Quality of Documentation with Document Control

A document (coined from the word Documentum, which means "teaching") is a printed (hard copy) or electronic copy (soft copy) that represents some information, reference material for a product, evidence of an official record, or proof of specific points. Documents are created using different electronic means; the most commonly used is the Microsoft Word processor. A document can be created as an electronic copy and printed into a hard copy.

Documentation can be defined as the process of classifying, arranging, and annotating documents. It can be in digital, analog, or hard copy form.

It can also be said to be the process of creating or writing a discovery or certain confidential information for future use or reference purpose.

Documentation can also refer to any material that can describe, reference, explain, instruct the procedure, assembly, maintenance, and installation of an object.

Documentation is applied in our daily life activities, but it is used mainly by companies.

Types Of Documentation

  • Learning-oriented tutorials
    • It is a type of documentation that teaches a beginner how to start and achieve something learning-oriented.
    • It guides a beginner on how to achieve a goal by performing a specific series of steps.
  • Goal-oriented how-to guides
    • Goal-oriented documentation has a specific goal, target, or accomplishment. It is characterized by a series of steps, after which tasks are created to achieve a particular result. It is driven by motivation and purpose.
  • Information-oriented reference material
    • This type of documentation informs readers about specific projects and cites examples for better understanding. It doesn't introduce, neither does it achieve, but it refers to other materials (reference books, sources, resources) that are more explanatory for more knowledge.
  • Understanding-oriented discussions
    • It tends to clarify or teach a particular topic at a broader view for greater understanding.

Advantages of Proper Documentation In An Organization

  • Comprehensibility
    • Adequate documentation helps to ensure that each document is written appropriately, making it easier to read and maintain. The information is mapped out in different ways, following certain guidelines and outlines that make the document comprehensible and understandable.
    • Proper understanding of documentation in organizations always makes project teams easier and successful.
  • Cohesion
    • Proper documentation brings a level of cohesion and knowledge to the reader. It aids in knowledge sharing, helps to understand how specific projects work.
  • Communication process
    • Proper documentation provides a critical communication process between teams and organizations. People wouldn't need to be clairvoyant before they know what is being communicated.
  • Consent and expectations
    • It helps narrate certain decisions made, how organizations and teams react to different problems or situations, and how they were treated with formulated treatment plans and expectations after carrying out the series of steps.
  • Saves time and energy
    • On average, workers in a team or organizations spend hours searching or collecting needed information, details, and directions from different sources.
    • Effective documentation that collects or keeps all the needed information saves time and energy that will be used to dig through tons of emails or sources on the internet.
    • When starting a new project, writing down the process and steps are fundamental to catalyze the efficiency of an organization or team.
  • Effective Documentation Reduces duplicative work
    • Organizations and teams execute similar projects previously completed by a different set of people. Ensuring proper documentation and catalogs of past projects will assist future teams and reduce the workload considerably.
  • New Teams Can Be Hired Without Fear
    • After several years of working in an organization, people will retire from their positions and be replaced by new people. When this happens, hiring new team members could be challenging due to their inexperience. There would be a need for them to be educated and empowered on how the projects work.
    • Proper documentation made by previous staff members will provide guides and directions for the new staff, answer questions baffling their minds, and jump daunting hurdles.
  • Smarter Decisions
    • When documentation of a past project is studied by a new team, it creates a sense of smartness and confidence to achieve the project or task, makes an overwhelming task run smoothly, and eliminates all forms of confusion.
    • It also increases the team members’ knowledge, brings about transparency, collaboration, guide, cooperation, and assurance of maximizing and providing the best quality services to their clients.
  • Improvement
    • Effective documentation improves on tasks and projects that were executed in the past.
    • A newly hired team can refer to past documentation as to their case study. They will study how the idea was pitched, the process, guidelines, series of steps taken, outlines, and results. They can also analyze the weaknesses, faults, and defects, the reaction of the past clients to the documented project, and improvise on ways to avoid the faults to achieve a better result and get a good rating from their clients.
  • Quality Services Are Rendered
    • Effective documentation brings about the rendition of quality services to the client.
  • Increased Revenue
    • As the saying goes, "time is money.” The quick conclusion of a project paves the way for the execution of another project, thereby increasing revenue for an organization.
  • Professional Advantage
    • Poor documentation in an organization shows a poor understanding of the importance of keeping information about executed tasks or projects and clients’ confidential information that may be needed in the nearest future. Poor documentation places an organization's competitor at an advantage as it affects its performance, causes loss of crucial information, and reduces efficiency.
    • Effective documentation places an organization at a professional advantage. Clients will view your organization as a professional that efficiently executes tasks. Since they know the services your organization can execute, they will award projects and make recommendations to your organizations.

Some Major Effects of Poor Documentation In An Organization Are

  • Waste Of Time And Energy
    • As stated earlier, organizations with an effective documentation system are more time and energy conserved. Organizations with poor documentation are prone to time-wasting, loss of valuable steps, guidelines, and procedures followed when carrying out specific projects or tasks. The need to refer back to these projects may arise in the future, and employees will begin digging for information and doing research that is only a waste of time and energy.
    • Team members may get frustrated with the tedious research process, which may lead to the rendition of low-quality services to clients, tarnishing the organization's image.
  • Reduces Productivity
    • After much time has been wasted mapping out ways of executing a particular project, the productivity and workflow will be reduced compared to previously executed projects.
    • The organization will not meet customer satisfaction, leading to certain penalties and legal action over breach of contract and execution of non-quality projects.
  • Loss Of Confidential Information
    • Research shows that organizations with poor documentation, systems are bound to lose or mishandle some crucial and confidential information of their clients. This may harm the organization later if the need for this information arises later or is leaked to fellow competitors.
  • Disorganization
    • An organization with a poor documentation problem is prone to disorganization.
    • All organizations are obligated to keep their client data in an organized system to avoid inefficient records management which brings difficulty in keeping track of customer information.
  • Corruption & Fraud
    • Lack of effective documentation can lead to corruption and fraud attacks on an organization. Well-documented organizations have a low vulnerability of being defrauded.
  • Reputation Damage
    • When projects executed or services to clients are ineffective or have certain defects and faults, the organization’s reputation is at risk. If such an act persists, it can damage the reputation of the organization.
  • Loss Of Clients
    • After many complaints from clients over poor productivity, clients tend to seek a better option, with your competitors putting your organization at a disadvantage.
    • No Client wants to deal or award their contract to an organization with a damaged reputation, unproductive, or disorganized documentation system. This leads to a decrease in the revenue generated, which may later lead to bankruptcy.

Enforce Quality Documentation by applying the ‘Six Virtuous Cs’

Poor documentation is a big problem in organizations that needs to be eliminated. To create an effective documentation system in an organization, the virtuous "Six Cs" need to be followed.

  • Concise
    • One of the rules that must be followed when preparing the documentation is conciseness. It must not appear ambiguous and must be written in clear terms.
    • Documentation must be writing that only reveals the needed, crucial and relevant point, material, or knowledge needed. It focuses on the required aspects. Useless words or irrelevant sentences are to be excluded.
    • It follows a saying that goes, "simply say what you need to say, and stop." However, note that while trying to be concise when preparing documentation, the needed points, timelines, hints, master budgets, schedules, contact lists should not be excluded.
  • Complete
    • An effective Documentation must be complete, it must contain processes written in detail, and it must be cohesive. It must include the client’s needs, goals, aims, reactions, and ratings toward the services rendered.
    • Complete Documentation aids in knowledge sharing, and it helps a team have a complete understanding of how certain situations are approached and solved.
  • Consistent
    • Documentation must be delineated clearly and cohesively to attain understanding. Inconsistent documents tend to distract readers and disrupt the cognitive process. All words used must correlate with each other; the project details, scopes, and guides must be written in an original pattern.
    • Consistency in writing documentation helps readers sift out similar information and its importance, improving the documented materials.
  • Comprehensible
    • One of the most critical points that need to be adhered to when preparing the document is comprehensibility.
    • Documentation must be written understandably. Most times, documents may not be needed until, after several years, so they must be written in a manner that will be easily approachable, comprehended by young generations to come.
    • It is advisable to write documentation using simple words and grammar that an average man can comprehend without dictionaries or reference materials.
  • Correct
    • The most important of the virtuous "Six Cs" is the documentation’s correctness, authenticity, and accuracy.
    • Incorrect documentation is putting an organization at risk, which can lead to a disaster. Documentation is followed by a team to carry out specific operations; if the documentation appears wrong, it could lead to loss of money, projects, and rendition of services that aren't the client’s expectation.
  • Control
    • Document control is a document management process whose primary function is to control, process, review, secure, store, protect, distribute, retrieve, dispose of, modify, and identify. It also ensures that documentations are accessible only to authorized people who can effortlessly search, find, and retrieve active or archived documentations. It also prevents the leak of sensitive documentation to third parties or competitors, aids security, reduces business risks, promotes transparency, and others.
    • In conclusion, information is an organization’s most precious commodity, and we have established that quality document management aids in smoother and smarter performance. Document control is essential for every organization that aims to perform at its best. We have a document control feature embedded in our change control software, specializing in helping organizations control changes to the documentation.