“If you didn’t document it, it didn’t happen.” ― Brett Shavers
Recently, an ex-colleague shared a brief story on the importance of documentation. And I will like to share the story with you as narrated.
Once upon a time, a lawyer was travelling by train from Liverpool to Manchester. When the train started, he realised he was travelling alone in the business class. A few minutes later, a beautiful lady came and sat in the opposite seat! The lady kept smiling at him and eventually, she sat next to him. The lawyer kept bubbling with joy.
As the train moves on, the lady leaned towards the lawyer and whispered in his ears, “hand over all your cash, cards, and mobile phone to me. Else, I will shout loudly and tell everybody that you are harassing and misbehaving with me.” The lawyer stared blankly at her as if unable to decode her utterance. He took out a paper and a pen from his bag and wrote, “I am sorry. I cannot hear or speak… Please write on this paper whatever you wish to say.”
The lady wrote everything that she had said earlier and gave it back to him. The lawyer took her note, kept it nicely in his pocket, got up and told her in clear tones: YOU CAN NOW SHOUT AND SCREAM!
The story herein was on a lighter mood. However, the moral of the lesson remains that we should learn to place value on documentation. Documentation, according to Wikipedia, is “a set of documents provided on paper, or online, or on digital or analog media, such as tape or CDs.” Furthermore, we are also safe to say documentation is the use of documents to prove or make something official.
Documentation in business is the act of record keeping required of the conducts and policies of the daily activities of a company. This involves the use of paper, or online, or media to document both verbal and non-verbal transactions initiated and sustained between two parties or more at any given time. Documentation is expected to be timely, detailed, and accurate. And as there are several needs for documentation, either positive or negative, the basic interest behind every documentation is reference.
One of the cultures that make outstanding companies become formidable forces is the ability to be both internally and externally organized. This act involves paying attention to details, which requires the use of documentation to observe all activities of a company with bias for time and necessity.
According to a report by an online platform, myzone.com, the importance of documentation are further stated and explained as follows:
- BUILDING COMPANY VALUE: If one day in the future you were to sell your company, one of the things that gives it value is the processes and work attached to it. Documentation can help increase future share price, by making it easier to understand the processes of a company and determine its value.
- GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR TIME: Reviewing documentation can shed light on the processes your team uses, and potentially help you see places where those processes could be streamlined.
- COLLABORATION: Documentation can make collaborating with people much easier, and cut down on meetings during the week. If you are using a tool such as Google Docs for your documents, you can easily document a process, share it with your team, and brainstorm ideas to improve it, all without wasting time.
- REDUCED TRAINING TIME: In addition to helping your existing staff optimize their processes, making sure everything your team does is clearly documented can also help train new hires quickly. Documentation can help get new hires up to speed without costing your existing staff valuable time and effort.
- 5. A GUIDE FOR OUTSTANDING TASKS: If and when you decide to outsource parts of your business, documentation becomes invaluable in making sure all of your outsourced employees know what they doing and what is expected of them. Depending on what tasks you outsource and where to, having clear and simple instructions for them to follow.
Referencing the story stated above, the art of documentation glaringly proves to us the dangers attached to lack of documentation. The possibility of someday losing all we’ve laboured for is another cause to beware of should we fail to secure ourselves with the necessary documentation at the cause of running our businesses. This involves the documents needed to operate as a company and that needed to keep competitive advantage ahead of other competitors.
Finally, considering that no business will survive for long without a proper documentation of its activities, at least periodically, it highly becomes recommended that we make it a way of life to document all our business engagements.
According to Wietse Venema, “lack of documentation is becoming a problem for acceptance.”
We Can. We Will. We Must
Akolawole is a Social Media and Customer Service Executive, a Columnist with Stockswatch newspaper, a Techie, Media geek, and an active Advocate on Entrepreneurship and nation building. He can be reached via email@example.com and/or +2348085366022 (SMS only).