Documentation: Improving the path for others

By - September 30, 2016

I remember one of my first jobs working at a bank. I was so excited to learn everything about the business and to start making my mark on the company. I went through training and absorbed as much as I could and was ready to start working with clients. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm soon waned when I began meeting with our clients, because I was continuously being pulled aside by coworkers, telling me that I was providing outdated information. I explained that I was doing things just as I had been trained and I even had the training guide to back me up. Then I was told that the guide had been outdated for some time and that I needed to start taking notes. When I asked why no one had taken the time to update the training material, I was told “Hey, I had to go through the same thing so…..”

How often do we get wrapped up in a process, forgetting to create documentation that standardizes guidelines? One may think that they didn’t have it easy, so why should the next guy? However, this prevents us from growing as leaders and robs us of the experience of making process improvements. It is important that when we take on something new and we find that there are opportunities to improve processes, that we are not only coming up with solutions, but that we are also documenting them for ourselves and for others. We have all likely been handed a project that has missing information or training material that is outdated and includes instructions that are no longer relevant. This is why we all need to take the extra step of documenting updates or changes, so things don’t continue to be stuck in the mud and we don’t repeat the cycle of others trying to find information that has already been sourced by each person before them.

In closing, I would like to share with you a few things that will benefit your coworkers and clients. When reviewing training materials, make real time edits as you notice outdated material. It is also important to make sure you share this with others. Having a folder full of secrets that only you benefit from is not something we do on purpose, but can easily happen over time. It is also important to not overly complicate things by providing more information than is needed. Ensure things are easy to understand and free of confusing acronyms. Consider that the next person, whether it be an employee or client, may not have the same level of expertise that you have with the subject at hand. Think of common mistakes and best practices that may not be documented yet, that may help someone who is unfamiliar with the project. Clarification improves efficiency. If there is an item that is a gray area, go the extra mile and find out if there is a resource that can provide more information.

If we begin to look at the big picture, we will see that the easier we make things for each other and more importantly for our clients, the more likely opportunities are to present themselves.

To learn more about RSM’s consulting services and please check out our website. You can also contact RSM’s technology consulting professionals at 800.274.3978 or email us.

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