Pittsburgh Technical Council

To Doc or Not to Doc? That is the Question.

To Doc or Not to Doc? That is the Question.

Article Published: December 22, 2014

By Denise DeSimone, c-leveled.com, Contributing Writer

When it comes to documenting just about anything, how much is enough? We all know that providing too much information bogs down the whole process, causes long debates rather than action and eventually all this over-analysis causes paralysis and the plan can become waylaid altogether.

However, the reverse is also true: not enough documentation and you risk confusion, duplication of effort, staff members running in circles without clear forward direction and an overall waste of time and money, plus the risk of creating something that doesn’t meet customer expectations, wants or needs.

There’s only one way to be certain that all the oars are in the water and everyone is rowing together: sufficient documentation that ensures all involved are on the same page, with the same vision.

There is an inverse relationship between documentation and communication. The less the documentation, the more communication is needed and likewise, the more documentation, the less communication is required to ensure results.

For example, if you want to use off-shore development for a product, then you need specifications that are excruciatingly detailed to ensure the outcome. Oftentimes, going domestic seems to be more expensive, when the savings in time, understanding and productivity result in a significantly shortened time-to-market, thereby increasing profitability. 

The key with documentation is to know your audience and provide them with the information they need. Everyone involved needs a clear understanding of the overall vision of what is to be accomplished, the customer need that is being solved and the benefits the product will offer.

In addition, every product needs a specification, design, blueprint, wireframe, storyboard (whichever term your business uses), so everyone clearly sees what is to be built. Most industries will need a working model or prototype before actual execution, to discover any flaws in the plan. Everyone needs a realistic budget and schedule that balance features, costs and timing.

Leadership, marketing and sales need a bold and honest competitive analysis to make sure a better mouse trap is indeed being built. Then, marketing needs to know how to brand and message, sales needs to know the terms to pitch and close, leadership needs to coordinate all efforts, raise capital and launch it out the door and customers need to know about it, how to find it, and how to use it. 

Teams often make the mistake that all information regarding a plan needs to be in the same document. Don’t be afraid to divide and conquer, creating multiple documents that address the needs of each audience member or group.

Documenting a product or business plan is a necessity. To do it well, without overdoing it, is an art. If you are interested in developing a product or launching a business, we at C-leveled are dedicated to helping businesses evolve, grow and reach the next level. Be sure and contact us to help your vision become a reality. For more information, visit us at www.c-leveled.com or join us the third Thursday of every month for our #CNBSEEN networking events.

After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 1983, Denise DeSimone created a start-up branch of Gibraltar Computers, then one of the largest IBM business partners in the Southeast region. Since then, she’s started eight companies and became CEO of Advanticom in 2005. She founded C-Leveled in 2010. Inc. magazine ranked C-leveled in the top 1,000 on its Inc. 5000 2014 list, due to C-leveled’s 487% growth rate over the past three years. Inc. also ranked the organization #11 in the Pittsburgh region.

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