Project planning is based on experience and the more experience you have, the more accurate your plan will be. Each PM performs different types of project work, reports on it differently, and uses the schedule for different purposes. To help create reliable, high-quality schedules, consistent use of best practices is the key.
Supporters of project management templates will try to tell you this is the only way to ensure best practices are embedded in project planning. While templates provide some form of guidelines that ensures information completeness, they have their limitations and drawbacks.
I believe the great part about project templates is that you can use them to start any project as quickly as possible. On the other hand, when you use templates, it introduces a learning mode and establishes rigidity instead of clarity. When templates are used blindly, without discernment, project plans can break down and become meaningless.
Furthermore, templates are static: they cannot guarantee the proper use of best practices while executing the project and making decisions in real time. And this is the real test: do your best practices and standards ensure project managers will have the proper data, at the right time, to make informed decisions. I think not.
What is the PMO’s ultimate goal?
Put simply: to ensure project success. How to attain such perfection? Through the timely application of best practices and corporate standards. Part of the benefit of using a standard project management process is that project managers have a set of best practices they can use every time.
Are project management best practices being followed to mitigate risks? A project manager who uses best practices should have a higher degree of success than someone who doesn’t. A PMO’s challenge is to ensure conformity to corporate standards. What he/she requires is a conduit between these standards and the project manager. This conduit has to help project managers be better at his/her job by using standards while providing flexibility in their planning.
I believe that project management best practices conformance can be automated. Intelligent automation costs a fraction of the potential costs of project plan deficiencies and can perform project audits at any point in the project’s lifecycle and as often as you like.
For more resources, see the Library topic Project Management.