Running a project is a bit like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle — you have to create an overall plan, design a roadmap, establish timelines and assemble all the pieces. You might also face some challenges and lose direction at times.
But with effective project documentation guiding your team, you’re all set to complete the project on time and hit all the goals.
Here’s a handy list of nine must-have project documentation examples to show you how it’s done. We’ll tell you what each document includes and a few best practices to create your own.
What is project documentation?
Project documentation refers to documents covering crucial information about a project, like budgets, goal-setting, performance tracking, risk management and more.
At its core, project documentation gives stakeholders all essential project details to maximize coordination, increase efficiency and cut down on confusion.
Project documentation benefits include (but aren’t limited to):
- Streamline project planning with clearly defined goals, deliverables and metrics.
- Capture crucial project knowledge to prevent mistakes and improve team alignment.
- Track progress and move forward in the right direction with greater accountability.
- Keep everyone on the same page and drive productivity for everyone involved.
- Encourage transparent communication and make every document easily accessible.
Think of project documentation as your secret weapon if you want to set up systems for repeatable success and hit all targets without hiccups.
9 project documentation examples to inspire yours
Whether you’re a rookie project manager heading your first big project or an experienced one with multiple projects under your name, project documentation examples always come in handy.
We’ve curated a list of nine examples of documentation in projects to help you hit the right spot for your next project.
1. Project charter
A project charter is the initial outline of a project. It’s the first step in any documentation framework.
The charter condenses all the planning into a preliminary scope and lists:
- Project goals.
Since this is the starting point of a project’s lifecycle, this document won’t include many finer details. It’s only a high-level overview.
Project charter example
Get this template here.
Here’s a project charter we made with Scribe Pages. This example neatly details different aspects of the project. It brackets all the info into different subsections and lets you add many details as required.
Its minimal design also makes it reader-friendly.
2. Project scope statement
A project scope is a more detailed version of the project charter. The scope creates an actionable roadmap for teams to achieve all goals and complete the deliverables within the deadlines.
At times, this document also highlights things that aren’t a part of the project. This extra section on “exclusions” helps in sticking to the original scope of work and avoiding additional work.
Project scope example
This scope statement for a copywriting project divides the project into three main tasks. Each task lists the deliverables and goals for the project.
While this one slide covers the most crucial part of the scope—the actual deliverables, the document also includes separate slides for timelines, milestones and overall project goals.
3. Work breakdown structure
A work breakdown structure (WBS) breaks down the project into smaller tasks and milestones. It divides the project into a list of goals or subtasks, further categorizing deliverables—like a hierarchical flowchart.
A WBS creates a step-by-step checklist of tasks to complete the project. It also helps in dividing responsibilities among the team.
Work breakdown structure example
This WBS example divides the project of planning a press conference into five main tasks. So, the internal stakeholders can create five teams for each task and finish the different steps outlined in this breakdown. It clearly defines the steps required to complete every aspect of the project.
4. Project management plan
A project management plan (PMP) presents a plan of action to start and finish the project. It includes actionable information to implement the project scope and complete all the deliverables. A PMP also sets ideal timelines for every task to keep the team on track.
You can use this document to delegate responsibilities to all teams involved in the project and establish milestones.
Project management plan example
This project management plan example lists all the main deliverables for the project. It also has the timelines to finish each deliverable with a week-wise deadline. By referencing this, anyone reading this PMP can check the deadlines for different tasks and track progress.
You can create a more detailed PMP document by including another column to designate every task to a specific team/role.
5. Project status report
A project status report documents how the project is panning out at different stages.
Every status report analyzes the progress on various fronts — milestones, tasks, costs and timelines. You can also mention any potential risks or blockers slowing the progress.
These reports bring transparency to what you’ve done and the action plan ahead. They are critical to analyzing the project's success in the end.
Project status report example
This project status report example covers everything in detail.
- It starts with a basic project summary and discusses overall project health.
- Then it breaks down the updates into different elements to highlight any critical concerns.
- Each task includes an owner with notes to explain the status update.
- The report also covers a milestone review with a list of risks and change requests.
6. Standard operating processes
SOPs help train employees to produce consistent outputs and prevent knowledge loss. These documents also boost employee productivity by making information much more accessible.
Standard operating procedure example
Just perform your task, then capture your screen. Scribe will auto-generate a fully customizable guide with screenshots, text, embedded links and more!
7. Risk and issues log
A risk and issues log documents any challenges or problems slowing the project's progress.
As everything unfolds, you'll face problems that can potentially derail the project if not addressed. This issue log records all the risks with priority levels and possible solutions.
Documenting these challenges gives you a hands-on understanding of your team’s capabilities. Use this understanding to improve planning for future projects.
Risk and issues log example
This risk and issues log example breaks down every risk into several details. It analyzes the risk’s impact and severity to decide if teams need to take immediate action.
The log also includes a section on potential solutions to resolve both the risk and the person managing it. This informs all stakeholders about the plan of action to tackle every issue.
8. Project budget tracker
A project budget tracker records all expenses to avoid budget overruns.
This tracker presents crucial insights into how and where teams are spending money. Documenting and analyzing costs can help make strategic decisions for the project's next phases.
Ideally, you should identify budget categories before starting the project and enter each expense into these categories.
You can also coordinate with the financial team to create a cost tracking system and record every expense accurately.
Project budget tracker example
This project budget tracker example mentions the overall budget for the project at the top, followed by different expenses.
Designed using monday.com, the tracker also assigns the owner of that expense along with the status and timelines to create a detailed record of every expense item.
A project closure document summarizes the entire project with a final result analysis.
This document decides the project’s success or failure depending on if you achieved or didn’t achieve the objectives.
On top of this analysis, the project closure document officially closes the project. Teams can share all the completed deliverables and avoid any future liabilities.
Project closure example
This project closure example includes essential details like the project name and manager.
It also records the close date to establish when the project ended. You can also analyze each objective and its outcomes to understand what worked and didn't.
Teams can have a final meeting to discuss the closure document and officially close the project!
5 tips to make your project documentation process airtight
Browsing these examples is a great way to learn how to write project documentation.
But… when you sit down to create one of these documents, you might not be sure where to start.
You’re not alone. We’ve prepared this list of project documentation best practices to help you ace the process.
1. Plan and start in advance
If you don’t start documenting the details at the right time, you’ll be working on the project without a clear direction.
Decide a timeline to prepare all necessary documents and ideally start a few days in advance to set everything up before the project is underway.
Make sure to record all stakeholder discussions and convert them into documents like a project charter, project scope and work breakdown structure. You can also designate the responsibility to a specific team member to maintain consistency.
2. Constantly interact with stakeholders
Regularly talking to external and internal stakeholders is another great way to produce effective project documentation. These discussions can reveal more nuanced details, like the expected timelines for each milestone, the priority levels for every deliverable and similar information.
Set up a weekly meeting with the stakeholders to discuss your progress and update these documents consistently to include any new information.
3. Create guidelines for review and approval
Without clear guidelines for creating project documentation, every team might come up with a different style and format for their documentation—a recipe for chaos.
To avoid confusion and streamline the process for everyone, create detailed guidelines for review and approval. The best way to enforce these guidelines is to assign someone the editing responsibility for checking every document against a set of quality benchmarks.
4. Choose a good documentation tool
While there are tens of documentation tools to make life easy for you and create reader-friendly documents, here’s the catch: not every tool can cater to your project documentation needs.
Most project documentation software are either too complicated to set up and use or don’t offer enough customization options. Some tools require too much effort to create and share a single document.
Thankfully, we can help you tackle all these challenges!
Scribe can automate your documentation process and produce interactive step-by-step guides in seconds. These guides are completely customizable, so you can pick an on-brand color palette, add videos or gifs and share it with the entire team.
You can also manage access rights for different roles in the team. The best part: Pages allows you to curate all the documentation in a single location.
5. Test and validate your documents
Drafting project documents is just the first step. You need to test the accuracy and utility of every document before rolling it out.
You can involve a few stakeholders to review the documents and list the main parameters to make this review constructive. This will bring critical points of feedback to make your documents fail-proof.
Project documentation has never been easier
Solid project documentation is the easiest way to bring your team on the same page and establish clear expectations. These documents also give them a reference frame to fall back on when they're in doubt.
Bookmark these project documentation examples to create actionable documents the next time you work on a project.