Document Management Project Delivery

Document Management Project Delivery

Document Management Project Delivery

The key word in document management project delivery is delivery—managing activities to get the work done—that’s what really counts.

In this fourth installment of my Insights series on document and information management projects, I build on the nine project planning tasks and discuss the seven important activities you need to focus on to be successful with your next document management project.

Document management project delivery puts you, as the project manager, in a dual role of both manager and leader. You manage the project and lead your project team. The main thing to remember is that successful project teams produce deliverables that:

  • Align with project scope, and
  • Are acceptable to the project stakeholders

Now let’s dive into the seven activities you need to focus on in order to deliver a successful project. And, of course, what do you need to do to close a project; remember a project is a temporary endeavor, so it must end eventually.

Document Management Project Delivery: 7 Activities for Success

The seven activities you need to focus on roughly align with the things you monitor and control throughout your project. They don’t align exactly however—for example you don’t “deliver” changes to scope, rather approved changes become part of the deliverables. Anyway, the seven activity areas you need to manage are:

  1. Deliverables
  2. Project team
  3. Vendors
  4. Quality
  5. Risks
  6. Communications
  7. Stakeholders

You’re thinking, great only seven things to worry about. Well, it’s not quite that simple so let’s look at each one in a bit more detail.

1. Manage Deliverables

Solution designs describe how some feature or function is turned into a deliverable. In our cake metaphor, the recipe is the solution design and the actual, physical cake is the deliverable. In a document management project, deliverables may include:

  • New or updated processes
  • A newly implemented document management system
  • Successfully migrated records (e.g., physical records scanned into digital records)
  • Integrated systems, such as DMS integration with ERP, CRM or other back office solutions

How do you manage deliverables? What you actually manage are the tasks that get you from design to completion. These tasks include the user stories or use cases, design, testing, and acceptance of the deliverables by stakeholder(s). As a project manager, you make sure these tasks are completed by your team and your vendors on time and on budget, and that they adhere to scope. But what if you’re also part of the team…?


Generally speaking, you, as a project manager are in charge of getting the work done, which is different from doing the work. However, as an information management or information governance professional may also be responsible for doing some (most?) of the work, which means you need to manage yourself. All I can say, and this comes from experience, be as objective as you can:

That’s easy, I’ll do it later…

really means

…I’m dreading that, I’ll put if off as long as possible

As pontificated by every accidental project manager, ever

The best way to keep yourself accountable is to stick to your project schedule. If your tasks are due, get them done. If you choose or need to defer your tasks, do so through the proper change management channels rather than just modifying the schedule to suit your mood.

To summarize, manage the process of creating the deliverables, and when applicable, check and manage the work you need to do yourself as objectively as possible.

2. Lead your Team

There are dozens, if not hundreds of leader-vs-manager comparisons. As it relates to project leadership, the main takeaway is that effective project managers use their leadership skills to improve the performance of their teams. A PMI paper lists four essential leadership skill areas (soft skills):

  • Motivating and inspiring
  • Team building
  • Negotiating and communicating
  • Listening and influencing

You’ve heard of micro-managers but not micro-leaders. Why? Micro-managers get into the details, the minutiae if you will, and concern themselves with today, the ‘what’s due now’ kinds of things. And they’re known to blame…everyone else. On the other hand, leaders are enablers that think about the big picture and make decisions that get things done.

3. Manage your Vendors

Unless you’re lucky enough to have a PMO, you’ll likely need to manage any vendors you need for your project. Vendors supply your project with know-how and/or software that you need to meet your project objectives. Don’t know how to build a classification scheme (I do, by the way…), hire a consultant. Need a DMS? Don’t build one, find a qualified DMS vendor (Ovitas is one, by the way…).

Procuring Vendors

What’s involved in managing your vendors? First is the selection process. You need to qualify your vendors, which is often done via RFI, RPQ, or RFP. But those ‘R’ documents can be hard to write, especially if it’s for something specialized, so—as a vendor—here are a few things that can help you get the information you need to make a decision:

  • List your experiences implementing this kind of project.
  • Provide three integration examples you’ve done with (ERP, CRM, etc.).
  • Quantify and qualify support—how much is needed, what does it include (or exclude) and how much does it cost.
  • For each proposed team member, describe their role and qualifications.

Managing Vendors

Like any of your internal deliverables, you need to make sure your vendors’ deliverables align and integrate with your overall project plan. Some things to consider:

  • Vendor deliverables need to align with overall project scope. Make sure your vendors provide you with what you need (vs. what they have and want to sell).
  • When you and your stakeholders approve vendor deliverables, they should meet the quality standards you’ve set for the project.
  • Vendors will have project schedules too. Usually adding vendor milestones into your overall project schedule is enough to manage dependencies and due dates.

Remember, as the project manager, you are in charge of the vendor and their deliverables, and their project schedule needs incorporating into your project schedule.

4. Manage Quality

Quality assurance is what you do to ensure your project and its deliverables has acceptable levels of quality. The focus of managing quality is to prevent defects, which in a document management project can be things like incomplete data migration (content is missing) or inaccurate data conversion (content is misclassified).

When you manage quality, you design processes that can catch incomplete, inaccurate, and other quality issues early. Because the earlier you catch a quality issue, the easier (cheaper, faster) it is to fix. What about when you do encounter a quality issue, what should you do?

  • Define the problem. Does everyone agree what the problem is?
  • Define the root cause. What causes the problem to occur?
  • Identify solutions. What actions will fix the problem?
  • Choose the best solution. From a cost vs. benefit perspective.
  • Implement and test. Confirm the problem is fixed.

5. Manage Risks

Managing risks is what you do when a risk becomes a reality. First, you consult your risk register…that list of risks and possible resolutions you came up with before you started the project. Dealing with an unplanned event is, above all, when your leadership skills come into play. You have to decide what to do:

  • Empowerment. If you have authority to address the risk, then just go ahead and adjust the schedule, budget, and/or scope accordingly. Done!
  • Escalation. If you don’t have authority…then you need to communicate the impact the the stakeholders, recommend possible courses of action, and implement the recommendation.

Risks you identify and plan for are much easier to deal with than truly unplanned and unexpected events. However, in either case, making decisions—you, the PM making decisions—is what keeps the project going.

6. Manage Stakeholders

Your project stakeholders need to be your advocates. So you need to actively keep their interest in what your doing and why you’re doing it (for them). There are, of course, reluctant stakeholders; who are typically appointed by someone higher-up. Regardless, your stakeholders need managing.

Your stakeholders can be a fickle bunch and there is rarely a one-size-fits all approach. There are, nonetheless, a few things you can do to improve your rapport with them, like:

  • Be prepared. Know what interest each stakeholder has in the project and be prepared to describe the benefits the completed project will bring.
  • Be a domain expert. As an IM or IG professional, make sure you come across as knowledgeable about your area of expertise. Be confident in your abilities.
  • Communicate benefits quantitatively. Our operating costs drop 20%. We save 2 hours processing time for each contract. We’ll have one system of record instead of 16 unconnected applications.

7. Manage Communications

What can you say about effective communications? Other than it’s harder than it should be—communicating with your stakeholders, vendors, and project team is what makes a project ‘go’. The key, really, is figuring out the right balance of communication. Here are some things to consider:

  • Have an agenda. How many meeting invitations to you get that have a title and now agenda, no outcome? Don’t be that person. Always consider why you’re having a meeting and, using bullet points, list what you need to achieve.
  • Keep is short. Meetings are not workshops so keep them as long as they need to be. Outlook defaults to 15 minute increments for meetings. If you need 20 minutes, then schedule 20 minutes.
  • Stick to facts. Facts are you friend. If your completion trendline says your project is going to be late and over budget, then you (or whomever is accountable) needs to explain why. Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.
  • Don’t invite “everyone”. In today’s FOMO culture, the default is to invite more people…just in case they might need to know or contribute something. If they’re not part of the agenda, don’t waste their time. Instead:
  • Send out a meeting summary. Summarize what was decided (what are we doing), who is doing what, and by when are they will start and finish it.

There are really only two kinds of meetings that matter. Stakeholder meetings and project meetings. In stakeholder meetings you’re the accountable person: You communicate the project status (on time, on budget…or not) and you ask your stakeholders to solve problems you’re not empowered to solve (more time, more budget).

In project meetings, you hold others accountable: Vendors and team members.

Wrapping Up Document Management Project Delivery

Document management project delivery is all about getting your project work done. The seven areas I cover are rooted in the PMI PMBOK and supported by many years of actual document management implementation experience.

The key takeaway is to manage what matters: Make sure your deliverables align with the project scope and that they are acceptable to your stakeholders.

Any questions? Contact us—we’ve got the team to deliver!