The documentation of design decisions in engineering projects: A study in infrastructure development

Tara Kinneging, Sander Siebelink, Robin de Graaf, Tim van Dijck

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6 Citations (Scopus)
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In most design projects, the documentation of design decisions is considered important. Among others, documentation of design decisions contributes to the traceability of decisions that shape a project’s development process, helps deal with changes in the project and prevents the recurrence of old discussions. Yet, little attention is given to documenting design decisions in civil engineering literature. In this study, a theoretical framework for the key elements of this documentation process was developed. Four road infrastructure projects were studied and compared to this framework by means of pattern matching. This method compares theoretical and empirical patterns and determines whether they match or do not match. The findings demonstrate that accessibility of documentation for all involved project parties and division of documentation tasks are in accordance with literature. However, the documentation of design decisions and their rationale is not done as completely as is recommended in theory. Literature states that the documentation of interrelations and context of decisions should be described thoroughly, but that is barely done in practice. In addition, the findings show that neither immediate documentation, nor periodical monitoring of documentation is applied. Based on these findings, this research proposes a strategy for improving the documentation of design decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-64
Number of pages21
JournalInternational journal of information systems and project management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • Civil engineering
  • Design decision
  • Documentation strategy
  • Information systems
  • Infrastructure
  • Project management

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