There’s only one thing worse than no documentation, and that is inconsistent, inaccurate, or incomplete documentation. However, when looking for guidance on a process, an issue, or a company procedure, that’s what you discover.
Adequate documentation is critical to any business project, product, or service. It provides guidance and clarity to users, streamlines processes, and helps ensure that work is performed efficiently and effectively.
However, documentation issues are often dismissed as mere inconveniences, but in reality, they are severe organizational issue that creates significant friction between internal teams or management.
So, let’s first explore the three main qualities of quality documentation.
Organizations prefer each employee to perform the same task in the same way. For this, the same result is always expected. Therefore to achieve this result, proper documentation must be available.
A significant factor impacting quality documentation is the need for more completeness. This is often caused by insufficient explanations or processes that end abruptly, leaving a customer or team member halfway through a task.
This is frequently the result of needing to properly understand the processes, investing enough time for documentation during the planning stage, or starting the documentation task too late in the project lifecycle.
We expect things in the same group to look and feel the same, and when they don’t, it confuses the user. We expect things to be consistent.
The following are some of the factors that contribute to documentation inconsistency:
- Instructional materials are frequently documented in various formats, including standards operating procedures, user manuals, intranet, etc.
- A set of materials may contain variations of the same document within the same media.
- The natural tendency for individuals to create their workarounds can result in a jumbled mashup.
A single, centralized method that everyone on the team could use can generate consistent outputs.
For management, everyone complying with policies and procedures is a top priority. People are required to follow a specific set of steps, whether entering data into a CRM, handling a project, or attending to customer requests, simply because that is the requirement.
The organization must constantly communicate all job-related information to its employees, and this is often done in a disconnected way. There are policy documents, knowledge bases, and manager emails.
To correctly manage this situation, employees must have access to comprehensive, structured documentation that communicates effectively and keeps them informed and compliant with the thousands of policies and procedures they may encounter.
What is a Structured Documentation?
Structured documentation is that which fulfills the 3 Cs. It is any form of information organized into a logical system, making it easy for employees to find what they’re looking for quickly.
This can be anything from business processes, department processes, and procedures, e.g., an employee handbook that explains company policies and procedures, to an inventory list with product details and prices, so customers know what they’re getting when they order something online.
Why Do You Need Structured Documentation?
A structured system will help the business be more efficient because you’ll be able to find the information you need faster. You’ll also save time by having everything in one place instead of searching through different documents from different sources. For example, if you have a customer service department that handles hundreds of calls daily, you’ll need a way for your employees to figure out how to handle different situations quickly.
The main disadvantage of unstructured documentation is that it can lead to misunderstandings and errors in communication between departments.
How Do You Get a Structured Documentation?
You can get your structured documentation by hiring a consultant who can help you create one from scratch or tweak an existing system to meet your needs better than ever before.
Why Should You Hire a Consultant?
- It’s an investment in your business that will pay off in the long run.
- You’ll have access to many experts who can help you make the most informed decisions.
- Knowing that all areas are covered will give you peace of mind, so there’s no guesswork involved regarding essential requirements.
- A consultant can also train your team members to use the system once it’s created, so everyone knows how best to use these resources when needed!
So how does your project or process documentation stack up against the three qualities of quality documentation?