A Guide to Documentation
Maintaining documentation is a much-required necessity today in the handling of tasks, projects, and campaigns in any organisation. No matter how big or small the project is, documentation assists users through the project by providing clarity, information, and perspective.
No doubt, preparing a documentation is an asset. Let’s dwell on the aspect of documentation for projects and understand the nuances of making one.
Highlighting the Benefits of Documentation
The whole fundamental of documentation revolves around the importance it embarks on a team, project, and organisation as a whole for utilizing company resources efficiently. Documentation ensures every step we follow is viable, profitable and risk-averse.
It is for everyone to use, in context, to bring collaborative efforts in the right direction. Thus, channelizing towards productivity.
Key benefits are:
Impacts high worth: A company which follows documentation as a mandatory process
has a better standing vis-a-vis a company that does not. Documentation brings with i
some form of standardization, and is looked upon as an important asset to support any
company’s growth and valuation in the market.
Understanding of the project: A great document is the one which gives full information
about the project. This detailed report is a great boon for anyone new to the
project, in saving time and efforts.
Enables in Team Collaboration: Documentation brings together all information about a
particular project or task on a leveled ground, thus enabling team collaboration and minimizing any doubts in anyone’s mind.
Encourages Self Training: With documentation, the training needs go down. Saves time.
Parameters to Documentation
Couple of things one must keep in mind, before moving into documentation. These are:
Type of Audience
Foremost, ask yourself who will be benefiting from the document you prepare. What will the level of knowledge or understanding the person will have in order to interpret correctly and use the document in the best possible manner?
Accordingly, the document should be formulated with the right use of terminologies and glossary, supportive data.
Type of Information
Information that will be supposed to add in the document should be appropriate, useful and, the most important, it should be correct.
Sometimes, we need to add information that may not be directly related to the topic but yet essential to make the other content fathomable. Such information can be added in the preface of the document.
Type of Structure
Structure of a document or format of the document is crucial the documentation process. Ideally, it should be consistent, as far as possible, throughout all similar category of projects or activities.
However, the structure depends on many varying factors, like:
• Purpose: The purpose of a document directly affects its structure, for instance,
if a document like a User Manual aims to provide basic-working information of any appliances – Refrigerator, Microwave, and Remote Control Device, then the document structure will be very different from that of a document on a High-level product design which has to do with highly technical information of those appliances.
• User: A user of the document determines the type of structure in terms of – means, content, and placement of some sections like Vocabulary, Reference Terms to name a few.
• Content: The content of a document says a lot about the type of structure, as in is the information for awareness, use, trouble shooting, promotional in nature. Segmenting information under relevant heads like “What”, “Why” and “How” with further information detailing specific technology.
If the content is related to the process, then all phases of that process along with its benefits with definitions and, usage will be explored in the documentation.
Tips in Documentation
Documentation process involves getting familiar with all aspects of it and only then begin the actual process of preparing one, in order to get a useful and practical document.
Some aspects are:
Selecting a Format
To achieve the best in the documentation, here are some tips for you:
Keep it Simple
Simplicity is the key to any documentation process. The more simple, the better to comprehend the same.
Use of Index or Table of Content is advisable, to help the user of the document be able to navigate through the document without any problem. Headers and Footer, Page Numbers are some other important components not to be missed.
Relevant and Important Information First
Taking topics that are relevant, important or extensive in nature first, can help users understand the document well. Somewhere, it also lends confidence in preparing the document, when we address topics which are our strengths in the beginning.
Research is an indispensable part of any documentation. Without research, facts and supporting data, the document is not really credible and may bring some doubt in mind.
A well-researched document is not only well praised but certainly more trusted in any given situation. Quality matters, so provide factually correct and complete information.
Consistency helps in better readability. It is a more professional way of presentation and, followed across corporates small or big world-over. It enhances aesthetics of the document and, makes it more user-friendly.
The consistency of document refers to the font styles, heading formats, tone, flow, margins etc. In general, it is to do with the look and feel of the document. A haphazard document is not something anyone would like to see or use, isn’t it?
Chose not more than 2-3 font types in the whole document, or more than two colours of ink to text the information are some widely accepted norms.
A document is a piece of art that needs good presentation, clarity, proper form and shape. It is also scientific in nature as it is well supported by research, facts, and figures.
If every developer or project manager believes in documenting their experience and knowledge to enhance productivity, improve efficiency and better collaboration then one must do so, for benefit of internal and external reasons. One example is that of detailing out the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) in any project management.
I hope things are in a broader light now. However, for any further queries you are free to place your valuable comments in the comments section below!