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Documents Won’t Update Themselves

When asked how to create a new project schedule, the veteran Project Manager (PM) at an implementation company we know replied, “I never do one from scratch. I start with the last one I used and modify it.”

That makes sense. The most recent iteration should be the most up-to-date version of this very important deliverable. The PM is saving himself time and the company money by working from that version.

Except, in all the previous iterations the project schedule may have degraded. It may have left out valuable information that was not relevant to one client. Three clients later, the incomplete project schedule is still omitting information that might be valuable to today’s client.

The solution is to document the deliverable. Answer questions like: What is the project schedule? How is it used? Who is responsible for it? When is it done? Provide a company-approved template from which every PM should work. Provide a sample of a recently-used schedule so variations are recorded and best practices are shared. Update that sample frequently.

In theory, all projects should begin with the documentation library. Individuals should work from the approved templates and procedures. And they do, typically, until those procedures are no longer accurate.

We know process documentation gets outdated.

Once it is inaccurate, documentation is ignored. It collects dust on a shelf or withers away in a Sharepoint library.

In these advanced circumstances, there are three times when process documentation is accessed: 1) a mistake happened and authorities want to see evidence that there is a proper way to complete this process; 2) the company is under scrutiny during a due diligence investigation; or 3) someone new has come into the company and does not have a “most recent” version from which to start.

Clemson Road creates documentation that solves the out-of-date complaint and ensures that what is accessed in audit, investigation, or learning efforts is accurate and up-to-date.

Good documentation:

  • Begins with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and their common habits and tools.

  • Is accessible in-the-moment, not put away on a shelf.

  • Makes business processes easier by answering questions and providing templates.

  • Evolves as business users access it and share their most-recent versions.

  • Shares SME expertise for training and professional development.

  • Is supported by a culture that values the documentation and takes pride in its accuracy.

When we finished workshops with the PM quoted above, he had given us two hours of his time over six weeks and we had created a complete set of documents from which he could work. We housed the content on a frequently-used web platform so he could easily get to it. We made him the content owner and directed questions and suggestions from other PMs to him. As a leader in the organization, he demonstrated support for the process by holding his direct reports responsible for operating out of the approved document library.

Two months later, the company successfully completed due diligence with their new parent corporation. Among the cited advantages was the document library, the accessibility and accuracy of which thoroughly impressed auditors.

If your company’s documentation is unusable, Clemson Road can solve that. We have a low-impact methodology for revising existing content and generating sustainable, usable content out of new processes. We will even devise a knowledge management strategy to keep your documentation renewed as your business changes.

Call us today (803-569-8200) to solve your documentation challenges.

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