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Project documents are essential for the success of any project. They provide a clear and consistent way of communicating the project goals, scope, schedule, budget, risks, and deliverables to all the stakeholders involved. It also help to ensure that the project is executed according to the agreed-upon plan and that any changes are properly managed and documented.

But what are the most important project documents that you need to know? And how can you create them effectively and efficiently? In this article, we will answer these questions and provide you with some examples and templates that you can use for your own projects.

What are project documents?

According to various definitions, project documentation is “a set of officially written, maintained or recorded material with information or evidence pertinent to your project.” The main purpose of project management documents is to provide materials that you can reference, and with which you can prove that something was or was not done.

Come in many forms – from project proposals and business cases, to project plans and project status reports. They can be created in different formats, such as Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, PDF files, or online tools. The type and format of project documents depend on the nature, size, and complexity of the project, as well as the preferences and requirements of the project stakeholders.

Project documentation has several purposes, such as:

  • Project planning:  Help to define the project scope, objectives, deliverables, milestones, tasks, resources, roles and responsibilities, budget, timeline, quality standards, and risk management plan.
  • Project execution:  Help to guide the project team and stakeholders on how to perform the work, monitor the progress, communicate the status, manage the changes, and resolve the issues.
  • Project control: Help to measure the performance of the project against the baseline plan and identify any deviations or variances that need to be addressed.
  • Project closure:  Help to document the lessons learned, best practices, achievements, challenges, and recommendations for future projects.
  • Project governance: Help to ensure that the project is aligned with the organizational strategy, policies, procedures, and standards.
  • Project audit: Help to provide evidence of the project activities and outcomes for internal or external review or verification.

What are some examples of project documents?

There are many types of project documents that can be created throughout the project life cycle. However, some of the most common and essential ones are:

  1. Project business case: This document provides justification for the project. It explains why the project is needed, what are the expected benefits and costs, how it aligns with the organizational strategy and goals, and what are the alternatives and risks.
  2. Project charter: This document formally authorizes the project and gives the project manager the authority to plan, execute, and manage the project. It defines the project scope, objectives, deliverables, stakeholders, roles and responsibilities, assumptions and constraints.
  3. RACI matrix: This document clarifies who is responsible (R), accountable (A), consulted (C), and informed (I) for each task or activity in the project. It helps to avoid confusion and conflicts among the project team members and stakeholders.
  4. Work breakdown structure (WBS): This document breaks down the project scope into smaller and manageable pieces called work packages. It helps to organize the work into a hierarchical structure that shows how each work package relates to each other and to the overall project deliverable.
  5. Project budget: This document estimates how much money is needed to complete the project. It includes all the costs associated with the resources.

Project Documents: What You Need to Know

Managing a project involves various aspects, and documentation plays a crucial role in its success. Project documents serve as the backbone of project management, providing structure, clarity, and a shared understanding among stakeholders. In this article, we will explore the essential project documents you need to know and understand to streamline your project processes.

1. Project Charter

The project charter is a foundational document that outlines the project’s objectives, scope, stakeholders, and overall approach. It serves as a formal authorization for the project to begin and provides a clear direction to the project team. The project charter helps establish a common understanding of the project’s purpose and sets the stage for its successful execution.

2. Project Plan

The project plan is a comprehensive document that outlines the project’s timeline, deliverables, resources, and dependencies. It breaks down the project into manageable tasks and provides a roadmap for the project team to follow. The project plan helps in tracking progress, identifying potential risks, and ensuring that the project stays on schedule.

3. Requirements Document

The requirements document defines the functional and non-functional requirements of the project. It captures the needs and expectations of the project stakeholders and serves as a reference for the project team during the development phase. The requirements document helps in maintaining alignment between the project deliverables and the desired outcomes.

4. Risk Management Plan

Risks are inevitable in any project, and a risk management plan helps in identifying, assessing, and mitigating those risks. This document outlines the strategies and processes for risk identification, analysis, response planning, and monitoring. A well-defined risk management plan enables proactive risk mitigation and enhances project resilience.

5. Communication Plan

Effective communication is critical for project success. The communication plan outlines the communication objectives, channels, frequency, and stakeholders involved in project communication. It ensures that the right information reaches the right people at the right time, fostering collaboration, transparency, and informed decision-making.

6. Change Management Plan

Projects often undergo changes, and a change management plan helps in managing those changes effectively. This document defines the processes, procedures, and responsibilities for requesting, reviewing, approving, and implementing changes. A robust change management plan minimizes disruptions, maintains control, and facilitates smooth transitions.

7. Quality Management Plan

Quality management is essential to deliver a successful project that meets the desired standards. The quality management plan outlines the quality objectives, criteria, and processes for ensuring and controlling quality throughout the project lifecycle. It includes activities such as quality assurance, quality control, and continuous improvement to achieve the desired project outcomes.

8. Lessons Learned Document

Learning from past experiences is crucial for continuous improvement. The lessons learned document captures the project team’s insights, experiences, and best practices for future reference. It helps in identifying what worked well, what didn’t, and areas for improvement. By documenting lessons learned, organizations can avoid repeating mistakes and enhance their project management capabilities.

Project documents are indispensable for effective project management. They provide structure, guidance, and a shared understanding among stakeholders, helping to streamline project processes and enhance overall success. By familiarizing yourself with the essential project documents discussed in this article, you can establish a solid foundation for your projects and increase your chances of achieving desired outcomes.

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Understanding the information in this article is an essential part of project management and a vital part of the PMP exam. Improve your project management skills or prepare for the PMP Certification exam by taking a quality online PMP exam prep course.

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Brain Sensei is great tool to have in the study arsenal while preparing for the PMP exam.

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Overall layout is good, but there are some quality issues. Progress isn't always saved across all devices and progress gets lost. Some small spelling mistakes. I loved the practical storyline...

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Need improvement in presenting more relevant real exam type questions. The practice exams are too simple and easy and do not prepare you for the real exam. Otherwise, good concept presenting material

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The prep materials provided plenty of content which prepared me well for the PMP exam. The questions were packed with information.

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Teaches the PMP in a solid manner, some things you need to know as a potential consumer: -The Samurai backstory is extremely short, and didn’t really assist me with recall in any in-depth way. It only gave broad brush-strokes as to what each phase entailed. -MOST of what was on the test was covered in the lessons, however if I had zero real prior PM knowledge prior to the test, I would have failed. -The first practice test forces you, as the student to actually read into the PMBOK, which was a benefit in the long run as it assisted me with quickly referencing what I needed to find. -The course will likely cover wave tops and subjects, forcing me to self-study for a week before my test... not a bad deal all things considered. -Brain Sensei’s course has incorporated Agile into one of their practice tests, and this test IS mandatory. This may seem strange, and I didn’t get a satisfactory reason why I needed to take a purely Agile test when I only wanted to take the PMP, for anyone else in this scenario, this is the reason: In June, PMI is revamping the PMP test to include Agile as a significant portion of the PMP. Brain Sensei is just ahead of the curve trying to get students prepared... fret not. Their customer service is extremely responsive and does take care of their members. My program had a couple bugs, and the customer service fixed my problems within 24 hours. All in all... it was absolutely worth the money for me.

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I am very impressed with this learning system. The content is laid out in a way that will make any learner understand all the process groups and ITTOs in order to understand Project management and be equipped to excel in the test. The learning system is engaging and fun at the same time. It's very different than other learning material which is composed mostly of videos. Some improvements are needed, but in my opinion Brain Sensei is great value for money

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At first, I was attracted to Brain Sensei training for their original learning program using a Samurai's story. And indeed it made the whole learning experience funnier - so easier. I felt like the Samurai. Then, I was amazed by The Brain Sensei Team's reactivity and help when I reached out through contact@brainsensei.com Their support was constantly reliable and efficient. I appreciated their professionalism and didn't feel on my own. At last, the course and the practice exams proved to be efficient since I passed the PMP exam - with 'Above Targe't in all Domains. So thank you so much Brain Sensei Team !! Charlene

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Overall very good. Got stuck a few times trying to find resources which I should have downloaded the before starting the program. Customer service has been great.

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SO far I am thoroughly enjoying the Brain Sensei PMP prep course. I have taken a Project management class as a part of my degree which I recently completed and project management has always interested me. I find the course to be educational and easy to follow. I am grateful that this course has been designed in such a way that is simple to understand all of the complexities in project management and that allows me to study at my own pace.

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The content is good and easy to understand

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This review is based on completing all course work through module 102. The story and interactive nature of the course are helpful for learning and relating the material. It would be nice to have the page numbers to the PMBOK guide where references are made to it. Other information that will be helpful, are the explanations to the practice questions at the end of each module. These are provided only after immediately answering the questions. Having these available in the score summary from the 'history' tab will be helpful to refresh why the answer is correct and other options are not.

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Overall I would rate this course an 8/10. I liked how there were exams towards the end of every module and I felt that it was very useful having it laid out in different scenarios. I rate it only an 8/10 as I had some glitch/software issues and lost my progress resulting in me having to re-do modules/exams multiple times. All in all, that was maybe useful in the end as it was a way for me study or 're-learn' the course material. Thank you!

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Clear and precise explanations of how things work. I was never lost navigating the course.

- Gary Nicol

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A smart approach to present the information which makes it fun and engaging while at the same time preparing for the PMP exam. Brain Sensei differentiates itself from other PMP exam preps in that it delivers the knowledge through the use of storytelling technique. I recommend this course because it will help you pass your PMP exam on the first try.

- Jamal

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Loved the story telling and the practice exams. I felt very prepared when the actual exam came around.

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One of a kind training that was truly engaging!

- Claire

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Excellent course for preparing for the PMP exam in a fun and engaging way! The practice questions resemble the actual questions on the exam making it a completely worthwhile experience.

- Rossetta

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I passed the PMP exam after taking Brain Sensei's Online PMP Certification Exam Prep. The practice exam questions were so similar to the questions that appeared on the exam. On exam day, when I sat down to take the test and started running through the questions I felt so relieved! The practice exams are also timed so you get more comfortable with the exam experience and feel better prepared when you sit down to take the test. The other differentiator was the video content throughout the modules. The concepts are taught through a story of a young samurai defending her kingdom. This will probably be the only PMP prep course where you can learn all the knowledge areas and feudal Japan at the same time. I'd recommend this course not just because of the videos but because it helped me pass my exam on the first try.

- Jackie

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Good course, but a few grammatical errors with how some questions were worded.

- Sonia

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It was good!

- Sergei

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Loved the unique approach and it still had all the info I'd expect from a full PMP exam prep course. Very responsive on questions too.

- Chris