How could the project documentation be structured?

Efficient project documentation - advantages, benefits, content and scope

Document projects

When Roald Amundsen set out on the South Pole expedition on August 9, 1910, he spent months preparing: 100 Greenland dogs, a prefabricated hut that was 7.8 meters long and 3.9 meters wide, and skis made of hickory wood, a very hard, resilient one and durable material, were in his luggage.

Amundsen put a 25,000 kroner mortgage on his own house to get it off. He was successful. On December 14, 1911, the Norwegian and his companions reached the South Pole.

We owe Amundsens for information on funding, milestones and equipment extensive documentation.

As Document important decisions and information in your project, you can find out in this post.


Project documentation - advantage and benefit

Expeditions and projects are unique endeavors. Project documentation is part of a successful project completion.

As a historical reference, it can support the following projects at the start. Documented errors provide the project manager with valuable information on how to avoid similar situations. At least now he will realize how important it is for his own project work to document expectations, ideas, experiences and mistakes right from the start.

A well structured, meaningful project documentation Managed over the entire project cycle, i.e. during the phases initiation, planning, implementation as well as monitoring and, ensures the project manager a number of advantages:

  • Find information faster
  • Make decisions in a comprehensible manner
  • Create legal certainty
  • Ensure the ability to provide information
  • avoid misunderstandings

Project documentation - scope and content

How much documentation is useful?

Different industries with different company sizes drive investments or innovations with project work. As different as the project character is designed, the scope and content of the project documentation can be designed just as differently.

The project manager is responsible for the success of the project. That's why he's looking for reasonable effort and a suitable process to get the essential information and decisions to document. But how much project documentation makes sense?

Basically: The main influencing factors of a project should be documented.

This includes:

  • Requirements and changes to the components of the magic triangle of project management such as content and scope, cost, time, quality and risk
  • Decisions, permits, restrictions
  • Historical information, knowledge, experiences
  • Contracts and agreements
  • Problems, defects and errors as well as measures to eliminate them
  • Reports and status reports
  • Project methods, tools, procedures and processes used
  • Agreements and protocols for the acceptance of the delivery item as well as a list of remaining work including responsibilities after completion of the project

The project management plan is one of the most important documents that the project manager needs to manage his project.

The PMBOK Guide (Project Management Body of Knowledge) des, the standard for international project managers, requires a complete and structured collection of project documents ("project archives") as a result of the project completion.

But in addition to the project management plan, the project manager needs other documents for his project. These include:

  • Project order: At the start of the project, the client and important stakeholders often have only vague ideas of how the delivery item should look. Before taking on the project, the project manager must therefore insist that the project objective and framework conditions are set out in writing in an official project order.
  • Work breakdown structure: The work breakdown structure (PSP) or work breakdown structure contains All tasksthat the project team needs to do in order to complete the assignment. The PSP consists of manageable components, work packages, on the basis of which resources can be planned and precedent and successor relationships can be derived.
  • Organization chart: The organizational chart includes all roles of the project as well as the names and contact details of the role owners. Ideally, a photo is attached to the contact information. That makes the presentation more personal.
  • Project diary: Whether the project manager wants to publish his daily transcripts is his personal matter. It makes sense that he be his Shares notes with the project team. This enables them to have an extended view of the project. In this way, project staff can better classify individual parts of the project work in the overall framework. Thinking “outside the box” contributes significantly to work motivation. In addition, the project diary provides valuable information for the Reporting.
  • Glossary / Wiki: A compilation specific technical terms helps the writer to achieve “mental hygiene”, that is, by translating project-specific terms, he reflects his own understanding. The user of the glossary receives a List of the most important dateswhich cannot be understood without a more detailed explanation.

Seven tips for the project worker

  • "If you're in a hurry, go slowly," writes the well-known time management expert Lothar Seiwert. Document your project work! Time well invested because the The benefit exceeds the effort.
  • Do not only collect the information at the end of the project in order to document it (this is often the case in practice). Archive them during the entire project process.
  • However, be careful that you do not all information indiscriminately to save. Otherwise your archive will become worthless because you will drown in the flood of information. The documentation that grows with the project should only contain selected information.
  • In one Project diary you can informally write down the most important decisions and information as the project progresses.
  • Documenting project work takes time. The archivist therefore extracts the most important information and stores it in a suitable manner. Provide a clear structure in which project workers can quickly find their way. use professional software with role model, intuitive user interface and remote access. There are several offers on the market: Microsoft's OneNote for smaller projects and Microsoft SharePoint for large projects. Both applications offer a variety of functions that go well beyond simple archiving. You can find further suggestions in the seminar paper by Manuel Kraus in openPM.
  • Give your documents a speaking name. Already in the file storage and without having to open the document, it should be clear in which project phase, by which sub-project and on which topic the document was created. Ideally, you should add an abbreviation for the name to the name Versioning to. In this way, all authorized users are informed which file is the last and currently officially finalized file.
  • You don't have to everyone error do it yourself in order to learn from it. Browse through other colleagues' project documents. Learn from them and derive knowledge from them for your own project work.

Project management templates for classic and agile projects

Project canvas template: important data at a glance

Tools, plans, reports, boards and methods

The most important templates and tools for all phases of your project: initiation, planning, control through to completion.

✔️ Extensive selection of Documentation templates and tools and updating your projects

✔️ Ideal for quick update meetings and for updates of the (agile) status

✔️ Suitable for different project types and sizes

✔️ Unlimited use: use the templates for your own needs - as often as you like

➩ View templates here


Book tip

Modern project management: with traditional, agile and hybrid approaches to success (advertising)

You will learn what distinguishes traditional things and in which situations they have strengths and weaknesses.

In addition, the author shows you when and where to use. So you can traditional and agile approach combine when it makes sense.

The book works current standards like the Individual Competence Baseline (ICB) 4.0 of and that of the Project Management Institute (PMI).

Paperback: 550 pages
Publisher: Wiley-VCH; Edition: 1. (July 12, 2017)
Language: German

Also available here at Amazon (Advertising).

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About the author

Werner Plewa

Project manager, expert in professional development and personnel development. Contact request also at XING: