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Many businesses expend significant and increasing rare funds in creating documents supporting the design, development and implementation of initiatives that are expected to provide them with real benefit. How many of these same businesses are able to describe the both the impact and the dependencies a single initiative will have on other initiatives that are in train or in fact have been delivered.

The downside of many documents produced is that they tend to be static (point in time) rather than living and dynamic. The end game in document production is often to have it printed and then ‘signed-off’. Once in the ‘signed-off’ state the document, referred to by some as shelf-ware may only rarely be referred to again.

Businesses need to actively examine the on-going relevance of documents produced. Initiatives should be supported by an active repository that holds all relevant and up-to-date information that can be readily queried. Documents can be, with some effort, made dynamic with content being sourced/linked to the repository. 

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One Response to Documentation

  1. Peter T says:

    As an ex software configuration manager, I can attest to the value of a versioned repository that stores records of software and hardware. There is much knowledge, value and decision support possible based on what has happened and what is to hand. Indeed ITIL’s configuration management databases can assist with this.

    The problems include business content (strategy, capability, requirements, testing, end user training and documentation, etc). Historically, the repositories outside office automation based documents/files treat each of these business items as pillars. Further issues are that Project Management methodology pushes for deliverables over value and updates to knowledge. How many of us can truly say we’ve run projects that don’t have a legacy in place that we can build upon?

    The shift to managing knowledge as part of business is coming. Companies that do it well already don’t advertise it. Companies that want quantum leaps in productivity, efficiency and customer service have to make painful change in order to manage knowledge as an asset.

    I can think of many new and old companies that do this well. Can others list some?

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