perfectly good reason for introducing a new artifact, but will your practitioners intuitively understand why they are being asked to do more work?
Like any change, it is important to weigh the costs of not adding the burden of more documentation against the benefits provided and ensure that there is sufficient value perceived by both content contributors and consumers.
Like technical debt, documentation debt creeps up on organizations one artifact at a time. Left unchecked, the effort required to ensure currency and quality of the ever increasing collection of documents and their accompanying guidance will cannibalize capacity to improve the outcomes of delivery methodologies.
One size fits all is never a good thing when it comes to project documentation.
The context of a project should dictate what content needs to be completed within a given artifact. This needs to start with identifying the complexity of a specific project and then based on that complexity, determining whether the document is necessary and then recommending which sections should be completed.
Show don’t tell
Good examples are superior to a glut of guidance.
Strive for minimal sufficiency when it comes to instructions for new documents and instead pilot them with a few project teams to provide you some populated samples. This will have the added bonus of working out any usability defects with the documents.
This article was not written to dictate where on the documentation continuum a methodology should fall – that should be context-driven. Never forget that project management documentation is just a means to an end and very rarely represents meaningful business value in the eyes of our customers.