There is no doubt that documentation is a crucial part of project management. It fulfills the two most important parts of a project management system: to ensure that project requirements are fulfilled and to establish traceability with respect to what has been done, who has done it and when was it done.

Documentation lays grounds for quality, history and traceability for the entire project and individually as well. It’s importance comes into existence when there is a change in team members or a new resource is added to the team. Documentation should be such that the any new addition to team should be able to read and understand the project.

Project Management Uses

Project managers excel at making templates for their documents that are easy to read. They reuse successful project plans, business cases, requirement sheets, and project status reports to help them focus on their core competency of managing the project rather than balancing the unmanageable paperwork.

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Every project manager has a set of templates ready to be filled as soon as the project requirements come in. Project Management usually follows the following phases:

  1. Initiation: Feasibility report and project charter
  2. Planning: Requirement specs, design document and estimates
  3. Execution: User Stories, Test Cases and Traceability Matrix
  4. Control: Change management
  5. Closure: Technical document, functional document, handover document and contract closure


Feasibility Report

The purpose of a feasibility report is to validate that the project is worthwhile. Feasibility is verified by five primary factors:

  1. Technology and system
  2. Economic, legal
  3. Operational
  4. Schedule.

Project Charter

Project charter also known as the project overview statement includes high-level planning that lays the foundation for the project. It acts as an anchor that holds the project objective and guides each one in the team through the milestones.

Requirement Specification

It is a complete description of the project that needs to be developed. Additionally, it includes all specification to be included in the project including non functional requirements.

Design Document

The design document includes all high level and low level design components. The document is basically a description of the architectural strategies of the system.

Work Plan/Estimate

A work plan describes phases, activities, and tasks that are needed to deliver the project with proper timeline as well as resource planning and milestones which are also included in the work plan. This document accounts for the estimated time, resources it will take to complete the project whereas actual progress is reviewed on a daily basis against this document which makes it as the most important document.

Traceability Matrix

It is a table that traces the requirement to the tests that are needed to verify that the requirement is fulfilled. A good traceability matrix includes both backward and forward traceability which means a requirement can be traced to a test and a test to a requirement.

Issue Tracker

The issue tracker maintains a list of issues. At Copper Mobile, we use Jira to track, manage, add issues for our mobile app development projects. It helps us track the status and current responsibilities. It helps us align resources accordingly for the coming days.

Change Management Document

The document is used to capture progress and changes made to a system. It helps in linking unanticipated adverse effects of a change.

Test Document

A test document includes test cases and test plan. A test case fully tests a feature or a sub task of a feature. While a test plan describes what to test, a test case describes how to perform a particular test.

Functional Document

This document defines the inner workings of a system. It does not include the specification of how the system function will be implemented.

Handover Document

The handover document contains a list of all the deliverables of the system.

Contract Closure

Contract closure is the process of completing all tasks and terms that are mentioned as deliverable and outstanding upon the initial drafting of the contract.

All these documents hold equal importance in a project management system. Documentation is the best, and sometimes the only way you can keep a record of the work done, the strategies used, the changes that occurred and all the little specifics an average human mind is capable of forgetting. Knowing the history of the project is essential for the current plan of action as well as how you proceed in the future.