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The value of documentation: The secret to optimizing processes and avoiding costly mistakes

Imagine a team facing a project solved in the past without knowing its history. The lack of knowledge becomes a difficult challenge to overcome. If the previous team had left documentation on record (timelines, plans, meeting minutes, processes, roadmaps), they would have had access to a valuable source of knowledge to solve that problem.

“The human being is the only animal capable of stumbling twice over the same stone”.

Documenting avoids the repetition of mistakes. It also ensures that future people in the company do not face the same problems. Word-of-mouth training is ineffective and spreads incomplete information and faulty practices. Documenting records the steps clearly, allowing everyone to understand what to do, when to do it and how to do it.

The importance of documentation

Documentation is not only a record of processes but has a much deeper value. By promoting documentation as part of the company’s values, every decision becomes a learning opportunity. This fosters a growth mindset within the team and allows everyone to understand the consequences of past choices and the considerations behind them. As a result, they become better decision-makers.

It is about creating a culture where a collective growth story is built, not just a product. Documentation is presented as an integral part of the work, as vital as writing code. By promoting it, its importance is recognized and the team is encouraged to see it as a valuable tool for improving and adapting processes.

Documentation is the keeping of a record of a process during the execution of a project or task. Its purpose is to learn from the implementation to adapt and improve the strategy.

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Proactive and documented process management brings a number of benefits:

Eliminate errors

Documentation of software requirements and details helps to avoid costly errors during the development process.

For example, by clearly documenting test cases and acceptance criteria, errors can be identified and corrected before the software is deployed in production. This prevents failures and ensures the delivery of a quality product.

Reduce time spent on tasks

Extensive documentation of design patterns and programming best practices has significant benefits. It allows developers to work more efficiently and effectively.

For example, by documenting the use of a specific development framework and providing reusable code examples, developers are allowed to save time. It is no longer necessary to research and develop solutions from scratch, which improves their efficiency.

Reduce implementation and development costs

Clear documentation of software architecture and reusable components helps to reduce implementation and development costs.

For example, by documenting available interfaces and services, other teams can more easily integrate with existing software instead of developing customized solutions, saving time and resources.

Reduce resources associated with tasks

Full documentation of development processes and coding guidelines is key. It facilitates the proper allocation of human and technical resources.

For example, documenting the workflow and team responsibilities avoids duplication of effort and optimizes the use of available resources.

Improving efficiency

Up-to-date documentation of the tools and technologies used in software development has a significant impact. It enables teams to work more efficiently.

For example, documenting coding standards facilitates collaboration between developers. In addition, by providing clear guidelines on the use of libraries and frameworks, incompatibilities are avoided. These practices improve team productivity.

Improving the quality of the project

Thorough documentation of functional and non-functional requirements, together with test cases and bug reports, plays a key role in improving software quality. It provides a solid basis for development and enables greater accuracy in detecting and correcting problems, thus ensuring a high-quality product.

For example, by documenting performance criteria and performing load and stress testing, performance problems can be detected and fixed before the software is delivered to end users. This ensures optimal performance and a satisfactory user experience.

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These examples show how proper documentation in software development provides tangible benefits. These include reducing errors, improving efficiency, and optimizing resources. All of these factors contribute to the delivery of high-quality products.

When a procedure is not properly drafted it can have a number of disadvantages in the documentation

Here are some of the most common causes of poor documentation:

Failure to clearly explain the reason or purpose of the task or process

Documenting an installation process without mentioning why it is necessary for the system or how it relates to other functionality.

Omitting relevant information in the documentation

Not mentioning the system requirements necessary to run a specific application or software.

Adding unnecessary and distracting information in the documentation

Include long paragraphs of personal descriptions or anecdotes that do not add value to the document.

Documentation needs to be clear, complete, and concise. It should provide relevant information and omit elements that do not contribute to the main purpose of the document. This will ensure a better understanding and use of the documented processes and tasks.

The story of a real case of success in reducing costs and time in the development of your web project

We present a real case, where an (anonymous) company managed to reduce both costs and time in the development of a web project thanks to efficient documentation.

They faced previous challenges due to a lack of documentation in previous projects, which caused delays and additional costs. To address these problems, they prioritized documentation in a new project.

In development, they formed a dedicated team to plan and document the project, setting clear objectives, realistic timelines, and required resources. They held detailed meetings with the client to fully understand the requirements, creating comprehensive documents that included functional specifications, design, and security requirements. These documents served as a reference throughout the process.

Based on the requirements documentation, creating visual designs and clear descriptions of the website architecture. They also documented technical details and development best practices. They implemented a document management system to update and record changes, avoiding confusion and loss of information.

The results were a reduction in costs by avoiding errors, costly rework, optimizing the use of resources, and avoiding unnecessary modifications. In addition, time was saved by working in a more organized way and minimizing delays. Clear documentation of requirements facilitated decision-making and problem solving, speeding up development.

Only 4% of companies always document their processes.

In short, documentation is the key to success in your company

Documentation is more than a record; it is a powerful tool for learning and improvement. Documentation as a business value turns decisions into opportunities for growth. Proactive and documented management improves project quality and efficiency. Proper documentation requires clear and precise wording, avoiding unnecessary details.

If you would like to carry out good documentation of your software projects and benefit from this tool by simplifying decision-making and streamlining the development process, our team knows how to help you, contact us.

Jorge David Ortega – Software Developer at Itequia