Topic 1.9: Project documents

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Project documents - which are known elsewhere as organisational process assets - are the lifeblood of any project.

Although they are increasingly being raised in dedicated project software, many organisations still use word-processing or spreadsheet applications to maintain them.

The following infographic shows the point in the project lifecycle when they are typically developed or delivered; however, this is a loose categorisation.

Each may in fact be developed earlier and/or used later, depending on the needs of the project.

It has been said that sometimes all a good project plan does is document your failures with greater precision.

Although this scenario is the exception, it is possible to have a perfectly documented project that somehow finds a way fail.

Importantly, project documents should support and enable project delivery, as opposed to getting in the way of project delivery.

Sometimes the constraints of documentation can frustrate the work of the project. This will manifest as general inefficiency, missed opportunities and poor staff morale – don’t be overly bureaucratic!

It is nonetheless important to note that while following a documented process may be a minor nuisance to the project team, the positive outcomes enjoyed by all stakeholders usually make the process worthwhile.

That said, not every process needs to be used on every project.

Keep the end in sight – challenge the value that each process delivers relative to the objectives of the project and your organisation.

We will address this balance more directly as we move through the program; for now, though, recognise and appreciate that a project structured around some key, enterprise specific documents can bring the previous stated benefits of methodology to the organisation and the team.

It is important to note that every register, document and plan we introduce in this course should ultimately be informed by a higher-level organisational policy.

A policy is a set of rules for doing business (how we do things); whereas, the documents we refer to here usually encode a specific set of actions (what we do)

Policy development is best considered in the context of programs and portfolios of work. It is beyond the scope of a project management course.

Nonetheless, in the absence of specific policy guidance from your organisation, we will introduce you in this course to a number of ‘best-practice’ project documents that you can align to the policy context of your organisation and the projects it delivers.