Project documentation template

Looking for documents is a giant time waster for most people—which is where a project documentation process comes in. Learn how to create a project documentation template so that you always know where documents live—for every project, on any team, company-wide.

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Endlessly searching for documents is more than annoying—it also impacts your focus time. In fact, searching for information is a key contributor to work about work, which takes up almost 60% of an employee’s time every day. But what happens when you’re working cross-functionally, with teams and projects you aren’t familiar with? Sourcing and organizing all the documents you need to work effectively across teams and departments is critical—but it doesn’t have to be time-consuming.

That’s where a project documentation template comes in. Using a project documentation template ensures that everyone uses the same project documentation process company-wide, so you always know where to find vital documents (regardless of who’s making them).

What is a project documentation template?

A project documentation template is a saved outline for your project documentation process—the process for how you create and where you save project documents. You can customize your template so it lists all the documents that need to be created and located before every new project. This keeps all your information organized in one, central location, so it’s easy for stakeholders to access. 

Do you need a project documentation template?

Short answer—yes, especially if you coordinate work across multiple teams. When you launch a project, you usually connect with many different teams to source and create project documents. For example, you might create a change request form for the product team or work with the marketing team to develop a project communication plan. But when each team has their own way of documenting information, it can be hard to find and collect project knowledge.

At a minimum, this is confusing. But it can also be downright disruptive, causing delayed and unnecessary stress when team members are endlessly searching for information. That’s where a project documentation template comes in—everyone in your company can use the same process to find, sort, and house all relevant documents in one central source of truth. When a team member uses the template, it serves as a reminder—these are documents I need to create and include, and this is where they should live. 

Boosting cross-functional collaboration at work

A project documentation template is the first step in disrupting the container model and breaking workplace silos. The container model—a data model in which work can only live in one place—limits teams by forcing every task, project, and folder to live within a one-to-one relationship. But when you use your project documentation template alongside other project management templates, you can improve your business processes to foster cross-functional collaboration. That’s why we created the Asana Work Graph® data model—a system where all your work has the ability to connect to many different relationships at once.

What is the Work Graph®?

The Asana Work Graph® is a way to capture the relationship between the work your team does, the information about that work, and the people doing the work. Essentially, it’s a way to understand how all of the pieces of your work fit together, connecting the what, why, and who of work. 

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How to use a project documentation template in project management

To effectively oversee your project documentation process, you need to customize it so it fits your company’s needs. You can specify exactly what documents should be created, structure it in an easy to understand way, and get feedback from team members on how to make the template work best for them. In addition, these best practices can help you get the most benefit from your template:

  1. Don’t reinvent the wheel. If you already have a successful project document process, base your template off your current workflow. Keep track of the documents you reference throughout the project’s lifecycle—everything from the project planning phase through your final project status report. Then include these in your template. For example, you might want to add your project proposal, project goals, project closure reports, and final metrics to your template. 

  2. Refine and lock-in your process. One of the most useful parts of your template is how it fosters cross-functional collaboration. Get feedback from other teams and departments so that you can use one, consistent template that works for many different groups. Once you’ve established the key steps of your most successful project documentation process, save it as a template.

  3. Use a collaborative tool. With a work management tool, you can sync and streamline every step of your project documentation workflow. By storing everything in one place, you can reduce app switching—which is critical, since the average worker switches between 10 apps 25 times a day. Plus, it’s easier to share information—project stakeholders can view your project documentation process with a simple link to your template.

What to include in your project documentation template

Your project documentation template should be customized to your needs, but here are some useful sections to include as you get started:

  • ​​Document description: Include the document's purpose and business case

  • Location: Link to the document’s location

  • Deliverables: Associated deliverables and dependencies

  • Supporting initiatives: Connect to all objectives the document supports

  • Assignee: An assigned team member responsible for each document

Examples of documents you can attach to your template:

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Integrated features

  • List View. List View is a grid-style view that makes it easy to see all of your project’s information at a glance. Like a to-do list or a spreadsheet, List View displays all of your tasks at once so you can not only see task titles and due dates, but also view any relevant custom fields like Priority, Status, or more. Unlock effortless collaboration by giving your entire team visibility into who’s doing what by when.

  • Board View. Board View is a Kanban board-style view that displays your project’s information in columns. Columns are typically organized by work status (like To Do, Doing, and Done) but you can adjust column titles depending on your project needs. Within each column, tasks are displayed as cards, with a variety of associated information including task title, due date, and custom fields. Track work as it moves through stages and get at-a-glance insight into where your project stands.

  • Custom fields. Custom fields are the best way to tag, sort, and filter work. Create unique custom fields for any information you need to track—from priority and status to email or phone number. Use custom fields to sort and schedule your to-dos so you know what to work on first. Plus, share custom fields across tasks and projects to ensure consistency across your organization. 

  • Adding tasks to multiple projects. The nature of work is cross-functional. Teams need to be able to work effectively across departments. But if each department has their own filing system, work gets stalled and siloed. Asana makes it easy to track and manage tasks across multiple projects. This doesn't just reduce duplicative work and increase cross-team visibility. It also helps your team see tasks in context, view who’s working on what, and keep your team and tasks connected.

Recommended apps

  • Dropbox. Attach files directly to tasks in Asana with the Dropbox file chooser, which is built into the Asana task pane.

  • Google Workplace. Attach files directly to tasks in Asana with the Google Workplace file chooser, which is built into the Asana task pane. Easily attach any My Drive file with just a few clicks.

  • OneDrive. Attach files directly to tasks in Asana with the Microsoft OneDrive file chooser, which is built into the Asana task pane. Easily attach files from Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and more.

  • Gmail. With the Asana for Gmail integration, you can create Asana tasks directly from your Gmail inbox. Any tasks you create from Gmail will automatically include the context from your email, so you never miss a beat. Need to refer to an Asana task while composing an email? Instead of opening Asana, use the Asana for Gmail add-on to simply search for that task directly from your Gmail inbox. 

FAQs

What is a project documentation template?

A project documentation template is a saved outline of your project documentation process. The template is usually structured to include the document’s description and use case, its location, and the person in charge of managing that document. This makes it clear to stakeholders what each document is, and who to go to with questions.

Do I need a project documentation template?

Yes! Project documentation templates help foster team collaboration by making it easier to coordinate cross-functional work. By using one template across teams and departments, you can help make the project documentation process consistent company-wide. This will help everyone to work together more efficiently. 

What should a project documentation template contain?

Your project documentation template should contain the key elements of your project documentation process. Usually, this is set up in sections for the document’s description, location, assigned team members, and associated initiatives.

What are three levels of project documentation?

The project documentation process usually contains a beginning or planning, execution, and post-completion phase. You can structure your project documentation template around these phases, breaking your documents into the different phases so they’re easier to find.

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