CXO

6 essential documents for project management success

Here are six key documents that project managers and their teams rely on to successfully guide and execute projects.

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Image: iStock/NicoElNino

Careful project planning and execution rest on having talented project managers and the right techniques and tools. There are also several key documents that enable sponsors, project managers, teams, and stakeholders the ability to carefully and precisely manage required project activities. Below is a list of those documents, the role they play, and why each one is necessary for managing project activities and providing necessary deliverables.

1. Project charter

Within initiating a project, the project initiator or sponsor develops a document called a project charter. This is a document that identifies the need for the project, formally provides authorization for a project, and grants authority to the project manager to request resources and conduct project activities. The project charter contains:

  • A project statement of work that references the business need, product/service scope, and strategic plan
  • The business case for the project that details the demand, customer requests, technologies, legal and social requirements
  • Any necessary agreements that define the goals or intent of the project
  • Enterprise environmental factors
  • Organizational process assets

SEE: IT project cost/benefit calculator (Tech Pro Research)

2. Project management plan

Within the planning phase, a project management plan is developed by the project manager in collaboration with the project sponsor or initiator, based on the information provided by the project charter. This essential document guides the entire project and details the management plans that cover the following:

  • communications
  • costs
  • human resources
  • procurement
  • process improvements
  • quality of deliverables
  • business requirements
  • risks
  • schedules
  • project scope
  • stakeholders
  • project updates

    3. Work breakdown structure (WBS)

    This essential document is a decomposition of the entire project that identifies all the work to be carried out by the project team to meet the project goals and successfully deliver the customer product or service. In the WBS, all deliverables (product or service) are broken down to the smallest unit. The information that goes into the WBS comes from the scope management plan, the project scope statement, any requirements documentation, as well as enterprise environmental factors and organizational process assets that are identified.

    SEE: How to keep your staff motivated and engaged (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

    4. Risk management plan

    How to effectively deal with potential risks is always of significant concern to any project manager and their team. The risk management plan identifies any potential risks to the success of the project and documents how those risks will be addressed. Inputs for this plan will come from the project management plan and project charter, the stakeholder register, enterprise environmental factors, and organizational c assets.

      5. Change request log

      This essential document can save organizations, project managers and their teams, sponsors, and stakeholders significant grief. It identifies any and all changes requested, including who made the request and who authorized it to be enacted. This document is crucial since the entire project scope can be adversely impacted by what can seem like a slight change.

        6. Progress reports

        Progress reports are also vital in keeping all stakeholders up-to-date with how the project is progressing, and whether it is on time, on budget, meeting the quality specifications necessary, and, above all, meeting the intended goals and expected deliverables.

        In addition to these six vital project management documents, there are of course other necessary documents for successful project execution. These six documents will help you define, plan, monitor, control, execute and guide your projects more accurately and effectively.

        Also see:

        About Moira Alexander

        Moira Alexander is the author of "LEAD or LAG: Linking Strategic Project Management & Thought Leadership" and Founder & President of Lead-Her-Ship Group. She's also a project management and IT freelance columnist for various publications, and a contr...

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