Patrick Gill Keeping Documentation Straight – The Why

June 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Raise your hand. How many of your companies boast an all-star genius? The consummate problem solver who knows your business inside and out? This person gets the frantic phone calls and priority emails begging for an answer to a question that no one else knows. Without much thought, effort, or even Google, this person rattles the answer, recites the code to type, pushes the appropriate button, etc. and resumes work.
Perspective is everything. There are certain things some find obvious that another person might view differently—or miss entirely. Sometimes people think and view things similarly, but when considering your company’s operations it’s better to err on the side of safety.

In IT, we preach documentation. Should one of your workers get hit by a bus, all of their knowledge should be documented to ensure seamless operation. Often there are seemingly small lynchpins in an otherwise mundane set of instructions that only a few people or (gasp!) even just one person, holds only in their brain. But this practice should be avoided because that lynchpin could cause entire processes to crumble, leaving the company in a world of hurt due to a lack of proper documentation.

Documentation

Every employee’s knowledge is valuable to a company. At every level of an organization, there is some amount of knowledge that if lost would cause some serious discomfort within the organization. Organizations often see this when employees leave the organization or transition to another department or position.

At Data Cave, when we say team, we really mean it! We all work together for our common goals and respect everyone’s knowledge. In fact, we respect each other’s knowledge so much we’ve taken an active approach to documentation and making documentation available. We’ve recognized this as a key to our ongoing success.

We keep the knowledge of our entire team, our network, our processes, and our facilities information in a common documentation area and we tangibly feel the benefits.
• Mistakes aren’t repeated
• Efficiency through reduced planning
• Enhanced internal communication
• Evenly distributed workloads
• Not reliant upon a single person’s expertise or experience
• Scalability
• 24/7 Accessibility

We have found mistakes are no longer repeated, as solutions are documented and information is more available. We’ve experienced increased efficiency because projects and processes require less planning. Our communication has improved with the transparent availability of information. Workloads are more appropriately distributed as knowledge is shared—no longer do we rely on one person to implement or provide answers. It provides scalability as we continue to grow. And finally, the information is always accessible, unlike its human counterparts.

“But when you have a ton of documentation, how do you keep it all straight?” you ask. We use a few tools to help us with all of this that are very interesting and starting to flesh out more and more each iteration. What are those you ask? Well, they just happen to deserve their own blog entry…so stay tuned!

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