All large development projects in information technology, irrespective of their area or application generate quite amounts of sophistication and as such need reference material. The Linux Information Project (2005) defines documentation as “any communicable material that is used to describe, explain or instruct regarding some attributes of an object, system or procedure, such as its parts, assembly, installation, maintenance and use”. The truth however, is that no one wants to write about it, read about it, and quite frankly most try to avoid implementing it. Nevertheless, good documentation in Information Technology leads to many positive results; thus, a major reason why Belize Social Security Board’s system analyst Mr. Roberto Bol sees it as a critical element in their major shift in IT infrastructure.
The Need for Documentation
Mr. Bol’s moving from previous job positions to Social Security was described as a professional view changer from non-documenting practices to firm models that outline every step of the IT processes. The simple fact is that failure to document leads to miscommunications in the implementations stages of systems, having to recode, over spending in equipment, and loss of time in support that could have easily been avoided (Balusubramanian, 2012). Any of the mentioned consequences could cost millions of dollars to an organization like the Social Security Board that heavily relies upon Information Technologies that coordinates, and supports majority of their day to day services.
Without a doubt careful documentation can save any organization time, efforts, and money when it comes to the realm of IT (Patil, 2016). Additionally, it opens up a whole wide range of opportunities for the organization, developer, or administrator who is following the proper path. Firstly, it clarifies the organizations business goals, requirements, and activities. Each member gets a clear picture of the overall vision and goals and how each of the activity they perform will amass towards the success. It also specifies the designs of products, systems, or software that are to be developed with quick overviews of the architectural or schematic process that will be involved. Moreover, great documentation is helpful in communication with other entities such non IT related departments that allows them to capture a grasp of what is being done, and other fellow coders, administrators who wish to in part take in the overall implementation. As Mr. Bol explained, it defines a clear scope and explanation of every necessary step along the process. This allows one as the IT professional to explain each feature, and assists end users and managers in understanding them.
It’s been said that “documentation is becoming a problem of acceptance” (as cited in Patil, 2016). Some people simply refuse to implement it, and some just don’t enforce or require them. But when it is implemented, it is even more of a challenge to maintain because it must continuously be updated when changes occur (Cybor Systems, n.d). Bugs will appear, developments will proceed, and changes of systems with other party tools will evolve. With each of these changes, modifications must also be made to any document that has been incorporated to address the most current issue or change. This signifies that it is an additional challenge to entities trying to implement good documentation practices, but it must be noted that once there is an existing one it is a less difficult path than starting one later on in the process.
There are no true shortcuts to good documentation, but there are surely fruitful results through the implementation. As a system analyst, Mr. Bol’s approach to proper documentation and use of software development models greatly assists the integrity of data at the Social Security Board. It emphasizes clear mediums of references, while preparing for future demands that will save time and money. “The Faintest Ink is better than the best memory” Chinese proverb (Potter, 2016).
Cyborg Systems. (n.d). Documentation is the Most Valuable Thing You Can Do. Retrieved from http://cyborginstitute.org/projects/administration/documentation/
Potter, A. (2016). The Faintest Ink is Better than the Best Memory. Retrieved from http://www.macleans.ca/general/the-faintest-ink-is-better-than-the-best-memory/
S, Balusubramanian. (2012). Importance of Documentation. Retrieved from http://itknowledgeexchange.techtarget.com/information-technology-management/importanceof-documentation/
T, Patil. (2016). Why Documentation is Important in Software Testing. Retrieved from http://www.softwaretestinghelp.com/why-documentation-is-important-in-software-testing/
The Linux Information Project. (2005). Documentation Definition. Retrieved from http://www.linfo.org/documentation.html
published by Alberto J. Matus