Essential Role of Documentation in IT Project Management with Third-Party Vendors

Prateek Sharma
3 min readMay 3, 2024
Photo by rivage on Unsplash

I’ve been involved in several projects where I’ve played a crucial role in guiding my team on how to implement systems. In many cases, we’ve enlisted the help of IT vendors to carry out the implementation. Essentially, I’ve been instrumental in overseeing the implementation of these systems, especially when third-party IT vendors are involved.

One significant issue is the tendency to view documentation as a low priority, often delaying it until later stages of a project. Sometimes, documentation isn’t regarded as essential for the project’s progress. There’s a common attitude among IT vendors or consultants to promise documentation at a later stage, prioritizing the project rollout first. However, this approach creates problems because documentation is actually crucial for the project’s success.

It’s crucial to document each and every activity you undertake within a project. If your project is divided into various stages or gates, it’s essential to ensure that you have documentation prepared for every checkpoint along the way. Whether it involves configuration, implementation, or any related tasks, documentation should be comprehensive. This approach allows you to have a clear understanding of what has been accomplished and what remains to be done. By documenting each step, you gain insight into the progress made, the configurations applied, and the goals achieved, facilitating future planning and decision-making.

It’s crucial, especially when you’re relying on a third-party vendor to implement your IT systems entirely, that they provide thorough documentation. If the vendor fails to prepare documentation and you decide not to continue their services in the future, you’re left at their mercy. Whether you engage their services for a few months or longer, you may not have a lifelong partnership with them. In such cases, if there’s no documentation, including configuration details or user manuals, you’ll face difficulties in managing the systems independently. Therefore, it’s imperative that whenever you engage with a third-party IT vendor or consultant, you ensure that comprehensive documentation is prepared.

To address this issue, you can incorporate specific requirements into the agreement with the third-party IT vendor or consultant. You can stipulate that payment is contingent upon the fulfillment of certain deliverables. For example, one requirement could be the successful implementation of the project. Additionally, another crucial requirement would be the preparation and provision of comprehensive documentation. By outlining these expectations in the agreement, you ensure that the vendor understands the importance of delivering not only the project but also the accompanying documentation. This approach holds the vendor accountable and mitigates the risk of being left without essential documentation in the future.

Absolutely, training is another critical component that should be included in the documentation approach. It’s essential that all configurations are thoroughly documented and that training sessions are provided as part of the agreement with the third-party vendor or consultant. In the world of project management, there’s a famous saying: “If you can’t prove you did it, you didn’t do it.” This underscores the importance of comprehensive documentation in validating the completion of tasks and processes. Therefore, it’s imperative to clearly outline in the agreement how documentation will be handled and what steps will be taken to ensure it’s done effectively, including training provisions. By doing so, you establish clear expectations and accountability for all parties involved.

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Prateek Sharma

A lifelong learner with keen interest in tech automation, finance & economics.