How to document projects properly: 6 Principles
Published in Project Management.
Project documentation is often a deciding factor separating successful projects from unsuccessful ones. Every project with insufficient documentation is a gamble posing risk to the organization. Every requirement missing from the documentation can be viewed differently by stakeholders. Every decision made during the execution can be redone for no reason causing ineffectiveness.
Project documentation is meant to facilitate project success without becoming a burden or a job in itself.
We won’t be discussing how to format the text or what software to use, but the general principles of documenting big enough projects to have multiple dimensions and sets of documents related to them.
Usually, confusion in project documentation is caused by these factors: poor planning, inadequate communication, or substandard organization.
1. Organize documentation in one centralized storage with the latest approved versions of each document. It’ll save the project team a lot of time sharing the documents via mail. Align information spread thin across multiple channels in a single storage.
2. Divide information between documents on a basis of project dimensions. Don’t mix technical requirements with the Business process. This separation of duties will allow various involved actors to work with their own domain of expertise whilst contributing to the project.
3. Ensure documents don’t conflict and set up priorities between documents. The only thing worse than missing information is conflicting information. Set up a framework of documents priorities over each other at the start of the project to prevent conflicts.
4. Don’t duplicate information in several places or carefully rewrite it to the context. This will help you with avoiding conflicts. But the main goal is to provide each party with the most accurate information intended for their use. There’s no need to include SQL table mapping in the call operator’s handbook.
5. Embed discussion in documents. There’s no need to use email if a teammate has comments about a specific place of documentation? Most modern editors allow you to include comments inline or separately.
6. Notify all interested parties of documentation updates. Try to balance between providing useful notifications and spamming teammates about documents presenting no interest to them. Systems like Confluence allow subscribing to changes on specific pages.
Project documentation plays an important role in project execution, stakeholder management, and project delivery. Having read this article, now you know how to improve knowledge management of your projects to deliver them more efficiently.