One fine morning, as you walk towards your office feeling absolutely great, your boss suddenly pounces at you, literally out of thin air. He bombards you with questions about the project you’ve been managing, your progress and the results obtained. You stare at him dumbfounded because even though you know how great a success the project is turning out to be, you have no evidence to prove it simply because you have been too lazy to document the details. Sounds like a total project management disaster, right? It’s astounding how so many of us totally forget about the significance documentation holds for a project and only learn the hard way, which is also the embarrassing way and the notorious way.
Why documentation holds immense importance for project management:
Documentation may be in the form of time records, daily reports by a project manager, schedules, photographs, videos, correspondence either by a letter or an email or a fax, filing or by information logs. The importance of documentation is so tremendous, many project managers are now terming it their top priority while managing any kind of work.
- 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.
- Your clients want answers all the time. So does your team and your own boss! Last but not the least and very importantly so, you yourself need answers too. Documentation helps you deal with all these queries.
- While carrying out a project, you may need to document every other thing to protect your own self from being accused falsely. People tend to blame project managers for whatever goes wrong. Documentation in the form of letters, emails, photographs or schedules is proof that protects you from lawsuits or other complications later on.
- Documentation is evidence of a good project management. It helps you track activities related to the project, find out if time constraints are being met, monitor productivity and plan for the future. A good project manager will never leave any loose ends to his project.
- By carrying out this important task, the project manager and the stakeholders are all expecting the same outcomes. There are no unpleasant surprises and no unknown risks.
- Conflicts, disagreements and problems amongst all parties seldom arise. When all aspects of the project are right in front of everyone, it leaves little room for argument.
- Documentation also helps every individual member involved to have complete knowledge of their responsibilities, have a clear idea of what is expected from them and how they need to manage their work.
- If the correct record keeping protocol is followed, it gives the project manager complete control over the project by being the best source of knowledge for the entire team.