Documentation is something every company struggles with. It takes significant time and effort to put together comprehensive documentation on company-specific information such as how homegrown software or other tools work; which positions are responsible for which tasks or are the best resources for particular issues; industry-specific knowledge; etc.
Furthermore, once that documentation is compiled, it needs to be regularly updated so it doesn’t become outdated, incomplete, and inaccurate.
Documentation Takes Time
The problem many companies face is there often isn’t a clear and immediate benefit to spending the time creating and maintaining documentation.
A 100-page training document might sit untouched for months. But when someone needs that information and it isn’t documented, a lot of time is wasted by many people on a one-off basis, with the effort having to be repeated the next time the information is needed.
One strategy to maintain such documentation is to make documentation part of the training process.
Documentation as Part of the Training Process
Making documentation part of the training process can save time and ensure documentation remains up to date.
Once a trainee in the accounting department completes training on the year-end reconciliation process for procurement, for example, have him or her create instructions to document that process. Or, if instructions already exist, have him or her update them by either correcting outdated process information or adding new steps or additional detail.
Not only does this keep the documentation fresh, but it also helps employees retain the knowledge they’ve just learned. Humans tend to remember something better when they attempt to teach it to others. Although creating or updating documentation isn’t the same as teaching someone a new skill or new information in person and in real time, it can still reinforce what has just been learned.
Documentation and employee training can be time-consuming and labor-intensive, so why not double dip on the rewards for those efforts by improving documentation and reinforcing trainee learning simultaneously? Just be sure to have one of your subject matter experts review any new additions or modifications before they become part of the official canon!