3 Project Documentation Practices You Must Not Miss Out On – 2021

Urmi Shah

Urmi Shah

Senior editor

Parul Saxena

Chief editor

Last updated: September 9, 2021

The human being is the only animal capable of tripping twice over the same stone.

Mistakes are inevitable. We agree that they are a stepping stone for a better process. But, it is the repeated mistakes, which if unnoticed, cause severe damages to businesses than the first mistake.

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Here’s how you can break free from the vicious circle of repeating your errors. Invest in maintaining project documentation. If you already have and are still repeating your mistakes, maybe you need to access its usability and optimize it further.

The best minds have repeatedly said it “I’ve found that almost nothing reveals gaps in my thinking better than writing about an idea as if I am explaining it to a beginner.” Similarly, project documentation aids the team to identify and bridge gaps collectively.

Project documentation is more than just a list of tasks. The benefits of document lifecycle and its process details every step of the project and any changes that need to be made. What looks like a straightforward set of tasks can turn out to be riddled with red tape and hidden costs if you aren’t organized. It’s crucial to have this detailed info in order to navigate the time-consuming approval processes that come with working with contractors and estimating costs.

Documentation serves as a primary source of information when working on a team or a personal project. For example, whether you assemble a structure for a student housing project or prepare an insurance proposal, there will be questions to answer and actions to take.

The importance of maintaining a good project document cannot be understated. If you fail to gather proper project management documents or forget to follow through on a plan that you have set forth, the consequences can be dire. Well, let’s address the positive side first.

There are multiple reasons to maintain project management documents:

  1. It makes it easier to look things up later on.
  2. Your coworkers will be able to see how you work together and learn from you. Instead of just reading an author’s page and getting an idea of what someone does, you have direct experience.
  3. By documenting processes and decisions, you keep the organization around you organized and help other people get hired/promoted.

Are you convinced that it is essential to maintain a project document? Since you are hooked, we take it as a yes. So, let’s learn some of the best practices for document management.

As important as it is to maintain a project document, it is equally, if not more important, to implement its exemplary practices.

Project documentation
Source:altexsoft

Best Practices to Manage Project Documentation

Invest the time

No matter how long it seems, investing enough time in documenting the project is crucial. Maintaining project documents adds up to many hours of work over a year and can pay huge dividends in terms of credibility. Unfortunately, many teams struggle to keep accurate records of their past projects, completing far fewer projects than they should because of sloppy record-keeping.

Let’s look at the time invested from a different perspective. How helpful would it be for every new member in your team, or even when the old team member has some confusion? They won’t have to ask around. Other members would not have to train them to consider that time put to better use. All the new members will have to do is read and assimilate the project documentation to catch up.

For instance, if a senior resource would have to invest time to teach all work procedures, structure, and planning, how much would that cost every time a new member joins? And compare the same, where every team has to invest time in maintaining a project document. Eventually, both would perform the same task. Which do you think would cost you more?

Wait, there’s more to it. Let’s evaluate the opportunity cost. A person without documentation and detailing of all work processes starts being productive after 30 to 45 days; documentation could be 10 to 15 days.

Write it from the reader’s perspective

Simple. Clear. Precise. That is how project documentation is maintained. While technical terms are essential, mentioning their definition and simplifying the entire documentation ensures its effectiveness for every reader.

Project documentation could be used by the client, any senior manager, or a new joiner looking forward to learning. With such a vast audience, it is essential to write it in a way that benefits all.

White and Gold Architecture Presentation

Things to keep in mind while writing a project document

  • Mention the main goal
  • Keep the sentences short
  • Give examples
  • Present facts and data
  • Structure the report
  • Link to your email address at the end
  • Avoid passive voice

And in the end, don’t forget to update your document. It is crucial to update the project document to keep it relevant. Also, mentioning a version history containing a brief, updated version helps the readers understand the motive better.

Write a document that is easy to update

Throughout the year, you need to update your project document to stay on track. Even if the deadlines have been passed and the work is completely done, it’s always important to review what needs to be done next so that you don’t miss anything.

Reviewing your project documents regularly will help keep them organized and up-to-date with any changes that occur. This is especially helpful if you’re working on more than one project, as it becomes difficult to keep track of which tasks need to be completed in which order and due to their interrelated nature.

Making it easy to contribute to is one crucial way to ensure that it is updated regularly. Leveraging a winning document management strategy to make contributing and reviewing accessible is an excellent way to start.

Four Weeks -The average number of weeks a manager spends each year looking for records. This doesn’t surprise you, does it?

We have got a pro tip for you. Above everything, make sure that your document is searchable. What good is a project document if you can’t find it when you need it, right?

On a personal note

Whether you’re starting an online business or starting a side hustle, document everything. Save ideas. Test ideas. Publish when ready. This is how you stay motivated. The importance of keeping your side hustle or business documentable isn’t just for your own sake — it’s also important if you want to locate your own business moving forward.

For instance, you might want to hire a professional to take care of the paperwork for you should you decide to hire an accountant. How you choose to document your project will set a precedent for how you do business with others.

So, how do you maintain your project document? What are the practices you are planning to implement? Do let us know in the comments below.

Urmi Shah
Urmi specializes in writing long-form actionable insights for the SaaS domain. She has been creating content that translates the brand stories and their expertise for 3+ years. Her content empowers businesses to build and engage with communities and develop better visibility. When not scribbling, she explores the new tools and technologies in the industry.

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