Documentation?! Why do I need this? Can’t you just wait for the finished product?  These are all questions often asked by vendors when a client requests that documentation be provided throughout the course of a project.  So why is it so important?

Over the last several years it has become increasingly important to make sure new implementations, updates/changes to current systems or processes are documented.  This is due in part to the generation that has held a position for 25-30 years and is now moving on to retirement along with all their knowledge. Even with the best of training, once that individual is gone there are still questions that cannot be answered unless there is a documented reference.  Additionally, State and Federal agencies are becoming more aware that once a project is complete and the vendor moves on, staff are required to continue the duties once owned by the vendor. Without the appropriate documentation, confusion and frustration soon set in as staff are asked to perform tasks without documented steps or instructions.  This is where Information Management is key and most specifically the documentation retention and storage component.

Information Management, according to Wikipedia, is the collection and management of information from one or more sources and the distribution of that information to one or more audiences.

Documentation gathering should occur early in any project and continue throughout the life-cycle of the project. Even though documentation is often not in the form of paper, it needs to be retained for a number of reasons such as reference, validation or history. Managing documentation using techniques such as version control, archiving and removal of outdated information is vital to ensuring current documentation is accessible to the client, stakeholders or any authorized users.

Documentation not only needs to be stored in an organized, accessible manner but decisions need to be made in regard to the distribution of documentation.  Distributing documentation can be in the form of allowing access to the repository to all required users, sending notifications to a designated group when updates or additions are made, or a central point of contact that will distribute updated or new documentation to the required participants.  Storage solutions that can be either a central repository or multiple repositories, for ease of access for all audiences, is another consideration when establishing document retention processes.  Enlisting the coordination skills of an experienced Information Management team can assist in these decisions to ensure the best solutions are implemented.

In addition to documentation being stored in a manner that can be easily retrieved or reviewed by staff, it is important to ensure that each document is secure and has the appropriate access limitation to prevent an accidental sharing of confidential data. With the growing concern of data security, netlogx has the expertise and up to date methods to ensure that all documentation, whether containing personal information or not, is released to only those with the appropriate credentials.

Documentation will continue to be required, even as technology increases and times change. More and more agencies, especially at the State and Federal level will continue to require supporting documentation not only to ensure transitions in staff and departments can continue with or without training but for funding purposes, to validate that the dollars spent are supporting the intended outcome.  Documentation isn’t a burden but confidence to move forward from current processes or methods into future improvements.