project management

Top 9 Essential Documents for Project Management Success

Project Managers cannot afford to ignore documentation. Though of late, with the industry adopting Agile methodology, there is a misconception that documentation has to be completely ignored. Particularly Project Managers must be more diligent with documentation than before. This article will talk about the 9 essential documents for Project Management given a standard Project on hand.

General guidelines for good Project documentation are:

  • Documentation should be clear in conveying the data that the subscriber requires to understand.
  • Documentation should be relevant to what the context is about and must be crisp.
  • Information in the documentation must be updated at the time of writing.

We provide on-demand PMP Certification Online Training to help you stay up-to-date with the latest project management techniques. Whether it’s a 35-hour course or a live webinar, We have what you need for your career growth. Let us split the Project Management into 5 class process groups and identify the essential project documents.

  • Initiation
  • Planning
  • Execution
  • Monitor
  • Closure
5 classes of process groups

Now let us look at these essential documents for project management one by one.

Project Charter

A Project Charter is a formal, short project document (most of the cases) that describes the project in brief. The document includes the Project objectives, how they will be achieved, and who the impacted stakeholders are. It is an important input for Project Planning because it has the basic inputs to start with. A typical Project Charter consists of the following sections:

Project Charter
  • Project Goals and Objectives
  • A Project Constraints
  • Project Stakeholders (Initial)
  • High Level Risks
  • Project Benefits
  • Budget and milestones

Image: Microsoft

A Project Charter is typically one of the earliest artifacts to be created in the lifecycle of the Project.

It is advisable to have a project charter for each phase of a large multi-phased project. The initiating process group will build this during the project/phase kickoff procedure.

The starting process group’s two key tasks are to create a charter and identify stakeholders.

Defining your major goal will make it easier to plan and measure the success of your project. To make your project more achievable, consider breaking it down into smaller goals after you’ve defined your main goal.

Statement of work

The Statement of Work (SoW) is easily one of the most critical because it is typically brought into the picture at the start of a project and summarizes everything that needs to go. It is one of the first documents you will create to sketch the entire project landscape before you plan and start executing.

A typical Project Charter consists of the following sections:

Statement of work
  • Project Scope
  • Project Location (Onsite/Remote)
  • Milestones and Deliverables
  • Cost and Payment Schedule
  • Project Schedule
  • Success Criteria

Image: Microsoft

This is also an important project management artifact that outlines a project’s work requirements. It gives a high-level expectation on timelines, services delivered through the project, the activities involved, deliverables, and targeted budget. It also happens to be one of the first documents to be published in the lifecycle of a project and acts as a formal or informal contract, depending on how we choose.

Project Management Plan

It is a formally approved project document that is used to control the execution of the project. This documented plan the actions required to initiate, prepare, converge, and orchestrate the various planning activities. This document clearly defines how the project is executed, monitored controlled, and closed. A Project Management Plan has further subsidiary plans underneath it, like below:

Ideas for Project Management plan
  • Scope Management Plan
  • Requirements Management Plan
  • Cost Management Plan
  • Quality Management Plan
  • HR Management Plan
  • Communication Management Plan
  • Stakeholder Management Plan
  • Risk Management Plan

Image: Microsoft

The primary purpose of this Project document is to provide a comprehensive plan of what objectives have to be achieved through the project, action items to solve it, means to measure and report the project, how the information will be communicated, and importantly, who will be targeted.

Risk Register Document

We will need a risk register to identify, log, and track potential project risks. Any event or an activity that can positively or negatively affect your Project can be called a Risk. A risk register is nothing but a collection of project risks that allows you to track each identified risk and any important attributes about it. Almost for all the projects, creating and maintaining the risk register is given to the project manager.

In company risk logs, all potential risks on a project are noted, and the financial or time cost of an event is multiplied by the likelihood of the risk occurring to determine a projected cost for each. A risk record for your project might assist you in keeping note of significant developments for future reference.

Following a consistent logging format, such as Issue name or ID, description, impact, probability, proposed mitigation, and owner or person accountable, is a good practice.

Standard data attributes you can find in a Risk Register are:

  • Risk Description
  • Risk Category (Internal/External etc,)
  • Probability (Likelihood of occurrence)
  • Impact
  • Priority
  • Action/Response (Mitigate or Avoid)
  • Assignee

Image: Microsoft

Your Project would need a risk register as projects get larger, longer, and more complex; it will be more difficult to keep on top of uncertainties in the Project. If risks are not on track, at the central location and reviewed regularly, that would impact the Project commitments.

Project Schedule

A project scheduling document lays out a project’s timetables, including general target dates and task completion schedules. A project timeline also helps personnel, management, and stakeholders understand what to expect. Individuals and teams working on the project can use a schedule document as a reference to plan their work and ensure that all deadlines are met.

EV Analysis

Earned Value Analysis (EVA) is a method in project management for monitoring and controlling purposes. It helps in measuring project progress. The EV analysis compares the actual work completed at a given time with the original baselined budget and schedule of the Project. The EV analysis also forecasts the final budget and schedule by the time the project ends. It gives you the critical early warning signal that things are deviating from the plan. These are some steps to performing earned value analysis effectively:

EV Analysis
  • Determine the percent complete of each task.
  • To Determine Planned Value (PV)
  • Determine Earned Value (EV)
  • Obtain Actual Cost (AC)
  • Calculate Schedule Variance (SV)
  • Calculate Cost Variance (CV)

Image: Microsoft

Since The purpose of the earned value analysis is to support and facilitate the control cost process. The outcome of the EV Analysis is for Earned Value Management (EVM), which is done in order to analyze variances and forecasts based on the results of EV Analysis. Hence Earned Value Management is a technique for evaluating project performance rationally and, the EVM technique primarily deals with the measurement of Costs, Project Schedule, and Project scope by comparing that against the project’s baseline.


A Gantt chart happens to be a progress-based chart that provides a rational view of project tasks scheduled over the Project timeline. It helps in project planning and is a useful way of showing what work schedule at a specific time. It helps project managers and team members view the project timeline’s beginning dates, end dates, and important milestones in a simple set of stacked bars.

GANNT Chart Paper
  • Timeline of the project.
  • List of Project Tasks.
  • Resources assigned to each task.
  • Timeline of each task.
  • Duration of each task.
  • How tasks group together and overlap.
  • Task dependencies and milestones.

Image: Microsoft

It is a project management report which helps in the planning and scheduling of projects. The Project schedule and planned tasks are helpful as a stack of horizontal bars spanning the respective timeline.

RACI Matrix

Delegation of responsibility is essential for any project to run effectively. You must allocate team members to each assignment and ensure that they are all aware of their responsibilities. The RACI Matrix comes into play in this situation.

The Responsibility Assignment Model is known as the RACI Matrix. The term RACI stands for R-Responsible, and it’s pronounced “RACEY.”

The four duties assigned to team members are





To make efficient use of RACI, you’ll need:

One person is responsible for each duty. It’s like having numerous people operating a car if you have more than one. It’s not going to work! It will be difficult to get the car moving forward if there is no driver – no decisions or actions have been taken on the project.

The ideal number of Responsibles. When there are too many individuals working on the same project, it’s a great way to squander time. It’s also possible that you’ll receive duplicate work. If the task is simple and short, the responsible may also be accountable.

Lessons Learned

The process of fulfilling all tasks and terms that were listed as deliverable and outstanding at the contract’s initial writing is known as contract closure. This only applies to tasks that are outsourced.

It is a project document to store knowledge obtained during a project so that it requires in the current project and for future projects.

Officially scheduled “lessons learned” sessions are normally held during the close project phase, near the completion of the project. But lessons learned may be documented and recorded at any time during the project’s life cycle. That will be a better practice.

Lessons Learned management involves five steps:

Lessons Learned in PMP
  • Identify
  • Document
  • Analyse
  • Store
  • Retrieve

Image: Microsoft


Project documentation is an important part of managing Projects. Maintaining relevant project documentation is without a doubt a required element in Project Management. It is also very useful in keeping projects moving at a regular pace. Hence it ensures that stakeholders are up to date with the latest information. This, in turn, helps the organization in delivering more efficiently for future projects.

Select the documents that your project needs based on your project. Keep in mind that this is merely a suggestion. Use the essential project documents to get the most out of your project.

Do you require a comprehensive stakeholder management strategy? Then build one! You don’t need to set up an external procurement if one already exists. Leave it empty!

Don’t get too caught up in what you think you need. Use the information above as a general reference to what most tasks necessitate. Spend less time on administrative tasks.

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