Closing a Project: The Archive

Red Light Cameras a ScamFirm Takes Heat, and even more hot water over Ohio and New Jersey red light cameras in last week’s news. Given the trouble, do you think the PMs or their documentation might get pulled into the future court battle?  With that question in mind, what would you like to see in your document archive?

Read on for a simple tool that can protect you as a PM.

A very good question I was asked over diner by a PM–with very good taste in barbecue, btw–was what to archive when a project is closed. Not every project is the same but when projects are closed, there is an activity specifically for archiving project documentation. In this archive there are vital documents that should be found for any project:

  • A final version of the project schedule
  • The budget
  • Statement of Work
  • Contractor and vendor agreements
  • Change requests
  • For ITIL projects, a copy of the libraries
  • Listing of all files in the archive

Those are all great for a number of reasons, including lessons learned.  But more crucial in the case of a potential hearing: the communication or activity log.

It’s a simple tool that documents or at least highlights all communication and decisions made during the life of the project. It functions as a communication log and a traceability matrix.

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 12.23.36 AM

Mine, Communication-and-activity-log-template, is a sortable XLS with the following columns:

  • Line number
  • Date
  • Short Description
  • Detail
  • Requirement
  • X – Is this a new requirement?
  • Approval
  • Approval Date
  • Decision Made
  • Follow Up Date
  • Action
  • Status(Open, Closed, Late, Expedite)

You can add views, resources, hour estimates, risk, mitigation, etc. But the simple tool is enough to put to work immediately. Take it into every project meeting with you and take notes with it, although I prefer to make notes on paper.

In a hypothetical scenario, if I worked for a red light company and my project was to make certain adjustments to one or more red lights, I would make note of that decision. My activity log would be safely stored away on an archive and I would never need to be asked if I had any improper role in that decision making.

Projects closed properly educate, grow, and sometimes protect a PM. My guess is that electrocution is preferable to prison BBQ.

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