A certain amount of record keeping and core documentation is required in any project. We have attempted to keep the proposed documentation to the minimum essential in order to define and manage the project and measure its success.
Well-managed records will not only help you manage a project, they will help you and/or others the next time round. Many projects are repeated or have certain aspects that have been done or researched before. Well organised and accessible records allow people to review what has gone before and either avoid pitfalls or see how to get out of them. Many managers new to project management may be asking ‘How much time will be devoted to filling in forms or records. The real question however is ‘How important are the forms and records?’
Most of the key documents associated with your project will:
- Be referred to repeatedly during the course of the project
- Need updating periodically
This includes the business case, project plan, risk and issue logs and possibly many other documents.
The possibility for error by having different versions of documents ‘floating about’ a project’s team members and management is too high not to address it with a little formality. Even in today’s electronic environment, many people prefer to read documents on paper and they will be printed out in multiple copies, put in desk drawers or filing cabinets and pulled out again at some point whether the latest version or not.
It is important therefore to apply some Information and records management techniques to all project documentation, to ensure that there is an authoritative source of the latest version and that the master of each document is kept safely. The Information Lifecycle infoKit set of resources have much to say about the benefits of and techniques for achieving this.
In a large project it is probably best to ensure that someone within the team has special responsibility for version control, storage of master copies of documents etc. In a small project, the project manager may be able to fulfil this role. In an organisation running many projects or programmes, this function can be handled by a dedicated support office, with staff who will handle the files, logs and records for multiple projects or programmes.
In addition to documents and records about the project, there will be records, documents and artefacts that will be products of the project.
These could be policies, procedures, guidelines, software, training materials or physical products, each of which could go through iterations of development before they are ‘issued’ for testing or full implementation and with possible multiple versions of issue.
It makes sense for the same person or team handling the version control and storage of records of the project to perform the same function for the products of the project.
This is especially important where those products may be physical objects or software that require to be issued for testing to users where it is necessary to ensure that the products do not remain at large. Some system for logging the issue and return of products should be kept in such cases. In the case of software having been issued for testing, it may be necessary to ensure and log that the test copies have been deleted from user computers or networks.