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Where the Answers Reside - The Project Notebook


"Good project management practices dictate the creation and maintenance of a project notebook. The term 'project notebook' may be misleading. It is not a three-ring binder sitting on the project manager's credenza. Rather, it is a series of files, both hard copy and electronic, that provides ready and easy access to all the defining documents and status reports for the project."

Key Question: How complete is the project notebook? Does it have all the necessary components with a sufficient level of detail?

"Without a project notebook it is very difficult to gather information that may be needed to respond to a management query, to prepare for a status meeting, or to quickly answer questions that need an immediate response. The project notebook provides the main source of input for your project audit. The team will find it easier if the project notebook is established at the onset of the project and maintained on a weekly basis. The project notebook should contain the following sections:
  • Project charter  All versions of the project charter should be included. If there is more than one version of an approved project charter, it should be accompanied by a change request.
  • Project plans  Maintained on a weekly basis.
  • External agreements  All agreements should be present in this section, including the nondisclosure agreements, services agreements, proposals, the proposal acceptance, and letters of intent.
  • Time sheets  For each project team member.
  • Requirements definition  All requirement definition documents and a requirements log.
  • Analysis documents  All analysis documents: Unified Modeling Language (UML), Information Engineering (IE), Structured Analysis and Design, simple flowcharting, and so on.
  • Design documents  All design documents and a design standards documentation memo.
  • Test plans, cases, and results  All formal test plans, test cases, and expected results should be traceable to the requirements log.
  • Deliverable acceptances  Acceptance forms for all deliverables as specified in the latest valid project charter along with the deliverable acceptance log.
  • Implementation documents  All implementation documentation must be maintained in the project notebook including the transition plan to production, the staff requirements to maintain the project, data conversion requirements and system administration documentation.
  • Status reports  All weekly and monthly status reports.
  • Risk management  All minutes from the monthly risk management sessions.
  • Issues management  The issues management log and minutes from the issues discussion meetings.
  • Change management  All documentation regarding change management including the change management log and all individual change requests that have been submitted whether they have been approved or not.
  • Software configuration management  Specifies the standards, tools, and protocols used to manage moving the project into production.
  • Miscellaneous  All other noteworthy items such as meeting minutes when decisions affecting the project have been made."

The above is an excerpt from a book written by Sanjiv Purba and Joseph Zucchero, published by McGraw-Hill/Osborne, 2100 Powell Street, 10th Floor, Emeryville, California 94608 U.S.A. Sanjiv has over 20 years of experience managing large projects and many years engaged in rescuing ailing projects.