Project Documentation and its Importance

Project Documentation and its Importance


Last updated August 8, 2017


Project Documentation is an important part of project management. It is substantiated by the essential two functions of documentation: to make sure that project requirements are fulfilled and to establish traceability with regard to what has been done, who has done it, and when it has been done. Thus, documentation must lay the foundation for quality, traceability, and history for both the individual document and for the entire project documentation. It is thus extremely important that the documentation is well arranged, easy to read, and adequate.

Experienced project managers excel at making and following standard templates for their project documents. They reuse successful project plans, business cases, requirement sheets, and project status reports. This helps them focus on their core competency of managing the project rather than balancing the unmanageable paperwork.

Project management usually follows major phases:

Project Details

Details of Project Management phases

Feasibility Report

The purpose of a feasibility report is to investigate and showcase the task requirements and to determine whether the project is worthwhile/feasible. Feasibility is checked on the 5 primary factors – technology and system, economic, legal, operational, and schedule.  Other feasibility factors include market, resource, culture, and financial factors.

Project Charter

Project Charter is sometimes also known as the Project Overview Statement. A project charter includes high-level planning components of a project. This lays the foundation of the project. It acts as an anchor, holding you to the project's objectives and guides you as a navigator, through the milestones. It is a formal approval of the project.

Requirement Specification

A requirement specification document is a complete description of the system to be developed. It contains all interactions the users will have with the system along with the non-functional requirements.

Design Document

The design document showcases the high or low-level design components of the system. The design document used for high-level design gradually evolves to include low-level design details. This document describes the architectural strategies of the system.

Work Plan/Estimate

A work plan sets out the phases, activities and tasks needed to deliver a project. The timeframes required to deliver a project, along with the resources and milestones are also shown in a work plan. The work plan is referred to constantly throughout the project. Actual progress is reviewed on a daily basis against the stated plan. It is therefore the most critical document to deliver projects successfully.

Traceability Matrix

A traceability matrix is a table that traces a requirement to the tests that are needed to verify that the requirement is fulfilled. A good traceability matrix will provide backward and forward traceability: a requirement can be traced to a test and a test to a requirement.

Issue Tracker

An issue tracker manages and maintains list of issues. It helps add issues, assign them to people, and track the status as well as current responsibilities. It also helps develop a knowledge base to contain information on resolutions to common problems.

Change Management Document

change management document is used to capture progress and to record all changes made to a system. This helps in linking unanticipated adverse effects of a change.

Test Document

A test document includes test plan and test cases. A test case is a detailed procedure that fully tests a feature or an aspect of a feature. While a test plan describes what to test, a test case describes how to perform a particular test.

Technical Document

Technical document includes product definition and specification, design, manufacturing/development, quality assurance, product/system liability, product presentation, description of features, functions and interfaces, safe and correct use, service and repair of a technical product as well as its safe disposal.

Functional Document

Functional specifications define the inner workings of the proposed system. It does not include the specification how the system function will be implemented. Instead, it focuses on what various other agents (people/computer) might observe when interacting with the system.

User Manual

User Manual is the standard operating procedure for the system.

Transition/Rollout Plan

The rollout plan includes detailed instructions on how to implement the system in an organization. It includes the schematic planning of the rollout steps and phases. It also describes the training plan for the system.

Handover Document

Handover document is a synopsis of the system with a listing of all the deliverables of the system.

Contract Closure

Contract closure refers to the process of completing all tasks and terms that are mentioned as deliverable and outstanding on the initial drafting of the contract. This is only applicable in case of outsourced projects.

Lessons Learned

Lessons learned are used at midpoints of the project and at project completion to catalog significant new understandings that have evolved as a result of the project. They are used to build the knowledge base of the organization and to establish a history of best and worse practices in project implementation and customer relation.

Hope that helped, and wish you good luck in your PMP® certification journey.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment away!

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About the Author

Eshna is a writer at Simplilearn. She has done Masters in Journalism and Mass Communication and is a Gold Medalist in the same. A voracious reader, she has penned several articles in leading national newspapers like TOI, HT and The Telegraph. She loves traveling and photography.


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