Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Late In The Day

If you do the Twitter thing, follow me at @hotpixUK
or LinkedIn here http://uk.linkedin.com/in/tonysmiththathousingitguy

For not the first time in my life, I was in a conversation with someone in the summer, about the consequences of key staff handing in their resignations and a fear that remaining team members will struggle without good documentation. Why oh why, after IT courses, methodologies and other vehicles abound, to guide us that documentation is an essential part of development, that we just don't do it? We seem comfortable to simply leave it in people's heads.

Going back a decade or more, when leaving permie positions, even though I was happy to empty my head on to paper or other documentation, most places never bothered. Getting closer to your last week I would wonder, 'surely someone soon, will ask me about these key things I have been working on this last year', but they rarely did. It was usually month end or later when the personal phone calls would come. By then my work cortex was emerged in some other problem, most likely in a completely different sector. Now I bet that has happened to you too?

In fact 'to document' is actually frowned upon in many places. An old friend of mine, now working for a key chip designer on contract, who co-incidentally I was having a few pints of well hopped real ale together with, the other evening, has received just this reaction.

People joke he does 'like his documentation' as if it was a quaint personality trait. Both he and I work on a contract basis and we both agreed that the better contractors do seem to have this habit. While it's better for the client, as they receive some well needed knowledge transfer, it's also good for us. As we both successfully juggle a number of projects concurrently, documenting properly enables some sensible compartmentalisation. When the same client 18 months down the line calls with a query, pulling out the pristine filed diagrams and procedures make you appear like an all-knowing polymath. Which of course we both are not, we are just well organised!

While in not all cases a technical author is needed, making sure that documentation at all stages of a project or development is crucial. Wrongly, it seen that documentation is wasted effort. The opinion that 'that staff member should be knocking out code instead, being productive' is probably familiar to us all. Our bigger suppliers can be the worse culprits can't they. I don't need to name and shame anyone, just open up your Housing Management or Contractor System and look at the state of the on-line help manual. That's if you can find it at all !

How often have you waded through over-techie amendment logs, wondering why these suppliers can't just tell us the changes in plain English?

So, staring into our pint pots, half full (not half empty) of course, we wondered if it was time for our profession to start up a CAMRD, A campaign for real documentation. That way when our IT staff jump ship, it doesn't leave a bitter taste in our mouths.

Related Post: Why dont you work your housing systems workflow harder?

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I would be pleased to connect with you on LinkedIn - http://uk.linkedin.com/in/tonysmiththathousingitguy Message me with any issues or queries, you would like to be explored in this blog. We generally receive a couple of suggestions each month.


Supergrass - Late In The DaySupergrass - Late In The Day.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009


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