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Documents suck, information is cool

(With respects to Aarawak for messing with  their tag line)

I’ve been thinking recently about the role of documents in an organisations process,  and the slowly dawning realisation that they are increasingly irrelevant, barriers to information sharing, and possibly damaging to all that come near them. Ok that may be a little strong, but let me ellaborate.

When the ”document’ becomes the focus of your efforts, and not the information in them then they become a problem, not a solution.  You’ll need document management, audit and access control. when all you really want is the latest info, in an easy to find and use format, also know as ‘a Wiki’.

Worse, documents, when created to satisfy the needs of a process or procedure are often resented by the creator, written after the fact and as quickly as possible, and as a result can include inaccuracies, disinformation and missing details that are needed, in short document suck and act as a barrier to information sharing.

Develop a wiki as part of your project, allow all the actors in your team to contribute as needed, and not only do you have a record of the activity, discussions and decisions made on the project, you have living documentation to support the product once its released.

Now in order to make sure that the information being added to the site is findable,  you still need to have some control over the the structure, language and fair use of the wiki.  The idea is to make sure that on any product wiki, any one type of information (IA diagram for a web site for instance) will always be in the same relative location.  (mysite/ia/diagrams).  How you manage this is up to you, either build the structure and contributors follow it, or you do a little post editing, the end results are the same.

In any event ditch the documents, focus on the information instead.

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