The Keys to Documentation in the Google Age

The way we are learning is changing.

A series of experiments conducted at Columbia University produced evidence that people are better at remembering where to look for information on the Internet than they are at remembering the information itself.  Instead of retaining it, we’re relying on Google to show us where the information can be found.

There’s no uncertainty that our dependence on the web is increasing.  If search engines went away tomorrow, many of us, particularly today’s youth, would struggle with how to obtain it elsewhere. Instead of taking notes and memorizing, we are saving searches and bookmarking websites to refer back to later.

Since we’ve become a society that relies heavily on searching information, it’s more important than ever for companies to document their procedures.  Documentation saves time, enhances workflow and simplifies the training process for new hires.

At ACF, documenting procedures is something we continuously strive to improve upon.  While we have handful in place, we’re working continuously to document in a way that’s optimal for the staff performing the task. Below are a few things we’ve learned along the way.

Organization is important
Organization is imperative when creating documents for company procedures.  A consistent document structure will simplify it to the degree that it is easy for your staff to follow.  It will also ensure that all necessities are included.  Storing your documentation in a central location is critical.  It should be easily accessible.  Manage this by storing documents in a binder, file cabinet, or digitally on the company server.

Images are worth a thousand words (and nobody likes to type that much)
Sometimes, it’s better to see how to do something than it is to read about it. When possible, include graphics and visuals in your documentation.  Screenshots and step by step photos can make a tremendous difference in the interpretation of the procedure.

Include everything
Provide as many details as possible without trailing off subject.  What you might feel is obvious; another person may not interpret as such.  Put a check and balance in place.  Have a delegate that is unfamiliar with that particular job responsibility attempt the task based on what you’ve written.  You will quickly find out if it is thorough or if there is something that needs to be amended.

Since we’re a generation that searches for information as opposed to memorizing it, thorough documentation is vital to any business that recognizes the significance of efficiency. What are some tips you can share regarding documentation?


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