Project Management 101: What do I need to document?

Although most of us live in a world where we have everything in writing (thanks to our email inboxes), it is easy to forget to document our projects.

NEMT President Linda Allard

We are asked to take on a project by either a client or our employer so we jump in and get going. We pick our team and assign tasks and may even make some notes, but often we don’t share these with our team.

So what do we need to document? We need to document the actual statement of the project: exactly what the project is and what it will accomplish. We need to document who is responsible for each area in the project. By sharing this with everyone on the team, each person will know who they need to speak with if they need help. Think of the time and the efficiency you will gain if everyone knows exactly who can help them.

For me, one of the most important parts of the documentation (besides the actual project plan) is a communication plan. What I mean by a communication plan is having a clearly written strategy of how information about your project will be shared and what you will be sharing. You need to plan so that this information is distributed on a regular basis. I do this by having a status report that is scheduled regularly and shared with the team.

There are two questions you can ask yourself to help you create this report.

1. Who will need this information? Think about everyone involved in the project, from the sponsor to the managers to other departments that might need to understand this project.

2. What information will they need? We are not talking about the project plan tasks that are routinely being done, but an overall update of key areas in the project. Definitely include anything that affects the cost and deadline of the project.

Make sure to keep your status updates short and to the point. Your team is busy, and if you send out an update that includes every detail of the plan, it may not get read. Develop a report that your team knows will highlight changes and let them know where things stand without becoming The Great American Novel.

After all, the main thing we are doing is keeping everyone informed and helping our team members to have time to really work on their parts of the project.

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About Linda Allard

Linda Allard is the president of NEMT.
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