Proper documenting of objectives and deliverables in the form of artifacts leads to project success. Considering the wide range of artifacts available, we need to understand their differences and how their change affects our management plan.
Therefore, in this article, we will look at different project management artifacts which make the project process transparent and measurable. Let's start with the basics!
What are project artifacts?
Artifacts are documents linked to project management since project management needs to document deliverables and projects fully. These documents align projects to business goals, address your client and sponsor requirements, and set up your team members' expectations.
They are in some sense alive, which means artifacts are susceptible to change and are formally updated. They exist for a reason: to share information related to a project. An artifact is something you make, and as we said earlier, they are related to documents.
Teams produce these documents to support and define the work they are doing. On the other hand, artifacts can be referred to as deliverables, documents, and templates. However, it is essential to mention that artifacts are connected to project management, not the project's output. For example, a project closure document is an artifact, while a project deliverable is a new app.
Project artifacts in project management
We already explained what artifact means, but what is their role, how do they affect project management, and what is the project artifacts checklist? When you set up your project plan, you work with experts to figure out how to manage risks, communications, schedule, costs, and scope.
All these features establish the project baseline and ensure a common understanding of how the project will run. Early in the project, key stakeholders will sign and agree on this. Further on, project managers have the necessary authority to manage the project while reducing the risk of influential stakeholders imposing their will on the project.
However, if someone wants to change any baseline aspect, a modification request needs to be submitted and approved before the change. The documents that are subject to this are called artifacts. Keep in mind that project documents and artifacts aren't the same.
For instance, the project calendar might change every day if we deal with complex work, but our schedule remains the same. If we want to change the schedule, we must submit a change request that needs to be approved. Artifacts describe project documents, but they aren't artifacts themselves.
Types of artifacts in project management
As we previously explained, an artifact results from some other project management tactic or a method. We can differentiate nine types of artifacts in project management.
This is the first category of documents, and it's closely related to project initiation and strategy. It's an open list and includes a business case, project vision statement, project charter, and a road map.
Keep in mind that these documents are drafted at the start of the project, and they aren't susceptible to any change; they usually stay the same. This stage is focused on high-level strategy stuff, and it isn't something you will need to change once it's set.
Logs and registers
As the name implies, this category involves various project management logs and registers, which are part of your daily management process. For instance, they include stakeholder register—backlog, risk register, assumption log, etc.
These documents aren't set in place and are continuously updated throughout the project.
The next category involves different plans, like logistic plans, quality plans, test plans, scope management plans, etc. These plans are developed to help you navigate through the project and be in one or separate documents.
Plans can be written or in the form of diagrams.
Next, we have hierarchy charts that describe the relationship between various parts within the project, like risk breakdown structure, organizational breakdown structure, product, and work structure.
Be aware that your project might require different versions of these and that you might not need all of them.
Baselines are important for the project, and they represent approved versions of whatever plan they are linked to. Some examples of baselines include performance measurement baseline, scope baseline, milestone schedule, and budget.
Baselines are regularly updated throughout the project.
This category includes all information that is not written in a traditional sense. The list of visual data your project may involve is S-curve, velocity chart, Gantt chart, flow chart, dashboard, and cycle time chart.
Having these visual data sources will make it easier for you to understand information.
In project management, you will have to deal with many reports, and typically produced reports are a formal record for particular stakeholders, status, risk, and quality reports.
Contracts and agreements
If you aren't buying anything, then you aren't required to have contracts and agreements. But you could compose an internal agreement with other departments if you have staff on secondment.
Contacts and agreements can be in the form of any legally binding agreement, time and materials contract, cost-reimbursable and fixed-price contract, and finally, MOU or memorandum of understanding.
Last but not least, we have a list of artifacts that don't fit any category we mentioned above. For example, we have bid documents, user stories, team charters, and requirements.
Project management artifacts by phase
The following artifacts are recommended or highly required for each project management phase:
Originating. In this phase, we only have a project proposal, which includes strategic math, an estimate of recourse and schedules, an impact on not doing work, different alternatives, a business case, and a description of work.
Initiating. For the required part, we have a project charter that defines the number of crucial project elements like responsibilities, scope definition, and a project description. When it comes to highly recommended artifacts, one of them is an impactful PowerPoint presentation that you can use to review chief sections of the communication plan and project charter during the kickoff meeting.
Planning. In planning, we again have two aspects, required and highly recommended. A communication plan falls into the required category since it's developed early in the project and defines how the team will communicate crucial information during the project. Let's not forget about the project schedule and WBS or a Work Breakdown Structure. This is a hierarchical organization of high-level activities you have to complete before you can end the project. On the other hand, the project schedule includes budget, participants, milestones, deliverables, etc. A highly recommended aspect of the planning phase is an analysis worksheet that includes project stakeholders. Project management uses this sheet to assess before completing the communication plan.
Controlling, monitoring, and executing. The tracking project workbook is an important part of this phase. For instance, you can use SharePoint list, Excel workbook, or other similar spreadsheet tools for tracking project action.
Project status. It is used to notify executives and stakeholders about project status.
Closing. In the final stage, we have a transition plan that helps transition project products and open transition tasks to the suitable support team, owners, and service managers.