What is documentation?
Documentation applies to products and processes. In terms of product, documentation is the guideline and details about a product under development — and it encompasses execution information. Documentation elements such as specification, technical data, and a manual are constant elements in product management.
Process documentation refers to the stages and materials generated in the developmental phase. Process documentation includes a plan, report, and general overview of an entire process.
The significant difference between product and process documentation is that the former focuses on an object while the latter pertains to a development timeline.
The purpose of documentation is to keep developers and stakeholders on the same page. All parties involved can stay updated and connected to the developmental process.
The Importance of Documentation
● Adequate documentation saves time. A well-documented process of product development keeps things organized and easy to reference. When there are bottlenecks, documentation helps to untangle them. Especially when a team is taking over from another, documentation of past activities and plans will aid a smooth transition.
● Consistency is essential in every product creation process, even when a developing team can be flexible. Process documentation is most helpful in this situation as it serves as a guardrail. And as the product is developed, documenting the process provides a blueprint for similar production later. It will enable consistency in developmental processes, especially when products are reproduced.
● It makes collaboration easy. When bringing new individuals on board to add to a workforce or as a replacement, it’s essential to educate and help them integrate into the system. A well-documented work process helps with onboarding. It facilitates the flow of knowledge and, more importantly, provides a database for a business to depend on.
● It prevents repetition. Companies into service or product development need documentation to avoid duplication. At times, you can repeat a research project if other departments in an establishment need it. However, proper documentation serves as a database that can be used as a resource and reference. This way, new research won’t commence unless necessary; instead, previous data will suffice unless it has become obsolete.
● It boosts collective knowledge. Documentation boosts collective knowledge as every member of an organization can easily access the database to solve a task at hand. Furthermore, it hastens workflow and tasks execution. Compared to a centralized system of knowledge distribution whereby an individual with experience is regarded as the go-to person, documentation is decentralized. A go-to person may be unavailable as needed or reluctant to share. On the other hand, you can access documented processes frequently and repeatedly without fuss.
How to Document and Who can Document?
Documentation requires recording comprehensive details about a process or product. These include information about project participants, their role, development criteria, goals at different stages of development, and other essential details.
Teams in charge of production take on documenting vital information at various states. However, each organization can decide to assign someone who oversees documentation.