Use Documentation Wisely


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Our blog series – “Master Project Management” covers some of the essentials of the art and science of project management. It talks about defining true needs, building a solid team, and performing a financial analysis. It addresses how you can find the right balance points between extremes like “managing everything vs. managing nothing” and “doing work yourself vs. letting the team do everything.” This series will help develop the foundation you need to become a high performing project manager.

Use Documentation Wisely

Needs for documentation shift over the course of a project. At the beginning, during initiation, you need documents that lay out the purpose, boundaries, and requirements for the project. As you develop a deeper understanding of the desired outcomes, the focus is on plans.

Once the project is under way, documentation needs to follow two paths. The first is tracking progress against the plan, in part so you can periodically update management. The second is tracking decisions made about the project content.

These two paths continue even as the project winds down. First, you need to document the process of running the project and lessons learned, both for your own education and to share with others. Second, you need to provide any documentation needed to operate/maintain the changes that resulted from the project.

Think like a functional manager: Think about the types of documentation that your manager must ensure are maintained on a regular basis—employee records, contracts, purchase orders, budgets, actual cost, etc. You will need similar documentation for your project.

Distinguish short-term needs from long-term needs: Some documentation is really used only during the project, such as team meeting notes, preliminary data charts etc. Other documentation is intended to live on long after the project ends, such as process maps, instructions for using new procedures, revised purchase codes, or whatever. The former can be kept in any format that suits you best. For the latter, you need to think about the users’ needs.

Follow company standards: Some good news is that you don’t have to start from scratch. Most companies have documentation on past projects that you can use as a model.

WorkOtter helps you successfully execute your program process strategy for project success. Get a demo of WorkOtter and see how we can make your program management effective.

Next Step: Maximize Learning From Closure

“Project Management: 24 Lessons to Help You Master Any Project” by Gary R. Heerkens is a copyrighted work of McGraw-Hill and McGraw-Hill reserves all rights in and to the Content. ©2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. Purchase the book on Amazon.