Project planning: the 8 essential documents

Project planning: the 8 essential documents

The Prehistory ends when the writing system was invented. That’s what we have to learn with the History. No line decided by your team will survive if the strategies and tactics of your projects are not documented. Well then, what’s your plan? A project planning with its phases explained in writing is the condition for deadlines not to be missed and the budget, overrun. It’s also the only way to keep the quality of deliveries and, above all, the team motivation. However, among all the documents, what’s bureaucracy and what’s necessary? To facilitate your search, I listed eight essential documents to guide a successful project. For sure, you can adapt this list, according to the size and complexity of the project and to what your customer requires.


1. Project Charter

It formally recognizes the project creation and may be a formal contract or commercial agreement. The charter gathers aspects related to the Contracting and the Contracted, e.g.:

• The project name, overall goals, the needs it serves;
• A brief description;
• A feasibility study;
• Project products (files, lectures, training manuals, support, monitoring post-release);
• Intermediate products (delivered at the end of each stage, such as reports, updated schedules, results of tests and surveys, third parties budget, presentations);
• Sponsor, manager responsible and key employees (hired, outsourced, allocated from one department to another, employees under exclusive dedication or part of time);
• Steps defined by the delivery of the products produced;
• Deadlines (preliminary schedule or timeline with a description of the major processes);
• Resources required (preliminary budget, with values scaled by steps);
• Restrictions on use of information;
• Procedures required in case of change of scope;
• Procedures required for approval of the products of each step;
• Additional services.

2. Project management plan

Used as a reference index, encompassing all planning and project documents.

3. Project scope plan

It documents the project objectives and its scope to facilitate dealing with the changes that arise in the course. Take note: the scope is a kind of briefing, script of the activities, already agreed, needed to meet the project objectives. It should be a document easy to understand, so that all stakeholders are aligned.

4. Project schedule plan

It’s the set of the project phases, month by month, with its prominent tasks, the status of each one (e.g., done, doing, ongoing, or to do) and with the start and expiration dates of the contract. It’s the document most project stakeholders will see or want to see.

5. Project team plan

It provides a “who-is-doing-what” view of the project. This document fosters efficient project execution and shall make the team communication as transparent as possible.

6. Project work plan

This keeps track of the activities, work packages, resources, durations, costs, milestones, project’s critical path, etc. It will be an essential document and work guideline for your core project team.

7. Quality assurance plan

It tracks the quality standards your project deliverables will have to align to. These may typically include product testing approach and tools, quality policies, quality checklists, deviations definitions, quality metrics, product defect severity grades, acceptance criteria and cost of poor quality.

8. Project risks plan

An important and one of the most underrated project planning document. It reports the project risks and their possible solutions, in addition to the opportunities and plans to exploit them to the fullest as soon as they arise.


Keeping all this documents updated may be very hard if you have to write down and check everything by hand, assembling and combining spreadsheets. Instead, automate all the company’s workflow and perform a great project planning with The best task, time and team management software. Try it for free:


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