When Is the Best Time to Start Documenting?

BY IT GLUE | December 29, 2022

“The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”

If you think about it, this adage about planting trees can be applied to any positive thing you want to do. Saving money, improving your fitness, you name it. If it’s something you could benefit from doing, but aren’t doing already, then the best time to start is now.

So let me ask you something.

Is having great IT documentation something that will benefit your organization?

You already know the answer. So, why haven’t you implemented top-of-the-line documentation already? Is it maybe because there’s an opportunity cost? You’d like to do it, but you have more important things to attend to. You want to improve your documentation, but it just isn’t the right time.

And so, here you are. Still stuck with documentation that’s probably incomplete, out of date, scattered all over the place, or worse yet, stuck in your team lead’s head.

While it may seem counterintuitive, today is the best time to invest in documentation. Here’s why. Getting your documentation in order helps your team run more efficiently and consistently because everybody follows the same processes. Onboarding goes more smoothly and is not so hands-on. You can automate a lot of the documentation, and better still, you can actually find it again later.

In short, you save a heck of a lot of time when your documentation is centralized under one roof and given the right structure. And what does time equal?

That’s right. Time = money.

Trying to stretch an already thin IT budget? Documentation. 

Need more time to combat tech debt or launch a much-needed security initiative? Documentation.

Want to go home at five o’clock? You guessed it. Documentation.

That’s why documentation is an investment. You can invest in a lot of things, of course, but documentation is a nice, quick win. Is it easier to invest a couple hundred dollars a month in a powerful new documentation tool, or is it easier to get approval for more headcount or change the organizational culture?

And what about the fire you’re trying to put out today? Well, if you don’t have fires very often, that’s fine. Just grab the hose and get at it. However, it’s more likely there’s always fires, so there’s always something urgent to worry about.

There’s a difference between urgent and important though. “Urgent” is getting caught up in fighting fires all day. “Important” is investing in things that make fighting fires easier. In IT, that means better documentation and a more efficient team.

If you focus on solving the important things, you’ll find that you have a lot fewer urgent things to worry about.

Getting your documentation into one centralized location and giving it some structure is important for the sustained success of any IT team. But because it isn’t urgent, documentation gets put on the back burner all too often.

The best time to get your documentation in order was sometime in the past, the second best time to get your documentation in order is right here, right now.


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