5 Steps to Take in a Document Life Cycle as Project Manager

Sunday, October 27, 2019, 6:00 AM | Leave Comment

Like many other things, document management should be an integral part of communication management. Some folks think that complete documentation wastes time.

On the contrary, documentation saves time for a long time to come. It’s up to the project manager to have the project documented in an organized fashion in his/her own way.

However, there are definitely some parts of the documentation that have to be a standard in all projects.

Document Life Cycle

It’s the project manager’s job to see to it that a document will go through some standard stages from creation to completion.

This know-how allows the project manager to understand the overall status of a document at any given time and helps ensure adequate time is allocated for the completion of the document.


There is a misconception that documentation starts when the project is finished. On the contrary, documentation starts when the project starts. The document is expanded as the project goes through its stages to completion. Documentation must be done at every step of the way of the project.

Depending on the document, the following 5 steps are taken in document life cycle by the project manager.

  1. Plan the document

    Like everything else in a project life cycle, you should plan the document. It’s true that sometimes you can sit down and immediately start writing your document if the project is very small and the customer wants some instructions. Other times you may need to think, prepare and plan first.

    You need to plan especially if the project is big and your document will surely get larger and more complex. Preparation and planning, which includes outlining the content and structuring the sections, will help you get started.

  2. Create the initial document draft

    As soon as the project starts – sometimes before – the document draft is created. If there are no subsequent reviews and approvals, this step results in the creation of the final document. The crust of the effort associated with the document is used in this step. Subsequent steps may take a long duration, but they do not take nearly as much effort. So creating the initial document draft is essentially the most important step in properly creating the final document.

  3. Circulate document for feedback

    Circulating the document for initial review and feedback is the second important step. The document is updated based on the review comments. Depending on the particular document, it may involve repeating this step and is often called an iterative step.

    The review of the document may be done internally by the team members, followed by a stakeholder review, followed by a management review.

  4. Modify document as appropriate

    After each of these reviews mentioned in the previous step, the document is subsequently updated based in the feedback and sent to the next step.

    Chances are that circulating and modifying may be done repeatedly till all the concerned parties are satisfied.

  5. Gain document approval

    When the document has been circulated for feedback and subsequently updated, it will be ready for final approval. All documents, whether small or big, must be formally approved in writing. You, as project manager, must see to it that all the stakeholders have signed it off.

In a Nutshell
Like all completed deliverable, there may be subsequent updates or enhancements that may require their own mini-document life cycle as well.

Documentation is extremely important. It can be as simple as these 5 steps or can be as elaborate as you want it to be. Of course, there are steps for storing the document with revision control and retrieving it for modification and printing the final version.

Courtesy of…

This column is © copyright to www.Method123.com and originally appeared in their weekly project management tip newsletter.

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