Technical Writing for Project Managers

    Thomas Goebel, Director of Communications, PMI Houston

    At first, I thought that the title of this blog might be misleading. I wanted to address the technique of writing for Project Managers as clients, and I thought that people might think that it was more of a tutorial to teach Project Managers about how to do technical writing.

    In reality, it’s both.

    The casual observer might ask, “What’s the difference? You can either write for a technical audience or you can’t.” Completely understandable. After all, technical writing consists of some basic precepts or pre-conditions: you must be able to write (okay, okay … you have to pay attention to grammar and spelling), you must be succinct with a to-the-point writing style, you must be able to interpret the message your client wishes to convey, you must be accurate, and so on.

    The Project Management community, though, is a separate breed, and it behooves the writer to have some weighty experience with the animal. There is language, for starters. No, I’m not talking about jargon, although some project management lingo has worked its way into buzz speak. This language typically means something. Stakeholder, free float, life cycle – these are just a few terms that have already weaseled their way into the business lexicon. They’re there. You need to know them.

    More important is knowledge of the processes and methodologies used by disciplined project managers. If the technical writer is fortunate enough to have earned a PMP® (Project Management Professional) certification, he or she is able to understand the workflows, project sections, sub-strata, and tools (critical path determination, estimating) of the trade. And here we circle back to the specific language that has grown up with the profession to describe these various practices and controls. A thorough grasp of all these is essential when writing processes, manuals, proposals, etc.

    You are not just writing for the project manager, you’re writing for the project.

    September 2018: From the President

     

    From the President

    By Terry Minhas, PMI Houston Chapter President

    In the US, government entities waste $97 million for every $1 billion invested in projects and programs. Commitment to the best practices of project and program management can have an enormous impact on savings.

    Commitment to project and program management best practices can have an enormous impact on savings. PMI has successfully advocated having project management recognized as part of the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) system starting in 2018.

    Recently, the Houston Chapter was approached by PMI to support its initiative with lawmakers in Washington, DC and across the globe to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the governmental departments through better project management. In the Capital, the effort includes working with a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House of Representatives called the Government Efficiency Caucus. This group, along with support from PMI, helps to expand the use of project management practices throughout the federal government and beyond.

    It gives me a great sense of pride to be a part of an initiative which is expected to have a significant and long-term impact on the project management community in the US and overseas. It is an honor for our Chapter to be selected to be among the leaders!

    Labor Day is marked as the end of summer. It’s time to enjoy picnics, BBQs, and parties. We should also remind ourselves that it’s the day to honor the American worker. It’s the day to respect the organized labor and the rights of the individual. Let’s not forget those whose hard work and sacrifices enabled us to enjoy the bounties of life.

     Food for Thought: “Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy, forget in time that men have died to win them—Franklin D. Roosevelt