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Documentation and Training

Reading Photo by Mari Helin-Tuominen on Unsplash

Project documentation is the step most often neglected in IT initiatives. Providing well organized and useful documentation is a source of pride for us. One of the best compliments we've received concerns a customer from 20 years ago. He recalled the depth and usefulness of documentation that we provided on his projects.

Documentation Mindset

Documentation is a business continuity and trust issue for us. What do we mean by this?

  1. We document systems in such a way that any knowledgeable IT person can understand what we've done and extend our work. In a time of crisis -- these detailed reference documents are invaluable.
  2. Our customers have the right to assume responsibilities for any capability that we initially deploy. It is unethical and unacceptable for us to hold a customer hostage for any technology effort.
  3. Our customer's business continuity must outrank any other goal. 

This mentality has probably reduced our revenue. But in 20+ years of business, we have reached this conclusion: As long as our emphasis remains on delivering value and enabling our customer, we trust our customers will do their part to help us succeed in our business.

Documentation and Training Examples

Typical documents we create include installation and recovery guides, data documentation, system use, and embedded program logic explanations. We use Atlassian Confluence, Enterprise Architect, Redgate SQL Doc, and Microsoft Word for these purposes. Sublime Text, Markdown syntax, and XMind play roles as well.

We use Git and Redgate SQL Source to manage projects. We share repository access with customers via BitBucket if desired.

We manage all account password and credentials using an open-source utility called "KeePass." At key milestones, we share this encrypted file with the customer.

Video tutorials are a terrific way of demonstrating a delivered system. They complement written documentation. When compared to live training they offer a more durable record of how something operates. We use a product called Camtasia which makes the authoring process simple.
We conduct on-site training somewhat informally for customers who are interested. 
We are a Microsoft Partner and are able to advise you on legal and licensing costs for Microsoft products.

Documentation ain't sexy - but it's a crucial part of our value proposition. The "Help Me Make Sense of this Database" article gives a more concrete example of our approach. Let us know if we can help you with a similar effort.