Sidestep Disaster: 7 Project Documentation Blunders to Dodge
16 min read
Vlad Kovalskiy
August 24, 2023
Last updated: August 24, 2023
Sidestep Disaster: 7 Project Documentation Blunders to Dodge

Project documentation is essential in project management in that it accomplishes two things at the same time: it ensures that the project requirements are met and makes traceability as to what has been done by whom and when possible. There are many components to project management documents, and it’s vital that it’s kept accurate, up-to-date, and readily accessible to anyone who may need it. 

When the project begins, and things start to get hectic and crazy, it’s helpful to have your project scope document to get back to, keep things on track, and store everything on record. If you want to make sure you’re doing it right, you’re reading the right article. We’ll go through the most common mistakes in project documentation that you should keep an eye out for and avoid. 

Thorough documentation for blunder-free project managementf

When done properly, you can enjoy the following benefits from project documentation: 

  • Keep better track of project tasks and overall progress

  • Improve communication between your team and clients 

  • Be accurate in defining and assigning responsibilities

  • Strengthen employee productivity 

  • Describe project strategies and techniques for refined output

  • Eliminate the risk of information loss 

  • Convenient availability, ready for use by all 

  • Elevate the overall project success rate

To avoid disasters, project documentation must be done properly with various checks and vetting processes to eliminate errors. This is especially important when a project has a lot of components involving a lot of time, money, and effort.

Below are some of the blunders to avoid when it comes to project documentation as well as some ways you can utilize agile methods to make them available to virtual teams and encourage team collaboration in a hybrid office. 


1. Unauthorized content changes in project documentation

Too many cooks spoil the soup. The same goes for your project management documents when you have a handful of people allowed to make changes to them. Much of the useful information can get lost, and crucial resources may be missed. Making matters worse is when a document has multiple change options. Things can get messed up, displaced, or deleted altogether. 

If you want to avoid these blunders, use a project documentation tool that applies version control so you can manage various drafts and versions with auditing trails for revisions and updates. Limit editing permissions as well. As much as possible, keep your project management documents in Read-Only versions for regular staff. 


2. Project management document lack of accessibility

One of the ways having a hybrid office can fail is if the necessary resources are not accessible at all times. When you’re working on a project where time is of the essence, it’s essential always to confirm that everyone is on the same page – literally. However, that doesn’t mean that every project documentation is readily available. 

Thanks to modern technology, you can now bridge the gap between on-site and remote staff by using an online collaboration platform that not only hosts your project documentation but also stores all of your other essential references, freely open for use by anyone in your team at any time, wherever they may be working from. 


3. Unchecked errors and documentation mistakes

Remember that game children used to play called Pass the Message? One whispered message is passed down a line of children, and the closest summary at the end wins. For project management, there’s no “closest summary”; there’s no abridgment – everything has to be precise, accurate, and transcribed directly. 

To illustrate: You’re at a project kickoff meeting with a client who mentions something specific about their requirements for the project, but the notetaker missed it or misheard the statement. One small error – particularly one that goes unchecked – can be detrimental to the entire project. Your team will miss the mark and fall short of your client’s expectations, damaging your company’s reputation. 

Dodge this by assigning a notetaker for every meeting and another person to double-check the transcription, ensuring nothing is missed. You can also opt to have the meeting audio recorded, with your notetaker reviewing the completed file afterward to verify the alignment between notes and the recording. Once everything is in place, file all relevant documents in your project management repository.


4. Missing paperwork or supportive documents

Don’t you just hate it when you throw a piece of paper, thinking it’s too old and that it can’t possibly mean anything until a few days, and you’re kicking yourself mentally for throwing it away because it turns out you do need it? You can shrug these mistakes off in your personal life and make a mental note to be more careful next time, but when it comes to your project documentation, it can be catastrophic. 

How do you know what is important to a project? Which papers do you need exactly? The thing is, you can never really be too sure, so the rule of thumb is to keep every receipt, note, plan, printout, etc. Even though you’re not sure if you’ll really need it, just store it. Once the project is done, scan all the odd bits of paper and file them electronically with all the other project management documents in an archive folder.   


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5. Irregular, overlooked, or inconsistent updates

Think of it this way: maintaining project documentation really is like taking down meeting minutes. You’re supposed to take notes, keep track and store everything to update the project management from the conception of the project until its completion. However, it also happens that someone thinks someone else is doing the taking note, keeping track, and storing that in the end, no one does it. Or the updates are sporadic – consistent this week and nonexistent the next. 

Just as there is a structure to how your team approaches a project, there also has to be some form of it when it comes to your project documentation. Give everyone the task of gathering the papers like notes, receipts, and other paperwork related to the project. Instruct them to turn over their papers to your project documentation master for filing and to keep your project scope document updated. You’ll be sure to never miss anything ever again. 

Once the updates are done, be sure to get them double-checked and vetted by a project or quality assurance manager. Just give everything a once-over to ensure formats are uniform, formulas are accurate, links are working, and titles are relevant and concise. Having multiple checks in place and getting the latest version vetted guarantees the project documentation is up-to-date and standardized.



6. Background materials are not available

Suppose you’re trying to find out how a problem originated, but the historical data is missing, and you can’t replicate the error. They say prevention is better than cure, and when it comes to project management, it’s your background materials. Everything from the earliest prototypes, drafts, and unfinished plans – nothing can be left to chance. 

Keep a record of everything that you have in storage in support of your project documentation. This is best applied at the beginning of the project and maintained all throughout. Indexing background materials and historical documents will make it easier to locate whatever your team needs when they need it. Once they’re done with it, make sure it’s put back where it belongs. 


7. Unsecured storage

Hackers and scammers are rampant nowadays. Let your guard down for even a minute, and you can risk being robbed of everything that’s important. Just as you keep your project documentation secure from unauthorized changes and edits by assigning a point person, you need to shield it from people who might want to steal it or do damage to your project and reputation. 

If you have staff that do remote work or a hybrid office and you want to implement agile methods, invest in cloud storage that’s spacious, easily accessible, but safe and secure. Make sure your team will be able to retrieve what they need using whatever device they want to use, anytime and anywhere. A robust cloud storage management also allows you to give allowance for personal and team file storage capacity, cross-device file syncing, and daily backups. 

Give yourself peace of mind by putting money into cloud storage that has impenetrable security. This way, you know your store information is kept safe round-the-clock whether someone is safeguarding it or not. 


BONUS: More mistakes to watch out for

When it comes to project documentation maintenance, you can’t leave anything to chance. There has to be a sense of accountability in keeping your project management documents safe, up-to-date, and always at the ready. What other blunders should you dodge? Here are some of them: 

  • Language inconsistencies – The use of both American and British English spelling

  • Ambiguous captions 

  • Page numbering is not updated

  • Not including photos or diagrams 

  • The search function is absent

Always remember the reasons why you need a project scope document in the first place and keep a sense of appreciation for a well-maintained archive of data, information, and documents. Treat everything that comes in and out with a degree of respect, and you can guarantee your project will be a total success. 


Top-grade project documentation with the proper tools

Sure, you can’t guarantee or expect perfection, but there’s no reason you can keep errors at a minimum, and it is highly possible to do. A clever project manager understands that it all comes down to a hardworking team, a foolproof project management plan, and airtight project documentation storage. 

With the proper tools at your fingertips, you will be able to accomplish the following: 

  • Maintain impeccable project documentation

  • Avoid mistakes in the upkeep of project management documents

  • Make remote work possible

  • Equip both virtual and onsite teams for success

  • Establish effective and efficient team collaboration

  • Obtain a fully-functional hybrid office 

Smash every goal – whether it’s to do with communication, tasks, collaboration, or file storage – with Bitrix24. You can find the solution to every blunder, mistake, or hiccup at the Bitrix24 website. Service packages are available for teams of any size as well as onsite and remote support, should you need it. 

Knock every project out of the park with unparalleled service, dependable support, and high-quality results. Protect your team and reputation from ruin with reliable and well-built tools from Bitrix24. If you want to see how the solutions we offer answer each and every one of your needs, sign up today!


FAQ

How is project documentation done?

Project documentation is done by: 

  • Collecting all pertinent information
  • Taking note of every stage of the project
  • Organizing the information
  • Collaborating with teammates
  • Publishing with tags and indexes
  • Maintaining and updating the documentation
  • Storing securely
  • Ensuring accessibility

What is key project documentation?

Key project documentation is a reference or guide that includes the following:

  • Reminders from clients and leaders
  • Important notes
  • Meeting notes
  • Key decision-makers or chain of command
  • Deadlines 
  • Summary of deliverables

What are project documentation deliverables?

Project documentation deliverables are documentations that chronicle each phase in the lifespan of a given project. These phases are:

  • Initiation - When the purpose of a project is defined
  • Planning - Developing a detailed plan
  • Execution - Project plan implementation 
  • Monitoring and controlling - Measuring the project outcome against the plan
  • Closing - Project handoff to clients

How do you document requirements for a project?

Document the requirements for a project by, first, choosing which tools to use to aid you. Second, sit down with clients, stakeholders, and the project team to find out their needs and requirements. Third, store this document and, last, refer to this document throughout the project lifespan to monitor. 

What do you need to include in your project documentation?

You need to include the following in your project documentation: 

  • Everything client-related
  • Legal directives, ordinances, and codes
  • Adequate number of processes to document 
  • Changes to the project

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