Project Management Documents

Project management documents help project managers oversee work efficiently. Each project management process has a document, and using these documents can help project managers streamline the processes and lead the project smoothly. 

In this article, we will discuss 11 essential project management documents. 

Project Management Documents

Below is the list of the essential 11 project management documents:

  1. Project Business Case
  2. Project Charter
  3. Project Communications Plan
  4. Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
  5. Project Budget
  6. Statement of Work
  7. RACI matrix
  8. Change Requests Management
  9. Risks Log
  10. The Action and Issues Log
  11. Lessons Learned

#1. Project Business Case

A project business case document describes the need and purpose of the project. It includes a cost-benefit analysis justifying the value received by the project versus invested costs. 

It assesses the benefit, cost, and risk of various alternatives and justifies the preferred solution. A project business case is submitted to top management for their approval. 

Components of a Project Business Case

Economic analysis is a key component of a business case document. It shows an analysis of the return on investment, the organization’s ability to afford and complete the project, the management strategy, the roles, the governance structure, the life cycle selection, and more.

If the business case is approved, then the organization can proceed with launching the project or program.

#2. Project Charter

A project charter authorizes the existence of the project and appoints the project manager. It provides project managers with resources to complete the project and explains the project, its objectives, and the output of the project.

A project charter includes the project’s objectives, budget, key milestones, key stakeholders, major risks, assumptions & constraints, metrics to monitor and evaluate success, and related items.

This document ensures all stakeholders agree on the project’s goals. 

At a minimum, the project charter should answer the following questions:

  1. What are the project’s objectives?
  2. What are the key assumptions and constraints?
  3. What are the key risks, key stakeholders, etc.?
  4. Who is the project manager?
  5. What is the project budget and the project duration?
  6. What is the project output?
  7. What is the business reason for starting the project?

#3. Project Communications Plan

A project communications plan defines the communication strategies for stakeholders’ communication needs throughout the project life cycle. A communication plan ensures stakeholders are always updated with the required information.

What to Include in the Project Communications Plan

A communication management plan can include

  1. Key stakeholders: It includes all key stakeholders, roles, and contact information.
  2. Communication Methods: It outlines the primary communication methods and different channels to contact stakeholders.
  3. Communication Goals and Objectives: This shows the communication needs and what the communication plan aims to achieve.
  4. Measures of Evaluation: How will the success of the communication plan be determined?

#4. Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

The work breakdown structure is a hierarchical breakdown of the project work. A work breakdown structure divides deliverables into smaller, manageable components. It assists a project manager in project planning and ensures that all project requirements are met.

A work breakdown structure (WBS) is a deliverable-oriented deconstruction of a project. It is useful for project managers because it allows them to break down the project scope and visually show all project tasks.

The work breakdown structure is an essential project planning tool. It divides a project into deliverables; this is the top level. Afterward, the deliverables are broken down into work packages. The work packages are then further broken down into activity levels.

Project managers use project management software to create a work breakdown structure. 

A work breakdown structure (WBS) helps avoid common project issues such as missed deadlines, scope creep, cost overruns, etc.

#5. Project Budget

A project budget document provides funds for the estimated resources to complete the project. A project budget consists of activity cost, contingency reserve, and management reserve. 

The approved version of the project budget document is also known as the cost baseline, and the project cost performance is measured against this baseline.

#6. Statement of Work

A statement of work (SOW) document describes the requirements of a project.

An SOW can include

  1. The project’s goal
  2. The scope of the work being done
  3. The project’s location, duration, and any work requirements
  4. Deadlines and deliverables to be expected
  5. Acceptance criteria
  6. Any necessary hardware and software

A detailed SOW can eliminate the risk of misunderstandings or disputes between parties and reduce risk by ensuring all stakeholders understand the project work.

#7. RACI Matrix

The RACI matrix, also known as the RACI chart, is a straightforward table or spreadsheet that lists project stakeholders and their relation to project activity. It is an example of a responsibility assignment matrix (RAM). 

 A RACI matrix promotes clear communication and smooth workflows among all team members.

RACI stands for

  1. Responsible
  2. Accountable
  3. Consulted
  4. Informed

Responsible

This team member is responsible for the task. This person completes the job or develops the deliverable. Every task should have at least one person in charge.

Accountable

This is the owner of the task and approves the task completion. They ensure the responsible team member completes work on time. Every task should not have more than one account team member.

Accountable team members are usually in leadership or management positions.

Consulted

These stakeholders have provided their input on the project requirements.

Although not every task requires a consulting role, the project manager should consider all potential stakeholders’ roles when developing the RACI chart.

Informed

These stakeholders should be informed of the project status. They must be aware of the task. They are labeled as “informed,” but they are not consulted during the decision-making process.

Informed parties are mostly outside of the project team and in different departments. For example, they may include section heads of the organization’s different functional units or senior management. 

Project managers create RACI charts to avoid missing important details and to ensure clear communication throughout the project.

#8. Change Requests Documents

A change request document is a formal document that project managers use to process change requests in the project process or deliverables.

Below are some components of a change request document:

  1. The name of the project, the request number, and the requestor
  2. A description of the change, the reason for the change, its impact on the project, and the proposed action to be taken
  3. The change’s business priority
  4. The current status of said change 

#9. Risks Register

A risks register records identified project risks and help project managers keep track of each risk.

The risks register includes the identified risks, their analysis, likelihood of risk occurrence, risk owner, risk action owner, risk watchlist, response plan, status, and other related items.

A risk register is also known as a risk log.

#10. Issues Log

This project management document records and tracks the project’s issues that may arise.

Issue logs can take many forms and include anything from a simple spreadsheet to a company’s project management software’s built-in task management features.

A project manager should use the issues log-in team meetings for follow-up. The issue log serves as a reporting and communication tool. 

#11. Lessons Learned

Lessons learned documents record positive and negative experiences of a project. These lessons help project managers learn from past mistakes to avoid making the same mistake in future projects.

Likewise, it also captures best practices that can be used for future projects.

Lessons learned are parts of the organizational process’s assets and represent the organization’s commitment to project management excellence and the opportunity for the project manager to learn from the actual experiences.

Lessons learned are documented throughout the project’s life cycle.

Essential Project Management Documents Table

table for project management documents

Conclusion

Project management documents are an essential part of project management. They help keep projects moving, keep stakeholders up to date, and help project managers complete the project with minimal hassle. Using these project management documents can improve the overall quality of a project.