Why are systems like Cognos TM1 so sophisticated yet documentation remains poor? I recently wrote a blog post regarding managing Cognos TM1 with effective documentation and the significant importance it holds. Specifically, managing the complexity of TM1 solutions. In this guest blog post, I will elaborate on the overarching value of systems documentation within your company.
Good systems documentation will help you and your organisation perform better when it can be used effectively as the basis for making decisions, answering queries that you may have and keeping you up to speed with developments. What's more, it can give you a level of confidence while carrying out your plans and comfort in your actions. Documentation, structured the right way really can help streamline your operation, save time & costs and ultimately lead to better quality outcomes.
The importance of good documentation can be understood by answering these key questions
- Would you fly an aircraft without a navigational system?
- Would you make alterations to your house without first reviewing the plans?
- Would you run your company and its multi-million dollar decisions based off systems that you don't fully understand and cannot validate nor interrogate?
You should be able to think of your systems documentation as your trusted advisor - one which guides you through both your day to day and periodic tasks and gives you the necessary assurances that you are making the right decisions and that your systems are giving you the correct results. Can you say that about your current set of documentation?
With that said, what exactly is good documentation? There are significant problems with a lot of the documentation that is written to date and there are several challenges that need to be overcome to really make documentation effective. This is particularly true for systems that are complex, change frequently or are heavily customised.
Some of the key challenges include
- Keeping document complete and up to date
- Ensuring that information is timely and easy to find
- Keeping documentation accurate, intuitive and focused
Overcoming these challenges can be difficult as good documentation is an art form which is not always easy to get right. What’s more, ensuring quality and timeliness will usually incur a significant investment in time in costs not to mention great discipline.
In order to solve the documentation problem we need to take more of a systems approach. It is not always practical nor beneficial to create, update and maintain documentation manually. Instead we need to create documentation solutions that automate where possible and deliver the same kind of rich interactivity that we see in our systems today - with multiple modes of communication (tables, visualisations, etc) and the ability to easily filter out the noise and get to the information that we require… and quickly!
About the Author
Michael Mackie is the Technology and Solutions Manager at Mindfull New Zealand. Michael has been working with Business Analytics solutions for 10 years and is one of the founders of QUBEdocs, an automated documentation and model management solution. Michael is always looking for smarter and simpler ways of solving business problems through technology.