Monday, December 6, 2010



During the life cycle of a typical project, a project manager can produce up to fifty different types of documents to facilitate the planning, tracking and reporting of the project. Documents range from feasibility studies, resource plans, financial plans and project plans, to supplier contracts, post-implementation reviews, change request forms and project status reports.

The primary role of a project manager is to manage the unexpected. The concept of planning by its very nature is designed to mitigate and manage the unexpected. As a part of the planning process, most project managers would agree that the project document plays a central role in strategically developing the best possible plan and to effectively communicate progress and status updates to all stakeholders. More importantly, the manner in which the project document is managed will determine a project manager's effectiveness in responding to the unexpected.

Although the project document work flow will vary from organisation to organisation, good project managers will develop a number of basic project documents in order to maintain high standards in the delivery of projects. A standardisation of the documentation is typically seen in the following project phases:

1.Project definition or conception:In this phase the project charter document is at the heart of initiation. Defining the charter and the details surrounding the project's objectives are key drivers in building the project's road to success

    2.Project planning:In this phase, the project leadership plans for the unexpected. The documents detailing the project plan, scheduling of resources, client agreements, and risk management, house the strategic details of the project.

    3.Project: In this phase, tracking and reacting are the name of the game. Here the project documents are delivering the actual and updates to the project plan. Tracking cost, time, physical progress and emerging issues are documented in this phase.

    4.Project closure: In this phase, documents will detail outstanding issues and/or deliverable, review of project outcome, and best practices project management processes to be utilised for future use.

Once again, these project phases are guidelines to what document types play a critical role within the project life cycle. In the upcoming sections of this paper, I will be highlighting the obstacles created by a poor document management strategy and how these issues can be addressed with the right strategy in place.
The primary issue project managers' face when managing the multitude of documents is the sheer volume of information that is contained in all the project documents that needs to be shared among all project stakeholders. Although the collection of project information is essential, many project managers are challenged with the ability to effectively access the most relevant information across all project documents to quickly respond to project bottlenecks and provide status updates to their stakeholders.


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