Getting Documentation Right

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Documentation is an important aspect of a project manager's job. We document to keep us aware of status on projects. We use it to stabilize spending and keep a paper trail of events and circumstances. So, what should you capture and how should it be maintained? Here are a few tips to make sure you're capturing usable documentation.

  • Know your source. Having the information helps, but being able to backtrack to determine who provided it -- and thus its worthiness and validity -- is even better. This is important in the case that information comes into question later. For instance, if you receive a pre-defined budget for your project but then are given another amount, a senior source with oversight over your project can help validate the original amount. Be sure to have that contact's information and even a backup source in case that source moved on.

  • Have clear, concise information. Lessons learned will tell you that communication is key to getting information correct. As much as possible, try to make documentation clear, so the knowledge transfer process goes smoothly and you, team members and stakeholders are able to follow it. Include wording that easily links to follow-up information or shows there is a continuation to a document.  

  • Use a repository. Make sure to keep documents in a secure location to be able to recall them when needed. Whether you file documents by projects, size or funding amount, at the very least have a system for filing. Have some type of dated system for knowing what is the most current file or selected information. This will help to determine if the information is no longer useful.

Now that you know how to maintain documentation, we'll review which documents should be retained in my next post.

 What are your must-have tips for documentation on projects?
Posted by Bernadine Douglas on: May 04, 2014 01:29 PM | Permalink

Comments (4)

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Martin Kuenkele
Hi Bernardine, I would like to suggest also to document basic decisions at the beginning and during the project. I remember a situation in which I was glad to have a document showing a decision we all together made but after some months some have forgotten.

Hi Martin, very good suggestion to document decisions. Keeping a log on any status changes to them is also important. Thank you for sharing your comments. Bernadine

Hi Drake, thanks! Bernadine

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