How, where, when, and who – a project sheet in management

Proper organization of actions carried out by all members of a project team is essential in order to make the realization of company related tasks effective. In many enterprises, some managers claim to possess innate qualities that are ideal for project m

The ordering of a project process

Proper organization of actions carried out by all members of a project team is essential in order to make the realization of company related tasks effective. In many enterprises, some managers claim to possess innate qualities that are ideal for project management. The truth is, however, that intuitive acting in this field hardly ever proves effective. There is a need for appropriate plans and well-prepared schedules for every day. Such data gathered into a single document improves the management of every project. Advanced and complicated tasks require the ordering of the entire process of project realization. The amount of information and work involved is too large to organize everything without the help of traditional planning; we have to consider a multitude of details. This goes beyond the capabilities of most managers, even the most skillful ones. Therefore, while introducing order to our project related processes, it is worth to use the so-called project sheet. Thanks to modern technology, such a document can be easily created by means of specially designed computer applications.

What is a project sheet?

Generally speaking, a project sheet is a document that describes a project. It is the first stage of project planning, and, in most cases, it is considered the basis for further planning. The level of detail of a project sheet can vary depending on the level of advancement of the final product. During the creation of a project sheet, it is advisable to implement even the smallest details which might seem to be of little importance. The awareness of these tiny elements helps achieve a far better effect.

A project sheet is the basic document of a project offer because it includes all the necessary information related to the undertaking. Before initiating the process of realizing a project, the manager, the sponsor, and the client should fully accept the project sheet because it serves as a solid basis for making any complaints. A project sheet which is created by means of a computer application has at least one great advantage – it can be easily modified if there is the need to implement some changes. This is why it is worth to equip ourselves with appropriate software, specially designed for such a task.

Theoretically, a project sheet should be created by the person issuing the assignment. However, in practice and in most cases, the document is created by the project manager who acts in cooperation with his team.

The information included in a project sheet

In a project sheet, we answer a set of questions of various levels of complexity. It is worth to spend even a whole day on formulating a good project sheet because it often turns out to be the reason for the success or failure of the undertaking. A project sheet should determine the main idea of the project, its main features and the reasons for its realization. In consequence, the document should shape the strategy of action which would lead to the successful completion of all project related tasks. A cohesive and clear project sheet is an ideal tool for the presentation of an offer to a contractor and for the presentation of a strategy of action to our superiors.

It is worth to say that a project sheet should be created by all those who are interested in a given project, even the most regular employees who take part in the undertaking. Their contribution to the cause might be invaluable. A good project sheet is not a strict bureaucratic document, but a useful plan of action. Its creation is based on teamwork, defining problems and finding creative solutions to them. It is not a document that mirrors other ones prepared for similar occasions, but a well thought out paper created by the entire project staff. It is not something one formulates five minutes before the actual meeting with a client. In the document, it is best to describe in detail the expectations of our clients and superiors. The creation of a project sheet in an easily accessible form to all team members and superiors is very important because it significantly helps in the process of finalizing all stages of the project work.

Generally speaking, a project sheet should describe the vision, the aims, the scope, the organization, and the initial plan of a given project. Moreover, it should also include the general aims of the project, a description of all the actions leading to its successful completion, the schedule of the realization process, and a detailed estimate of costs.

If we focus on the details, we can present the elements of a project sheet in the following way:

A summary of the undertaking

The definitions used in the project sheet

The biggest aim of the realization of the project

The description of the biggest aim

The description of the object of designing

The indication of the usefulness of the project

The comparison of the usefulness of the proposed solutions with other solutions in the field proposed in our country and abroad

Partial tasks of the project

The classification of the partial tasks

The type of the research work undertaken (this includes: identification, diagnosis, modeling, and designing)

The recognition of legal matters

The recognition of the norms suitable for the domain of the project

The direction of the development of the project

The results which finalize the realization of the project

Cognitive gains

Operational gains

Economic gains

The course of the designing process

The financial resources needed to complete the project

The description of the study work

The description of the application work

The schedule of the project – it is best to do it in a graphic form

The estimate of costs related to the project. It should include both – direct and indirect costs

The application of a project sheet in practice

A project sheet is inappropriately considered by many managers as a formal description of an undertaking and the effects anticipated in relation to it. However, it should also serve as a practical tool for managing a given project. Thanks to this document, it is much easier to present an outline of the whole undertaking to our clients, sponsors, and superiors. Moreover, if the project sheet is created electronically, the method of presentation becomes more interesting.

A project sheet should identify the people who supervise a given project, so the project manager, the sponsor and the leader of the team. At the same time, it should define the role of these people and provide some contact information to all of them.

By sharing a project sheet with all members of our company, we can evoke the feeling of responsibility among all employees who are directly or indirectly involved in the undertaking.

The stages of project creation

A project sheet should be created before initiating the process of realization. However, many companies prepare this document after the work is done, and this is not a wise choice. In such a case, it is impossible to establish detailed aims for a project, and it is impossible to divide tasks between employees who are engaged in the work.

The first step on the way to creating a good and useful project sheet is to describe its mission, its vision, and all possible contexts. It is also worth to think about the reason why the project is being created. We usually work on a project because we received an assignment from a client, or because we want to win a tender. We have to clearly establish all aims of our project. In order to do this, we can turn towards the so-called SMART method. According to this approach, an objective has to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. The understanding of the aim of a project should be an easy task for everyone. It should be formulated in a clear and unambiguous way; it must not leave any room for misinterpretation. When it comes to measurability, the goal of a project should be possible to describe by means of numbers. There should be the possibility to ascertain the level of advancement of the work we planned. We have to evaluate if our plans have been fulfilled. It is imperative that we include a realistic and possible to achieve aim in our project sheet. If the goal proves to be too ambitious, our project team might not be motivated to realize the idea. This, in consequence, may lead to problems related to their work. The aim should be of specific value to all who participate in the realization of a given undertaking. The last important thing in the description of a project is the estimate of the time span needed for its completion. It is very important to create a safety margin when preparing a schedule of a project because there is always the risk of a an unexpected situation. Additional time proves invaluable under such conditions.

During the first stage of the creation of a project sheet, we have to describe the whole undertaking and clearly state which areas lie in the reach of the project, and which lie beyond. This will help avoid problems during its realization.

The next step is to present the description of the organization of a project. It has been mentioned already that a project sheet has to point to the person responsible for the sponsorship of the project, the manager, and the participants. This part should also include data on the roles of particular members of the project team; it should identify the receivers of the project, the clients, and all the people interested in the undertaking.

The third step is about the establishment of a plan that will guide us on our way to achieving the goal. Here we have to plan the whole process of project creation and prepare the best and the worst possible scenarios. In this part we should include all of the dependencies and key assumptions which are essential in order to complete the whole project and its particular stages.

The last step is the identification of risk in relation to our project. We have to be prepared for every situation and be ready to accept the worst possible scenario.

A project sheet should be a well thought out document because it will determine the way in which our project will be realized; it will inform of the estimated time span and the costs. There is no room here for mistakes or oversights. It is best to prepare a project sheet before beginning the project or even before presenting an offer to our client. The document should be prepared cooperatively with employees assigned to work on the project. A computer project sheet is convenient and easily accessible to all who take part in the realization of particular stages of our project.