Useful documentation is one of the most important elements for a growing business. Whatever you’re working on, the ability to quickly bring new team members up to speed is a major advantage in efficiency.
That said, for many businesses, good information is hard to find. So-called Tribal Knowledge, where only certain employees within a business have any real knowledge about products, customers, or processes, is by far the rule of the day for most.
For a rapidly-growing company, information that only exists inside the heads of a few people may as well not exist at all. Finding a route to a good documentation strategy is critical, and it’s simpler than it may seem at first blush to organize effectively.
Developing a thought-out, organized structure for your documentation is a critical step to take before ever opening a Word document. The better thought-out your specific strategies for content structure before you get started, the stronger foundation you’ll have to keep everything organized.
You don’t have to overthink the structure. It’s tempting, particularly with more complicated subject matters, to create deep, nesting hierarchies of folders that are hyperspecialized to individual topics. This is a trap, as it can be difficult to navigate and, more critically, time-consuming and complex to create in the first place.
Keep the categories simple and focused on the most important functions and processes for the organization.
For many organizations, documentation that exists is built out in an ad hoc way, with each user who has something new to add putting up a new folder or space for their own documentation. This way lies chaos. To keep that information accessible, centralize control over documentation structure with users adhering to the format of one overall vision for your content.
Giving users the ability to add the content they need ensures that the tribe’s needs and desires are met. Focusing that content on a centralized structure and style provides the guard rails which ensure that content is readable, accessible, and usable.
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