This post reviews Method123 Project Management templates. I have used Method123 templates for years and really like them, especially certain specific templates. However, I do not think that one type of templates is always the answer. In fact, what I have learned is that much of the benefit from using any type of template is limited by the skill of the user.
That being said, I am going to cover some specifics about the benefits of project management templates overall, and then zoom in deeper with a more detailed Method123 templates review of the pros and cons.
Finally, I will look at how templates might help define the link between organizational strategy and projects, and I summarize with recommendations for you, depending on your situation.
Project Management Templates Overview
Project management templates – Method123 and others, paid and free – offer you a shortcut by embedding the key points from project management standards, best practices, and common sense business thinking. They enable you, the PM practitioner, to focus your efforts, experience, and brainpower on thinking through the critical leverage points on your projects by prompting you to think about each important factor around the project.
The intended result is a good project plan – one that is well-organized, well-conceived, well-expressed, and a blueprint for managing the project. Templates can help to get you there quicker, and without overlooking any key areas. However, remember that in the end, the end product will still relate closely to the use of your skills, ingenuity, professional judgment, and inputs of your team and stakeholders to properly fill in the blanks.
One of the key benefits of using templates is that they are – hopefully – thorough, professional, and educational. Most templates I have used offered a degree of all of these. I will try to give you the information you need to determine what will help make you the most effective.
I recommend these PM templates (paid link):
There are various types of PM templates. For example, some vary by format, including MS Word, Excel, and Project. Others may be on web forms or completely online. Some are geared to, and even embedded in, specific project management software, while others are standalone. Some are comprehensive and very detailed, while others are higher level and more simplistic. Some templates are based on a particular set of PM standards, while others are more generic and focus more on best practices and less on specific standards.
One of the keys to analyzing templates is if they incorporate project management best practices. Another is how comprehensive they are. Another is how flexible they are at prompting you for information but giving you flexibility on what areas to focus on.
Method123 Project Management Templates Overview
The Method123 Templates Kit provides over 50 PM templates that map to project management best practice areas and standards – for example several templates each that fall under the Initiation, Planning, Execution, and Closing phases.
My favorite is the Project Charter template, one of several Initiation phase templates. I typically use this template on EVERY project. It helps me to think through the project at a high level – to gain perspective on the purpose of the project, the higher level objectives, the stakeholders, the team organization, the overall schedule, the risks, and the financial underpinnings. I find that it usually brings up questions for discussion that had not been considered, and customers and clients really appreciate it.
Each Method123 template typically includes three parts:
- Professionally designed structure of the key points covering the area of focus for the template
- Training material, prompts, or step by step instructions explaining the what, why, and how – to prompt your to think and capture your thoughts in your writing of each section
- Charts, tables, and/or graphical formats to complete to guide your analysis
These are included consistently across all templates, including:
- Initiation phase – Project proposal and business case
- Planning phase – Project plan and resource plan
- Execution phase – Time management process, time sheet form, cost management process, and expense form
- Closing phase – Project closure report and post implementation review
Most impressive about the Method123 templates is that they are used widely by Method123 customers in many businesses – small, medium, and large – numbering well over 1 million users in scores of countries across the globe. I am not aware of any other PM template provider that can claim that kind of widespread use.
Method123 Templates Review
Pros of Method123 PM Templates
The following is a short evaluation summary of the pros of the Method123 templates:
- Well organized
- Thorough, closely mapping to project management processes and knowledge areas
- Flexibility of use, where you can simply remove sections or even whole templates that do not apply or add value
- Comprehensive, forcing you to think about each aspect, which reduces the chance of missing something important
- Time efficient, allow you to focus on about each important consideration, knowing that everything will be covered
- Proven system used by a wide range of companies worldwide
In short, the Method123 templates are a tightly connected package that is comprehensive, consistent, and easy to use.
Cons of Method123 PM Templates
Using the templates takes some effort. Since they are comprehensive, they will require you to consider what you do and do not need. If you are not confident about what you do and do not need, and cannot prioritize the right things to focus on for your project, you risk getting bogged down in some templates that may not add value in your particular situation.
Similarly, the biggest con is that the templates cannot do the work for you. They only prompt you by providing placeholders for your to complete. You will need to exercise judgment, draw from your experience, and put effort into thinking clearly about each section. You will also need to research some areas and involve your team and stakeholders, with you at the center of the effort.
Every project is different. You will need to, in essence, customize your use of the templates to your particular situation. Again, this is hard work and will require professional and seasoned judgment.
Strategic Perspective on Method123 PM Templates
Two Method123 templates have direct links to the strategic perspective on the project: the Business Case and Project Charter Initiation templates.
I recommend these PM templates (paid link):
The Project Charter contains a section at top called Project Definition, where you define the Vision, Objectives, Scope, and Deliverables. From an Objectives and Key Results (OKR) viewpoint, the prompt is there to enter the Objectives, and it is up to you to include measurable Key Results in your definition of the Deliverables. Again, it is not so much the template, but the skilled use of the template that makes an impact.
The Business Case template focuses up front on the Problem or Opportunity and Solution Alternatives. It emphasizes the idea that if you define this well up front, you will be in a better position later, during Execution and Closure, to measure your progress toward the target. The Environmental Analysis (could be informed by PESTLE analysis) and Problem Analysis (could be informed by SWOT analysis) sections provide the space to include the strategic underpinnings of the project, which could be informed by any number of the frameworks discussed in the blog.
The templates do not provide a full-blown framework for doing the strategic analysis; they provide a space to summarize analysis that ideally has been done elsewhere. The template is for managing the project, not performing the strategic analysis that might lead to the project, but the more deeply you can understand and articulate the strategic part the better.
Recommended Action on PM Templates
If you are a seasoned professional looking for shortcuts to make the process of managing a project more professional, thorough, and efficient, I recommend the Method123 templates. If you are less experienced, it can be extremely helpful also, but it will be most helpful if you can also involve other PM professionals and stakeholders and team members in your efforts as you gain confidence.
Free templates can be very helpful. However, I have found that they can be disjointed and do not fit into a tight and consistent package, as do the Method123 set of templates. If you are looking for a specific type of template – something in a particular area or for a particular need – then a free template could be very useful.
I recommend at least using some template – even free ones. They will give structure to your projects from the start. For something more comprehensive and tightly conceived and assembled, I recommend the Method123 templates, . They will enable you to focus on the things that matter most and that will serve and impress your customers and clients very well.
One final word is that I strongly recommend at least using some sort of template, whether Method123 or something else. Templates will give you a head start on your project and help organize your work to a higher level.
I recommend these PM templates (paid link):