To document or not (Post 11)

I facilitated a brainstorming session at work today, on the documentation needed for a project.

Before I go any further I should say I am quite experienced in project management, and have developed a couple of project management systems for use in two different programs. The documentation we were discussing today was really focused on the ‘technical’ information, rather than the ‘project’.

For this particular project I will be using generalities to protect the innocent and the guilty, and will not mention what the project is…..but I am sure others have experienced similar situations.

Our current issues are:
– the process of documentation is more important than delivery
– the process of documentation is controlled by 2-3 people, while teams await instruction
– the documentation is written to meet the needs of the authors, not the end readers who need instruction
– the process of documentation is mind-numbing slow, with at least 2 workshops and revisions per piece of documentation
– there is an expectation there will be about 30 pieces of documentation. To be completed before handover to delivery can begin
– the owners are very possessive of the documentation

So, how to deal with this….

The first session, today, focussed on a couple of questions:
– what documentation do we have to date, and for whom was it written?
– what documentation is needed, by whom will it be written, and for whom will it be written.

This identified 30 types of documentation, of which 11 are completed or in draft. Using the current methodology we have a LONG way to go.

The next session will start with mapping the order of production and dependencies, and hopefully overlaps in content.

The third session will focus on rationalisation – what documents can be combined? What documents can be produced concurrently? Who should be at the table – just the usual authors? Or should the readers be there to highlight the gaps upfront?

I am hoping this will:
– share ownership of the documentation
– reduce the amount of documentation required
– reduce the time to produce the documentation
– get us moving towards delivery while still ensuring people receive the instruction they require.

I’ll let you know how this goes…. I have my fingers crossed it will help break the legacy of document possessiveness and overkill.

(On a separate note, if you type documentation incorrectly – autocorrect makes it do use tattoos !

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