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5 Essential Documents for Project Management Success

We know that for any project to be successful, project managers and their teams should be able to plan and execute. However, this is only possible if they have the right tools and techniques. Several documents enable project managers, sponsors, teams and stakeholders to successfully manage and implement project activities. With the advancing technology, a software has been formulated to ease project work. Gone are the days of stacks of files and heaps of paperwork. What could be a load of paperwork is turned into simple computer files that can be easily stored and retrieved with ease. It saves time, resources, and is convenient. Let’s look at the documents that have simplified document management, data storage and execution of projects.

1. Project Charter

It is a document that a project sponsor or initiator develops in the process of project initiation. The document identifies in detail the necessity of the project. In other words, it gives authorization for the project to commence and grants power to the project manager to ask for resources to run the project activities. Similarly, the project charter authorizes project managers to conduct project activities. It contains a project statement that stipulates the product/service scope, business needs, and strategic plan. A project charter also entails the business case that explains demand, technologies to use, customer requests and the social and legal requirements. It also involves the necessary agreements that outline the intent of the project, organizational process assets and clearly states enterprise environmental factors.

It is given by someone external to the project team but on senior-level management in the organization. For instance, you need someone with a proper ranking to solicit resources, enforce accountability on all concerned members and influence key stakeholders. In other words, the person to offer a project charter must have authority over most project team members but must not be on the project team (not even the project manager). A project charter is important because it legitimizes the project manager’s role. It gives him the power to get the job done. It also legitimizes the project by formally allowing it to exist and /or continue. All this work is done in files or PDFs that can be retrieved anytime throughout the project process. It is much easier and saves time compared to traditional paperwork.

2. Project Management Plan

A project management plan is developed by the project manager together with the initiator or sponsor. It is established basing on the information given by the project charter. The project management plan is an essential document that directs the entire project and specifies the management plan. It covers costs, communications, procurement, process improvements, human resources, quality of deliverables, risks, and business requirements. Besides, it also covers schedules, stakeholders, project scope and all the project updates. A project management plan must be well developed and effective. It outlines the overall management approach and describes generally the authority and roles of each team member. It also should entail the organizations that will provide resources for the project and highlight limitations or resource constraints, if any. In case of decisions that need to be made by a particular individual, say authorizing more funding by the sponsor, it should be well stated here. It must be written in the form of an Executive Summary for the project plan.

3. Work breakdown structure (WBS)

It is a breakdown of the whole project. It ascertains all the work to be done by the project team to meet the set-out goals. A WBS details to the project team what is required of them to successfully deliver a service or customer product. This document breaks down all the deliverables (service/product) to the smallest units that can be understood by everybody concerned. A WBS gets its information from the project scope statement and the scope management plan. Also, the information regarding enterprise environmental factors, requirements documentation, and organizational process assets is identified in the WBS.

The project manager gets their team to brainstorm on all the deliverables in the project in no order. Then write them down on sticky notes and stick them on a whiteboard. Once all the members’ ideas are exhausted, break them down into smaller chunks of work. Break them even further until the manager can effortlessly manage them. Then arrange the sticky notes in groups under main areas of activity. Lastly, you can change, add, shuffle and remove sticky notes till your WBS is accurate, logical and complete. Its purpose is then achieved, which is to breakdown project deliverables into controllable work packages. This information can then be put into a software package such as filecenter dms paperless office software to provide a detailed plan.

4. Risk Management Plan

The ability to effectively manage potential risks is an added advantage to a project manager and their team. A good team leader should be able to anticipate risks and devise ways to deal with them effectively. A risk management plan detects any potential risks that may hinder the success of a project. Thereafter, it documents ways of how the identified risks will be addressed. It gathers its information from the project charter, project management plan, and stakeholder register. More information on the risk management plan comes from organizational assets and enterprise environmental factors.

The latest technology has devised digital systems and checklists that create rich data sets that help manage safety proactively. This is achieved through streamline audits that attach media and notes directly during inspections thereby saving time. Also, automated communication which gives immediate notifications in case of critical risks or when audit scores drop. Digital systems also deliver instant actions for issues that need immediate resolution. They also give real-time insights that are automatically generated every time an audit is completed.

5. Progress Reports

Progress reports are very vital in keeping stakeholders updated with the progress of the project. They entail whether the project is on budget, on time and meeting the quality necessary specifications. Most importantly, it gives information on whether the project is meeting the projected goals and expected deliverables. Get tips from CIO about how to meet your projected goals. Project reports are divided into 4 types namely, status reports, risk reports, executive/board reports, and resource reports. Status reports are the commonest and can be produced either weekly or monthly depending on the stage of the project and how much you have to report. Since much time is spent making status reports, it is important to devise faster ways to deliver them. Status report templates and project management software come in handy. Risk reports report about risks at least monthly and are usually given after a risk review meeting. It entails a summary of the risk profile of the project and details of risks with the potential to create most problems for the project. However, board reports are high level because they are meant for the executives. They include a summary of a budget position and other issues they can resolve. On the other hand, resource reports give the breakdown of which member is allocated what task and on what day.


For every project to plan and execute its activities, it needs all the above documents. However, they won’t be effective unless advanced technology such is applied. Gone are the days of loads of paperwork and filing cabinets that exposed important documents to fires, loss, and clutter. Embrace technology and save time, resources and risks.