Project Management Documentation List – Free Templates and Checklists
An essential part of any project is the written documentation that underpins its approval, communication and management. This project management documentation list contains all of the free templates you need to manage your project from inception to completion. It is essential that ideas and actions are explained accurately to all those involved during each stage of the project. This ensures that all those involved know what is expected of them, what has happened, what impact or risk exists and the desired outcome.
This means that your written communications skills are critical at every stage of your project because success depends on your business case clearly expressing how your project meets stakeholder’s expectations. Our project management templates and checklists will help you produce quality documentation at every stage of your project.
There are four simple steps that will enable you to produce and maintain well-defined project management documentation throughout your project.
Clear layout and format
Make it easy to locate important information in any written document is greatly enhanced by using a clear layout. Using white space, bullet points and bold or underlined text allow you to present your message in an easily understood way. Anyone reading your communication can quickly find or see all the essential aspects of your message.
Be careful not to over-use the formatting options available to you e.g. bold text, underlined text, colored text, size of text, because too many variations will present a confused message. Use layout and text options to enhance your message so the importance and priority of its contents are easily discernible.
It also provides you with the opportunity to set the style and format of all your projects communications, by stating that all written communications during the project must follow this format. You may want to use some of the free project management templates we offer for your reporting such as the Project Status Report so that everyone who contributes to this type of report presents their information in a common format.
Keep it Simple
It is important that the language used in your written communications is fully understood by anyone who reads it. You can achieve this by keeping the language ‘simple’. This means ensuring any jargon, acronyms or industry terminology is explained so that your meaning is totally clear. The extent of such explanations will depend on your audience and their depth of their knowledge in the project area.
For example, if you were conducting a national health project you would want to define your use of the acronym ‘MRI’ clearly because it could mean Magnetic Resonance Imaging or the Mental Research Institute. Without a clear explanation your use of MRI could mean different things to different members of your audience.
Misunderstandings can be avoided in a variety of ways, for example; by following a term with a definition in brackets or producing a glossary of terms that accompanies each written communication. This is especially important when you out together the business case for your project as this is likely to be reviewed by individuals without specialist knowledge or familiarity with your market sector.
Keeping a team of individuals motivated throughout a project is a challenge for any project manager. Any written documentation produced plays a significant part in keeping the team enthusiastic and committed.
Using positive language enables you to present a case of what can be attained rather than state what cannot be done. You can use the passive voice to say ‘an issue has occurred that has consequences…’ rather than actively name an individual or department as the cause of the issue ‘an issue has occurred due to the failure of the administrator…’.
You may find it more beneficial to use an active voice for face-to-face communications’ as you will be able to discern the recipients true response. It also allows you to ensure your message has been correctly received and understood.
All projects have hitches and unforeseen events do occur. Your success or failure will be determined by how you well you manage such communications. Keeping the team focused on, and motivated to, attaining the end result is critical and your written communications play a significant role in achieving this.
The final step to well-written documentation is consistency. As manager it is your role to ensure that both the format and language conforms to the project needs. You will define the style and tone of your projects communication from the outset and this means that you need to decide how formal or casual you want the written communication to be.
A critical aspect of ‘consistency’ is that you must ensure that the reasoning behind each decision and the evidence supporting each decision is maintained as part of your overall project documentation. This does not need to be circulated to every team member but it must be available to decision-makers to assist them in this process.
Documentation isn’t anyone’s favorite part of a project. It is often tedious to take notes and record every step of a process, but by keeping an accurate written record, you will be able to transfer any lessons learned to future projects.
- This project management documentation list contains all of the free templates you need to manage your project from inception to completion.
- Written communications skills are critical at every stage of your project because success depends on your business case clearly expressing how your project meets stakeholder’s expectations.
- Using positive language enables you to present a case of what can be attained rather than state what cannot be done.
- You must ensure that the reasoning behind each decision and the evidence supporting it is fully documented.