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Know the Five Steps in a Document Life Cycle

April 10 2017

Know the Five Steps
in a Document Life Cycle

Document management is a part of communication management. It is important for the project manager to recognize the stages that a document must go through from creation to completion. This knowledge allows the project manager to understand the overall status of a document at any given time and helps ensure adequate time is allocated for the completion of the document. For instance, when a team member says they can complete a document in two weeks, are they saying that the document will be ready to circulate in two weeks or that the document will be completed and totally approved in two weeks? Not all documents need to go through all the stages of document creation and approval. However, depending on the document, one or more of the steps will be required.

Plan the document

Sometimes you can sit down and immediately start writing your document. Other times you need to think, prepare and plan first. This is especially true as your document gets larger and more complex. Preparation and planning, which includes outlining the content and structuring the sections, will help you get started.

Create the initial document draft

In this step, the document draft is created. If there are no subsequent reviews and approvals, this step results in the creation of the final deliverable. Most of the effort associated with the document is used in this step. Subsequent steps may take a long duration, but they do not take nearly as much effort.

Circulate document for feedback
odify as appropriate

These two steps involve circulating the document for initial review and feedback. The document is updated based on the review comments. Depending on the particular document, this may be an iterative step. A document may have an internal review, followed by a stakeholder review, followed by a management review. After each of these reviews, the document is subsequently modified based in the feedback and sent to the next step.

Gain document approval

When the document has been circulated for feedback and subsequently updated, it will be ready for final approval. Some documents should be formally approved in writing. Others are simply considered complete after the final round of feedback is received.

Like all completed deliverables there may be subsequent updates or enhancements that may require their own mini-document life cycle as well.