Document management is a process for managing how you plan, store and retrieve documents on a project. Managing documentation is usually a part of the broader communication management process. Most projects don’t need to worry about formal document management processes. However, if your project produces a lot of documents you should think ahead of time about how you will store them so that they are easy to find later.
Of course you should think about naming standards, directory structure and common document formats. In addition, large projects should also consider the following.
Assign a document librarian
The responsibilities of the librarian are as follows:
- Coordinate activity that is related to the document repository
- Establish, maintain, and enforce document repository standards and monitor them for conformance
- Identify and resolve repository problems
- Monitor and control access and updates to the repository
This does not have to be a full-time position. It could be a role that only requires 10% of one person’s time. However, if your project generates a lot of documents you may need some one to focus on this area.
Define access rules
The access rules describe items such as who can review documents and who can update them. Most documents should be accessible for the entire team to read. Some documents may need to be more secure. However, you should also be clear on the documents that team members can access and update.
Define repository update procedures
All team members will need full access to their own documents. However, the project manager needs to decide whether anyone can make updates to other team member’s documents as well. For instance, some documents might be open for anyone to update. Others need to be locked down to prevent updating without proper authority.
Determine retention and purging timeframes
Purging old documents ensures that the information on the repository is relevant. For instance, weekly individual Status Reports may not be needed after three months. On the other hand, the Project Charter document is needed for the life of the project.
Hold periodic repository review
If your document repository is very complicated, it may make sense to perform a periodic review of the repository and the overall document management processes. The librarian will be responsible for coordinating this review.
Thinking up front about document management on large projects will save you time and hassle throughout the project as you produce more and more documentation.