I briefly explained in chapter 6 of the book ‘Prince2 in practice’ the usage of ‘SMART’-templates and building blocks.
I will use this article to explain to you a development process of these ‘SMART’-templates by using an Excel environment and I will highlight potential pitfalls which could occur. I use the following division:
• Characteristic features;
• Positive characteristics;
• Negative characteristics;
• Final judgement.
For each item I describe the following dimensions: content, presentation, export facilities and maintainability.
As you could read in the article one-off registration of information in the building blocks to support the consistency and the availability of export facilities won’t bring universal happiness. The disadvantages like flexibility shortage and maintainability are factors which should not be underestimated. Usage of ‘SMART’-templates must not impact the creativity of the project manager. ‘SMART’-templates can’t be a straitjacket. When you can offer free format building blocks to guarantee flexibility, the advantages will increase dramatically. Active usage of integrated checklists and corresponding data generation will improve the quality of the documents and help you to start with a simple knowledge system. I still have my doubts but I start experimenting with the framework described. I hope that several readers will be enthusiastic about this framework and start experimenting by themselves with these ‘SMART’-templates.
Implementing a new documentation standard is not a ‘piece of cake’. Think what the consequences will be. This will ask for a careful implementation process. Please read the step by step approach in my book (chapter 7: from theory to practice).
Of course there are other solutions as well. MS Access could be a candidate or integrate this building block approach within existing PPM tools. I love to hear all your experiences with Excel or other possibilities to set up your building block based documentation standard.
You can find the complete article in the Box folder ‘Prince2 in practice’