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4 Secrets to Successful Project Documentation


Unfortunately, many project managers only realize just how important project documentation is when it's already too late. Everyone at some point has seen a project through to its completion only to hit a road block. The sad fact of the matter is that most of those types of issues that you're likely to face could have been avoided if you had been documenting properly the entire time. When it comes to successful project documentation, there are a few key things you'll need to keep in mind.

4 Secrets to Successful Project Documentation

1. Not Everything Gets Stored

If a project manager doesn't have the problem of documenting too little, they often swing hard in the other direction and document far too much. The fact of the matter is that not everything will be worth documenting and thinking otherwise will only try everyone's patience with a huge amount of paperwork they didn't have to do. Understand exactly what value something will have in later stages of the project to help determine if you should be documenting it at all.

2. Client Interactions

Above all else, you'll want to make sure that you're documenting every last interaction that you have with a client on a project. Every e-mail that they send, every voicemail that they leave and every conversation that you have in person needs to be added to the record as quickly as possible. If you follow the client's directions to a "T" and he or she later decides to change their mind, that documentation is the only thing that you'll have to prove that you were following directions all along.

3. Legal Documentation

Another key type of document that you're definitely going to want to store has to do with anything your legal team will eventually require. Depending on the project in question, the legal team will usually have to review documentation after the project has finished. If you don't have the type of documentation to provide them, you may be opening both yourself and your entire organization up to a world of hurt later on.

4. Project Changes

Finally, you'll want to take great care to make sure that you're documenting all changes to a project as they occur. Anything from personnel changes to project direction changes need to be added to the record at all costs. In a perfect world, you would have an Internet-based real-time project management tool that would store all of this information for you.

Key Takeaways:

  • Not everything is worth documenting - understanding exactly what is valuable is the key to successful project management.
  • Always document every interaction that you have with a client without exception.
  • Make sure to keep track of any changes to a project as they occur.

Successful project documentation is one of the major keys to project success in general. So long as you're keeping the right type of paperwork, you'll have everything you need to clear up misunderstandings with clients, cover yourself legally in the event that any serious issues should arise and more. If you fail to properly keep track of all of these things, you're setting your entire team up for a disaster that you may not be able to avert.

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