The worst part of a software roll-out is documenting what you did. In this process-centric manufacturing world, documentation is something you have to do, your last resort, your anything-but-go-to source. No one seems to really use it, but you always have to have it. Even with Wikis, SharePoint, online collaboration, and documentation tools, creating and maintaining documentation is still a pain in the neck. I believe a part of the hatred stems from not knowing HOW to document the project information. It’s much easier to start with a template, but that only takes you so far. So how does one make documentation a pleasant experience?
1. Stay Up-to-Date
No matter how knowledgeable you are, everyone can use a refresher even in their expert fields. Reading an up-to-date technical writing book or reviewing current online writing sources is always helpful.
2. Leverage Strong Tools
Microsoft Word documents in a Windows folder don’t count. Use a document management tool, or even your Product Data Management (PDM) system.
3. Don’t Get Caught Up on Templates
Often templates are created to sound so ‘official’ that later you don’t even know what it’s telling you. So be sure to write so you understand your content later.
4. Include Visuals
Who says documents need to be text based? Lots of process maps, diagrams and pictures help enhance your understanding.
5. Set a Time for Writing
To help avoid procrastination, schedule time to focus on your writing, even if it’s only an hour.
6. Have a Purpose
Once you establish the document purpose, it’s easier to develop the content. Be sure to create your document so you’re not forced to change every page, diagram or picture with every new decision or software upgrade. While creating, always begin with the purpose. Is it to educate? Provide a starting point? Facilitate questions? And, always consider “can I execute against this document”?
7. Keep It Simple
If you transfer ownership of the document, then you should be able to train the new owner how to manage the document in less than twenty minutes. Any more than that and you may confuse the next writer.
Unfortunately, documentation is not a one-and-done task. Documents are living, breathing, iterative children that grow and mature over time. Follow these cardinal rules and your documentation experience will be elevated the next time around.
What do you do to avoid procrastinating on documentation your project? Do you have your own cardinal rules? Tell us in the comments below.
- What to Have in Place – Before Starting your MES Journey - October 4, 2016
- Why Defect Containment Should Be Standard in Any MES - September 26, 2016
- 7 Useful Guidelines for Documentation - April 18, 2016
- 3 Tips for Writing Clear Work Instructions - March 8, 2016
- Not a Fix It and Forget It – Continuous Improvement - December 7, 2015
- Don’t Let the Marketing Fool You, Real Value Gets Created on the Shop Floor First - July 27, 2015
- Manufacturing Operations Management Made the World Flat - July 10, 2015
- 5 Killers of Cycle Time - May 13, 2015
- What is eDHR? - March 25, 2015
- Crush the Fear of Change Like Champions Do - December 17, 2014