For any project managers, organisation is of paramount importance, and there are a number of documents that you will need throughout every project to assist you with this. After all, you will not be able to guide and execute projects effectively if you don’t have any reports or documents to refer to. So, with that in mind, read on to discover some vital documents that all project managers need.

1. Project charter – The first thing your business needs to have for any project is a charter. This is a document that provides project identification, i.e. a formal authorisation for the project. It will contain a statement of work, which will reference the strategic plan, product or service scope, and the business need. It will also refer to organisational process assets, enterprise environmental factors, any required agreements for defining the project’s intent or goals, and the business case for the project.

2. Project management plan – You were probably expecting this to be on the list. After all, all project management courses teach us how vital it is to have a solid plan. This will cover all of the following: project updates, stakeholders, project scope, schedules, risks, business requirements, quality of deliverables, process improvements, procurement, human resources, costs and communications.

3. WBS – WBS stands for work breakdown structure. This is a critical document that decomposes the project. It identifies every bit of work that needs to be carried out. Breaking all elements down into small units is essential for keeping everyone on the same page and on track.

4. Risk management plan – One of the biggest mistakes any project manager can make is ignoring risk management. You need to identify all potential risks before a project begins, and you need to put plans together to deal with them. Make sure that all of the correct people are involved when putting together a risk management plan. You may also need to maintain health and compliance records. For example, for police officers doing oral drug test procedures and such like, stringent record keeping is a legal must.

5. Progress reports – You need to stay on track with how everything is doing, and you need to keep all of your stakeholders up-to-date as well. This is where project reports come in. You can make sure all those who are impacted know if the project is currently on budget and on time.

6. Change request log – Last but not least, this is a key document that can save a huge amount of upset and frustration for stakeholders, sponsors, teams, and project managers. It identifies any change that has been requested. It will state who requested the change, and who authorised the change to be enacted. The importance of this cannot be underestimated when you consider that a change to the project can alter the entire scope.

So there you have it: six of the most important documents that all project managers need to use throughout the lifecycle of any type of project.