I wrote great documentation that nobody used, are you doing the same?
Over the years, I’ve found myself on a “documentation journey” to find a way to create how-tos in a way that a team can easily follow.
Part 1: Not knowing I need documentation
In the early days, documentation wasn’t even part of my company vocabulary. I simply focused on executing ideas, one after another, until something finally worked. This was the first phase of my Documentation Journey: Not knowing I needed documentation.
Part 2: Thinking Google Docs and folders will solve all my problems
Once I got a few things that worked, I decided to add some team members. This action quickly sent me into the second phase of my Documentation Journey: Realizing I needed documentation and thinking Google Docs and a Folder System would solve all my problems.
I sat down and brain-dumped. I spent days creating document after document. Then spent more time structuring a folder system to organize and store all this super valuable information.
Finally, the day came for me to introduce my hard work to the team. I gave them access to the folders and was excited to watch all their questions get answered.
Except I didn’t. I got the same amount of questions. Only this time, I spent a bunch of time creating the docs, and then my team spent a bunch of time doing two things:
- Reading and getting overwhelmed.
- Looking for the information without success because it was not in the folders they expected.
Both scenarios led my team to take the path of least resistance and ask me questions. In other words, I spent a bunch of time and didn’t solve any problems.
Part 3: Needing a platform dedicated to documentation management
I finally made it to the third phase of my Documentation Journey: Discovering that a solution designed for documentation is what I needed.
Some lucky few end their journey here. They research and find a platform that achieves all their goals and live happily ever after.
Meanwhile, everyone else ends up with a platform that gets them maybe 50% of the way there. And this is exactly where I ended up.
I found a great knowledge base solution and organized my documentation into bite-size pieces. I could more easily share this knowledge with the teams and people that needed it the most.
Overall, this was a significant improvement but still left some major issues on the table:
- Everything still started with a blank page, so items stored in the knowledge base were just miniature text-heavy documents instead of full-size docs, making them hard to skim.
- The team had to log into the knowledge base platform to use it, which meant yet another platform for them to learn.
- There was no way for the team to provide feedback or request new items to be added.
- The knowledge base was still structured like a folder system, meaning that a knowledge base article could only be found in a single folder.
Part 4: Finding the right solution
In the final part of my journey, I was determined to find a solution for storing and sharing company knowledge that actually works. I spent about 12 months testing various platforms and formats.
Long story short, most platforms on the market seemed to be variations of writing a document and then having functionality wrapped around how it’s stored (most are also folder-system based). However, testing out formats and coming up with a unique combination of structures that worked best turned out to be highly beneficial and ultimately led me to create a platform to solve this problem: Arvo (askarvo.com).
With the creation of Arvo, we’ve been able to complete the journey to successful documentation of company knowledge. And now, I’m on a new journey as I work to scale up this platform and build a fantastic team around it.
I wish you all the best on your journeys!