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A Quick Guide to 10 Essential Project Plan Documents for Project Managers

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project-plan-document
project-plan-document

One of the most vital components of any project is the project plan documents. It’s one of the minor favourite activities of most project managers. It may seem tedious, but comprehensive planning can determine your project’s success. Let’s explore what project documentation is and why it’s essential.

Project Plan Documents

Project managers can properly manage work with the use of project management documentation. Each step in the project management process includes a document that project managers can use to make the process more efficient and manage the project more effectively.

The project plan document must be clear, accurate, and pertinent. This ensures that all project stakeholders are on the same page at any stage of the project development. All parties should know the expectations, needs, resources, and risks from the beginning – and project plan documentation helps you ensure that.

There isn’t a “one size fits all” solution to that problem, and a successful project may require both extremes.

This article will go through the ten crucial project plan documents and show you how to handle project data using a SharePoint document library. Read on.

Project documentation questions you need to answer before the commencement of the project

Consider comprehending the project’s purpose and any potential governance needs before collecting or generating project documentation.

It will be clear from this how much and what kind of project documentation you require and the availability of any templates you might have used before.

These are some of the questions that you should ask yourself and your stakeholders before the commencement of your project:

  • What are the project’s objectives and goals?
  • Has a similar project ever been undertaken before?
  • If so, were project files saved for future reference?
  • Is there a Standard Operating Procedure?
  • Technology or platforms required for the project
  • Who are the key personnel required for the project?
  • How much is the budget?
  • What’s the project timeline?
  • Type of communication required.

Types of Project Planning Documents

The components you need to document during a project’s life cycle are difficult to describe precisely because it largely depends on the project you are in charge of. A significant endeavour at a big organisation typically necessitates much more paperwork than a modest initiative at a young startup.

But in most cases, project plan documents are necessary. Here are 10 sample project planning documents that your project might need.

  • Project Business Case
  • Project Charter
  • RACI Matrix
  • Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
  • Risks Log
  • Project Communications Plan
  • Change Request Management
  • Project Timeline
  • Lessons Learned Register
  • Project Closure Document

A) Project Business Case

The project is primarily justified in this document. The kick-off document outlines the project’s purpose, goals, objectives, and desired outcomes.

A simple email from a client or a 50-page word document with input from 10 project stakeholders can both serve as the project’s business case. Usually, the project sponsor is in charge of creating the business case, which may include an analysis of its economic viability.

The project business case paper lists the requirements and goals of the project. It comprises a cost-benefit analysis to support the project’s worth versus the costs incurred. A project business case often requires approval from the company’s top management.

b) Project Charter

A Project Charter affirms the existence of the project and the project manager’s appointment. It outlines the project, its goals, and its output while also providing project managers with the tools they need to finish the project. It also lists the essential stakeholders, significant risks associated with the project, assumptions, limits, and success indicators.

This agreement guarantees that all parties understand and acknowledge the project’s objectives.

The project charter must, at the very least, answer the following:

  • Project’s objectives
  • Key risks and constraints
  • Key stakeholders of the project
  • Who is the Project Manager?
  • Project budget and approximate time for completion
  • Project output
  • The business reason for starting the project

c) RACI Matrix

RACI is an essential element of a project plan document, and it stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed. It is a simple table that lists various stakeholders in the project and their relation to project activity. With the help of the RACI Matrix, one can outline the different roles and responsibilities of individuals involved in the project and clear up any uncertainties associated with the task to boost productivity.

d) Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

A vital aspect of any project planning documentation is the Work Breakdown Structure. The project work is hierarchically broken down with the help of the Work Breakdown Structure. This framework further breaks down the deliverables into smaller, more manageable parts. It aids in project planning and guarantees the fulfilment of project requirements.

Work Breakdown Structure can help you avoid missed deadlines, budget overruns, and other typical project-related issues.

e) Risks Logs

Risks logs (also known as a Risk Register) record identified project risks and help project managers keep track of each risk. It includes the identified risks, their analysis, likelihood of risk occurrence, risk owner, risk action owner, risk watchlist, response plan, status, and other related items.

It is always a good idea to follow a standard logging format, for example, Issue name or ID, description, impact, probability, proposed mitigation, and the owner or person accountable. This can ensure less wastage of time and can improve efficiency and productivity.

f) Project Communications Plan

A project communications plan outlines the communication strategy for fulfilling the needs of stakeholders all along the project’s life cycle. A communication strategy guarantees that relevant information is passed down to all stakeholders regularly.

A Project Communications Plan must contain the following components:

Key stakeholders: It contains a list of each key stakeholder’s names, positions, and contact details.

Communication Methods: It describes the primary forms of communication and many ways to get in touch with stakeholders.

Goals and objectives for communication: This outlines the communication requirements and what the communication plan seeks to accomplish.

Evaluation Criteria: Accessing the effectiveness of the communication plan.

The plan also specifies team members’ responsibilities in addition to communication channels, such as a weekly report, communication channels, etc.

g) Change Request Management

Project managers process “change requests” in the project’s deliverables or process using a formal document known as a Change Request Document.

Some elements of a Change Request Document are as follows:

  • The project’s name, reference number of the request, and the requestor.
  • An explanation of the modification, its justification, its effect on the project, and the suggested course of action.
  • The change in project priority.
  • The current state of the said change.

 

Change requests typically influence the project schedule. Additionally, reviewing and updating the project plan documents is essential once the stakeholders approve the project changes.

h) Project Timeline

Project Timeline determines the type of work and the one responsible for delivering it. It is easier to track late tasks and missing milestones when the planned schedule serves as a baseline for the actual program.

Technologies like Microsoft Project are available to perform this automatically, like Microsoft Project, for complex and minor scheduling requirements.

i) Lessons Learned Register

This is a crucial document that helps an organisation to collect project information and its associated improvements.

It is essential to ensure that the register stays updated throughout the project even though the delivery happens after the completion of the project. Keeping track of discoveries throughout a project will result in higher-quality, more accurate insights.

The organisation’s culture of project management and governance will determine this document’s format and level of depth. The entire project should agree upon and contribute to the lessons learned register.

j) Project Closure Document

Finally, you must create a formal project closure document during the closure phase.

The document must cover the following:

  • What the project delivered
  • How the project fared in terms of the time, cost, quality, and scope measures?
  • Any lingering dangers, problems, or activities at the moment of closure
  • The storage location of the project files.
  • Anything details that the recipient of the transfer should know.

This is the most crucial document that needs to be officially approved and signed off compared to all others. The project closure is not official as long as the project sponsor doesn’t sign off on this document.

Managing Project Plan Documents with the help of SharePoint

Once the necessary project papers are in place, you will need a management system to ensure that the team is utilising the correct templates and maintaining the documents.

SharePoint is a popular and widely used tool for project management. The software centralises a project’s data and responsibilities in one location. Additionally, you can customise SharePoint to match your project’s strategy, which can benefit many users by standardising delivery and enhancing visibility.

Right out of the box, you can see that SharePoint has:

  • A centralised  location to store documents
  • The option to add different lists, libraries, and applications
  • Ability to customise the site
  • Manage user access using Permissions

Project management is a collaborative process, and as you can see, SharePoint has all the components to ensure your project is a collective success.

Conclusion

Projects rely heavily on project plan documents to ensure smooth operation and timely execution. They support project managers in completing tasks efficiently, keeping stakeholders informed, and moving projects. They significantly raise a project’s overall quality.

SharePoint, a project collaboration platform, is ideally suited for managing projects. Its ability to sync with Microsoft Project is one added advantage that we are sure you will appreciate. You can effortlessly manage your project schedule in Microsoft Project and communicate and work with your team on SharePoint by using the two-way sync between Project and SharePoint.

At Neologix, we understand the importance of having a practical and adaptable process to ensure the success of your business. To ensure that your projects always get off to a flying start, our team at Neologix can help you build a customised project management solution that can improve your team’s efficiency and productivity while reducing operational costs. 

Reach out to us if you have any questions. We will be more than happy to assist you.

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