Significance of Keeping Documentation in Project Management
Documentation is an often overlooked step in project management. With teams focusing on the next task, the next deliverable, and the next milestone, adding an extra step of recording new findings and decisions can feel like an unnecessary waste of energy. Let’s talk about project documentation, and its massive role in project success, to address this impression.
Project Documentation: Definition and Importance
Project documentation is recording project information and producing documents to formalize its details. It has three key benefits:
- Record-keeping: Putting discussions and decisions in writing formalizes and legitimizes them for all parties.
- Alignment: Documenting information makes it easy to share and communicate. It’s a seamless way to clarify expectations among involved stakeholders.
- Tracking: Constantly updating “living documents” can help project teams stay on top of their progress and priorities.
10 Project Document Examples and Templates
The type and amount of documentation you’ll need for your project will depend on many things: your project’s size, your client’s documentation standards, project requirements, industry, etc. While there are many examples available, here are 10 that you might come across as you encounter different types of projects and clients.
The project proposal is a very important deliverable to greenlight a project. It justifies why a project has to be pursued by outlining its purpose and outcomes in relation to the goals of a company or community.
Project Proposal Templates:
- Project proposal template by Jotform
- Project proposal template by Priority Matrix
- Project proposal for creative projects by Creative Market
Winning a bid is another way for a project team to win work. This is submitted in response to a request for proposal (RFP) or invitation to bid (ITB) by a general contractor or organization. The requesting party normally outlines the details they need to see in the bid. Examples of these are a letter of interest, personnel resumes, company registration documents, cost estimates, and proposed schedules.
Project Bid Templates:
- Bid proposal template by Jotform
- Bid proposal template by HubSpot
- Construction bid proposal template by BigRentz
Business Requirements Document
The definition of what a completed project looks like may differ from client to client. Failing to identify expectations can cause major issues on scope and payments. A business requirements document (BRD) outlines the needs and expectations of the client for a phase, milestone, and project to be considered finished. These include specific metrics, deliverables, or outcomes that the project team needs to fulfill.
- Requirements document template by ReQtest
- Requirements document templates by Templatelab
- Business requirements document template by RFP360
Scope of Work Document
Scope creep is a common reason for cost overruns. To help avoid this, secure the team’s commitments in terms of deliverables, timelines, milestones, and reports in writing through a scope of work document. This aligns your project team and your client on what your service covers — and what it does not.
Scope Of Work Document Templates:
- Scope of work document template by Templatelab
- Scope of work document template by Formswift
- Scope of work document template by Tracktime24
Your project plan serves as your team’s game plan on how you’ll approach your client’s goals and production milestones. It should outline key deliverables and plot them on a sensible timeline. As a project manager, this also helps you identify key control stages where you’ll want to update stakeholders or evaluate your progress and next steps.
Project Plan Templates:
- Project plan template by Venngage
- Project plan template by Smartsheet
- Project plan Gantt chart template by Vertex42
Project Status Report
Updating stakeholders on the team’s progress and accomplishments is important to maintain trust. Your project status report is a formal record of what the team has achieved in relation to your project schedule, goals, and deliverables. It also records resources used and important issues that need to be communicated.
Project Status Report Templates:
- Project status report template by Microsoft Office
- Project status report template by Templateslab
- Project status report template by Free Report Template
Changelogs are records of additions, improvements, and removals on a product’s features. Software developers normally use this to help backtrack decisions, investigate bugs, and apply fixes. A chronological organization is an effective way of implementing this. They can also be grouped into specific versions of the build or product.
Change Log Report Templates:
- Changelog template by Stakeholdermap
- Changelog template by Jotform
- Engineering changelog template by Engineering Management
Incident Communications Plan
While it’s tempting to keep issues under wraps to avoid panic among stakeholders, proactively communicating incidents can also help build trust and attract assistance and support. An incident communication plan indicates the details of relevant incidents that impact the outcome or resources. These can be outages, unexpected turnouts, shortages, and others. Regardless of what they are, be sure that your incident report contains important details of the incident, the involved people, and how it affects the project at hand.
Incident Communication Plan Templates:
- Incident communications plan template by Atlassian
- Incident communications plan template by HubSpot
- Incident communications plan template by DigitalOcean
Lessons Learned Register
Experience is only valuable when a team can make use of what they’ve learned. After every sprint or project completion, find time to evaluate what went right, what went wrong, and what the team can improve moving forward. Compile your new insights in a lessons learned register so that you and your team can use your newfound wisdom in your next endeavors.
Lessons Learned Register Templates:
Project Closure Report
Once you’ve submitted all your deliverables and accomplished all your milestones, it’s time to compile your methods, processes, results, and resources used in an expansive project closure report. This will formalize all the work you’ve done and provide evidence of your role in helping the client achieve the project’s outcomes. These are usually required to close contracts, turn over operational responsibilities, and evaluate your project’s success.
Project Closure Report Templates:
- Project closure report by Smartsheet
- Project closure report by ProjectPractical
- Project closure report by Project Management Docs
Project Management Software Can Help
Find the balance between thorough documentation and smooth implementation. While execution is king, proper project documentation across all your project’s phases can help formalize and maximize your efforts and results.
The best project management software takes the guesswork out of creating excellent project management documentation. Here are our picks for PM tools to help you create and keep track of project documents.