Following on from last week’s post, this week we are starting to look at what each part of the model looks like in a concrete, ‘here it is written down’ sense. I’ve interchangeably used the terms ‘deliverables’, ‘artefacts’ and ‘documents’ and probably will continue to. These are the physical incarnations of organisation-tailored concepts – where the goals, processes and metrics (etc) of an organisation are documented.
Before I get started though (we’ll leave that until next week), I did want to spend some time thinking about the role of documentation in improving the way you do business. However, it is now 11:00pm at night and I realllllly need some sleep, so I think I’ll be reverting to dotpoints. Dotpoints are great because they make it really obvious when the writer has gone off on a tangent – rather than paragraphs that allow you to disguise ramble in long lines of text, in the way that it’s easy to hide trees in a forest – so they will hopefully keep my wandering brain on track tonight. Let’s move on quickly out of this paragraph before I get too lost! (But apologies for any typos or dreadful Freudian slips.)
Here is the way I see it.
- Documentation should not be an end in itself (in terms of organisational achievement, that is… obviously if you’re writing your magnum opus and really don’t care if anyone reads it, documentation is a pretty good end alone. In fact, all of these dotpoints are about organisational achievement, so we’ll just take that as a given for the rest of them).
- Documentation is a means to an end. (The end being the active achievement of business goals.)
- Documentation should not be completed until deliberation has occurred. (This could lead into all sorts of tangents about making sure you know your purpose and audience before putting pen to paper. There is no point in just writing for the heck of it!)
- The purpose of documentation should be to assist in business goals being actioned and achieved. (The same as any action undertaken within an organisation should be able to be somehow traced back to the business goals.)
- The role of documentation in supporting the achievement of goals is to:
- Enable people to get a common understanding about the important things (apologies for the vagueness),
- Assist in recall one year or ten years down the track (it’s funny how much history changes in one’s memory), and
- Retain corporate knowledge (so that when your long-term, jack-of-all-trades employee gets hit by the metaphorical bus you have a mitigation measure already in place).
So where am I going with this? It’s very simple. If you are aiming for success in an organisation of any size you do need to document how this will occur. This is why over the next couple of months I will be exploring the format of the documents required to implement a model for superior business analysis within your organisation.
However, don’t fall into the very alluring trap of writing reports and documents just for the heck of it. A report here…. A paper there… very quickly you can end up with a useless mound of paper, a great deal of theory and very little action. I believe that ‘Analysis paralysis’ is the technical term, or maybe ‘lazy thinking’.
Either way, turning words into action can be difficult without putting a lot of thought into it, knowing what you want to achieve and making what you write fit for purpose.
What do you think?
Are there any other benefits of documentation? And have you got any examples of pointless writing usurping action?