The Key Project Management Checklists

By Nick Graham

Part of Project Management Checklists For Dummies Cheat Sheet

The most important project management checklists — the real top-line items — fall under three main headings: Kick Off, Project Planning, and Project Control. These are the lists that you need to complete before any project can get the green light. They go like this.

Kick Off

The three documents in Kick Off work up the idea for a project from a one-side overview to an Outline Charter. You add more detail at each point when you have established that the project is worth progressing.

  • The Idea: A one page overview of the basics of the idea for the project.

  • The Recommendation: Typically five to ten sides of paper, exploring options, recommending one, recommending not to go ahead after all, or perhaps recommending that while the work should be done, it doesn’t need a project to do it.

  • The Outline Charter: Okay, it’s looking like a viable project now. The Outline Charter sets down the scope and an overview Business Case and is developed using project expertise, not just business expertise.

Project Planning

If the managers in overall charge of the project and its preparation, the Project Steering Group (PSG), accepts the Outline, it’s time to start the project itself, and that begins with the Planning Stage. You’ll need some major documents here for project approval and then control. Three major planning documents exist, but the second one — the Project Management Plan — contains quite a few other plans.

  • Project Charter: The strategic view of the project. This will be maintained throughout. Amongst other things, it contains the scope statement to say what the project is, the objectives, and, importantly, the full Business Case.

  • Project Management Plan (PMP): The tactical view of how you’ll manage the project. You’ll need some or all of the following:

    • Project Plan: With the product, activity, and resource plans and also the budget.

    • Risk Plan: How you will control risk on the project, including reporting procedures.

    • Quality Plan: The level of quality to be achieved, and how you will achieve it.

    • Communications Plan: What information will be needed and how it will be communicated.

    • Stakeholder Plan: If you have a significant amount of Stakeholder management to do, how you will do it.

    • Procurement Plan: If your project will involve a significant amount of procurement. This shows what will be bought and when, including lead times.

    • Other Controls: Details of any other controls to be used, not covered in the other plans in the PMP.

  • Stage Plan: The plan for the first Delivery Stage so you can move ahead promptly when the Charter and PMP are approved.

Project Control

During the Delivery Stages, the Closure Stage, and the evaluation of the project, you’ll need some further documents. This checklist is to help you think through what you’ll need, and perhaps what you won’t need.

  • Stage Progress Report: For the Project Manager to report progress to the Steering Group, possibly copied to others such as organisational managers and Project Managers of any interfacing projects.

  • Team Progress Report: Where you have a project with multiple teams working, the Team Leaders will need to inform the Project Manager of progress on their current work assignments.

  • Stage Completion Report: Produced at the end of each stage, this report is used by the Project Manager to inform the Project Steering Group of how the stage went. So, what was the final time and cost? Were there any problems that will affect future stages? This report may be given as a presentation at the Stage Gate.

  • Project Completion Report: Produced by the Project Manager at the end of the project, it reports how the whole project went. It should also record any lessons learned during the project, good and bad, that may be of value to future projects.

  • Project Evaluation Report: Produced after the end of the project, this sets down information on benefits realisation (what the actual benefits were compared to what was expected when the project started) and the suitability of project deliverables after an initial period of use.

  • Project Issue (or Project Memo): A communication from anyone in the project to the Project Manager, but you may choose to use them for written communications between the Project Manager and the Steering Group too.

  • Work Package: A work assignment given to a Team Leader by a Project Manager. It sets down what work is to be done and how. A project team will work through one or more Work Packages in a Delivery Stage.