Are You Documenting Smartly?

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by Christian Bisson, PMP


Documentation—at least on IT projects—is one of those great project challenges. Documenting everything (and then keeping it updated) can be tedious, and requires a lot of time and discipline. But documenting nothing can leave people lost as a project evolves.

Like many things in life, balance is everything. Documentation doesn’t need to be a pain. It just needs to be relevant, easy to find and reliable.


Documents can easily (and quickly) become obsolete, therefore it’s important to limit documentation to the information that can help the team save time and avoid errors. Stick to the most important elements, such as project scope, important links, FAQs, key decisions, approvals, etc.

Easy to Find

If information is scattered between emails, a server, a computer and a filing cabinet, chances are team members will skip looking for it and simply ask around (most likely starting with the project manager) to find what they’re looking for.

There are several software options out there today that are great for storing and organizing documentation, like Google Drive or Confluence (part of the Atlassian suite). Each allows you to consolidate documentation in one spot and provides access to simultaneous editing and commentating features.


If you follow the first two tips, you should only have to maintain a limited amount of information in one easy-to-find location. This is essential because documentation that is not updated can have negative consequences on your project. It can mislead team members and accidentally force them into working off of outdated information.

Where do you store your important project documents? How do you ensure they are relevant and reliable? Share below!

Posted by Christian Bisson on: April 07, 2017 12:20 PM | Permalink

Comments (19)

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Christian, very interesting post and points. Very True.

Yes, scaled to fit the right size project too! Thanks.

Thank you for your feedback.

Naomi, that's also another great tip, a small project of short duration will need require much documentation compared to a project that can last a few years.


Great post Christian. Thanks

This is really an important and larger discussion. We are referring to Knowledge Management and taxonomy. With regards to project artifacts, there are different types of content - documentation and discussions. There is also authoritative and non-authoritative content.

Dependent on the initiative, we may utilize our social platform, JIVE, similar to Confluence, to socialize around content, or manage the entire project through a SharePoint project site to centralize all project related details; schedule, artifacts, discussions, risks, issues, etc. We also use to easily save email communications to the projects artifacts directory.

The overall intent is to maintain information around a particular initiative in one central, easy to find, location - tacit to explicit. The old 'hit by a bus' analogy.

The right information to the right people at the right time in the right context.

Great points, thanks for sharing.

All project related document is very important. Even if you keep record of all the document as lessons learned - important aspect is analogous approach of project planning. I would suggest maintain all the document with -- ID like project ID, Doc. type ID, Version ID, Year and Month ....

Great Points. Like the suggestions given by Ripal Shah. Like Sharepoint; we can allow to enter the Version ID, year and month, Now a days, no doubt lot of tools are readily available in the market which can hold all the versions but Name and Project ID to the file make a big difference. Thank you for sharing.

Great points! Thank you

MS SharePoint is an option. its versioning capability is very helpful.

Documentation is more important than we think.
To make it more useful taxonomy is key

I agree sharepoint is excellent for sharing amongst a team and for the versioning capbility.

Good Post.
Although we think we are doing the right things, these posts are allways good to remind us how to keep on the right track

Good Post.
Although we think we are doing the right things, these posts are allways good to remind us how to keep on the right track

In IT projects I suggest using JIRA and a Wiki while asking team mates to write user stories and document operational steps in Wiki pages (from scope to quality checklists and lessons learned). Versioning and comments are built-in and they display nicely in any device.

Hi Luigi,

JIRA and it's partner "Confluence" from the Atlessian suite are indeed a good duo, I currently couldn't live without them!


I've been deliberately using Confluence for my project management information system.

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