Why Project Documents and Project Communication Planning Must Interact

Project managers find that documents are prepared and released multiple times throughout a project’s lifetime. Revisions and re-releases provides a problem for project managers. If document revision and release isn’t controlled properly, then the project could suffer from a number of pitfalls:

  • It can be difficult to see the difference between two different versions of the same document
  • Old documents remain in circulation
  • Stakeholders and contractors work to out-of-date documentation
  • The project manager doesn’t know who has been issued with the latest document release
  • There is no audit trail for changes

Document control is the project manager’s responsibility

While individual team members may be required to produce documents, their production and release must be centrally managed by the project manager. New versions should be numbered consistently (with the version number appearing on the front page and within the header or footer of each page of the document).

The project manager should also maintain a list of all those who have received documents and their revised versions: this will be the distribution list that can then be used to ensure revised documents are sent to those that need them.

Interaction between project communication and documentation

In recent posts I’ve discussed how communication planning is essential to project planning, and this is no more evident than when considering project communication by documentation. If stakeholders use non-current versions of documents, errors can be made which will be costly to the project in terms of time, financial, and confidence.

When planning s, document control should be a key element in the planning process.

Why new documents are needed

Documents provide a basis of record for all works during a project. In an ideal world only a single document would ever be needed for any single task, but we don’t live in an ideal world. There are many reasons that project documents need to be reviewed and revised, including:

  • Revised requirements of the client
  • New legislation and regulations that impact the project
  • New drawings or specifications have been delivered

Producing new project documents

Key to the effective control of project documents is the accuracy of numbering and delivery. The project manager will need to adhere to a set formula for the sequential numbering of documents (e.g. version 1.0, 1.1, 1.11, etc.) and maintain distribution list. This allows the project manager to maintain an effective audit trail of the production and distribution project documents production and distribution.

The project manager should bear in mind that the control of project documents is a quality deliverable for the project; failing to maintain documents properly could result in conflict between stakeholders, or even legal action where project communication and work is based upon obsolete documentation.

Make sure your project benefits from good control of documentation, and in-time release of new versions, as part of the project communication process.

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