Documentation Management Tutorial

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What is Document Management?

Documentation Management (DM) is the task of establishing a process and procedure to create, maintain and change all applicable documents related to a project. Applicable documents will vary widely but in summary they are related to hardware, software, training, firmware, drawings, requirements, specifications and supporting documentation such as management plans, contract agreements and production outlines.

For the purpose of this presentation, DM will be broken into three parts:

  1. The Document Management Process
  2. Management of Documents (creation, maintenance and changes)
  3. The Documentation Management System


Documentation Management Categories

Project documentation is the product of particular work breakdown structure (WBS) tasks. There are two fundamental categories of project documentation: baselines and archives. Each category contains information about both the product system and the producing system.

  • The baseline, once established, contains information describing the current state of the product system and producing system resulting from all decisions that have been made. The baseline is usually organized as a collection of hierarchical tree structures, and should exhibit a significant amount of cross-reference linking.
  • The archives contain all of the rest of the project‘s information that is worth remembering, even if only temporarily. The archives should contain all assumptions, data, and supporting analyses that are relevant to past, present, and future decisions. Inevitably, the structure (and control) of the archives is much looser than that of the baseline, though cross references should be maintained where feasible.

Documentation Management Systems

The Document Management System provides the controlaccess, and archiving of documents. This system can be paper or electronic and is a critical key in the configuration management of a project’s documents. Creation, implementation, and the feedback loop of this system will be defined in the project’s configuration management plan. If the project manager chooses to establish a documentation management plan that is separate from the overall configuration management plan, then the information on the document management system will reside there instead.

These systems may be elaborate enterprise wide systems, or may be as simple as storing documentation on a server with access controls in place for the documents.

The extent to which a system will be incorporated will depend on several factors such as:

  • Criticality of the project
  • Scope of the project
  • Budget set aside for this WBS task
  • Schedule of the project


Proper documentation reduces the risk of mission failure as it provides the means to properly audit the system before “selling-off” or proceeding through a material release of the system. Proper documentation also reduces subsequent production costs. If all documentation is in place, producing similar units require minimal changes. Documentation is the paper trail of your project, and contains all the data involved from the statement of work (SOW) to the initial concept to development to production and support.

DM is a critical factor in ensuring mission success of a system and future replication.