Project Documentation – 10 Key Project Documents
Project documentation is vital for any project’s success. Typically, project teams use hundreds of reports, charts, and documents while they are managing projects. All the documents are essential and they serve different purposes. For instance, risk management documents are essential for conducting the manage risk processes within a project. Health and safety reports are used to reduce or eliminate hazards at the source. The project work schedule is vital to plan the start and end date of the deliverables in order to complete the project on time. However, project management teams use some essential project documents which are directly related to the production itself. In this article, we will discuss the importance of project documentation and review 10 key project documents.
Here we will answer the following questions;
- What is project documentation? ,
- What is the importance of project documentation?
- What are the Key Project Documents?
What is Project Documentation?
Project managers aim at delivering projects of all sizes successfully. Their responsibilities do not only involve completing the project tasks on time but also performing project documentation successfully. No matter how large or small your project is, without a solid project documentation process, you can not stay organized while implementing your project.
Documentation is a written material that provides official information regarding the business such as records, procedures, plans, and reports. Project documentation is the process of creating key documents that are needed to carry out a project effectively. For instance, these plans and reports might include, baseline schedule, project status reports, WBS, etc. The main purpose of conducting this process is to provide everybody a clear and accessible format and well-written content. Therefore project documentation should be officially written and should include the right information.
In general, the project manager is responsible for establishing a documentation system so that the project team should be practicing.
Why Do We Need Project Documentation?
Since the project documentation includes maintained or recorded material, project teams need project documentation in order to provide proof of traceability. Project documentation also helps to track the project performance which is important for decision making.
Experienced project managers always understand the importance of project documentation because it plays a key role in dispute resolution. For example, let’ say that you are managing a project and one of your subcontractors asserted a time extension claim against you. The subcontractor attached daily workforce reports to the claim file and asserted that he brought enough labor for the task. According to him, all the delays must be are attributable to you.
When you analyzed the project’s daily reports that the project team created, you detected that the subcontractor didn’t bring enough labor and material. In the view of the fact that all the delays are attributable to the subcontractor because his performance was not enough for the task.
What are the 10 Key Project Documents?
Project documentation serves the purpose of providing reference of something done. Therefore it is very important for the success of any project. There are many project documents created through the life cycle of a project. However, we will discuss ten of them below.
Project Charter is also known as the project definition document. Project vision, objectives, goals, business reason are defined in this document. It is an official document that formally authorizes a project. It also defines the stakeholders and the teams involved in the project.
The project scope involves all the works, processes, methods required to deliver the project deliverables. Project Scope is the work performed to deliver a service, result or a product. All the project requirements and the agreed scope of work are involved in this document.
Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
WBS is used to divide the project into manageable sections. Work packages are listed hierarchically in order to manage and organize the project’s scope. Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a key document used for project planning, resource management.
Project Management Plan
The project management plan is a comprehensive document defines how the project is planned, executed, monitored, and controlled. The project management plan includes but not limited to management plan, configuration management plan, baseline schedule, and cost.
Project schedule includes high-level details of project phases, activities and milestones. Activities are grouped under WBS levels and resources are allocated to the activities.
Quality Assurance Plan
A quality assurance plan includes quality objectives, quality management system, standards and guidelines, quality records in order to meet the organizations quality requirements.
Note that project documentation should be well arranged, easy to read, and adequate.
Risk Management Plan
A risk management plan is created to identify risks and implement methods to reduce them. By the help of risk management plans, risks can be monitored and controlled. A risk assessment matrix is an integral part of a risk management plan.
Work Performance Reports
Work Performance Reports collect project information and compare the actual and planned values in order to measure the project’s performance. Work Performance Reports improve the project managers and stakeholder’ s decision making.
A project budget is a financial document that involves direct and indirect costs, expenses, cash flows and the prices of the work packages. Material, subcontractor, labor and equipment costs of each work package are analyzed to calculate the overall project budget.
It is obvious that Proper project documentation is a mandatory element in managing projects.
Project Communication Plan
Establishing an effective communication system is vital for successful project management. A project communication plan includes communication tools, methods, and roles within a project.
What Are the Benefits Of Project Documentation?
Project teams aim at improving processes to make their work more organized. This is a good organizational practice. Here we gather up the main benefits to be considered while establishing a good working documentation system in place.
- Guides your team while setting goals
- Facilitates communication and collaboration
- Supports planning and performance measurement processes
- Makes everybody speaks the same language involved in a project
- Helps to manage all project processes
- Provides a clear overview of the project objectives
- Helps to manage risks and issues
- Provides accountability
- Records significant details to be used for dispute resolution
As we mention in the first paragraph, all the project documents are essential and they serve different purposes. Project documents must meet the traceability and quality requirements. They must be well arranged and easy to read. Understanding the function of each document provides success in project management. In addition to that establishing a proper document control system is as important as creating and using project documents.
In this article, we discuss the importance of project documentation and ten key project documents. If you want to add or share anything related to the project documentation, please use the comments box given below.
Tim Cristini is a recognized thought-leader in Lean, Agile, Kanban, SAFe, Scrum, technical Agile practices, design patterns and emergent design. He is the CEO of NY FLEX Training