How Effective Documentation Enhances Team Productivity

Good communication is what makes teams work. Without it, people are left in the dark. They’ll fumble their way through projects, leading to a drop in productivity and an overall poor employee experience. It’s not a scenario you want to create.

Effective documentation helps set the stage for the opposite. It guides people through the tasks they’ll face, from the simple to the complex. Documentation reduces employee confusion and anxiety. Plus, it ensures knowledge doesn’t walk out the door when someone decides it’s time to leave the company. To see how documentation can enhance your team’s productivity, read on.

It Gives Employees a Leg Up 

Documentation isn’t a substitute for training. But it does provide a means of support, especially for newbies. There’s a reason employees in technical and customer support-type jobs typically have access to plenty of web-based resources.

One, it’s impossible to remember every single process step you’ve just been taught. Second, thinking through all the details in emotionally charged situations can be challenging. Third, there needs to be some semblance of consistency for the customers.

For example, technical documentation spells out the processes of installing and troubleshooting different pieces of software. It can also communicate the organization’s procedures for handling specific requests. Whether they’re new or seasoned, employees rely on these documents for clarity and to swiftly handle challenges they encounter.

Some organizations perform technical writing services in-house, but others contract them out. As long as there’s a content repository created by someone, though, employees can reduce the time they spend seeking answers on how to proceed. Documentation is another means of support and a knowledge base for continuous learning.   

It Exposes Opportunities to Increase Efficiency

Often, writing processes down can reveal opportunities to make them more efficient. As you’re outlining the steps, you might notice redundancies to eliminate. There’s the additional possibility that some steps are more like stumbling blocks. And there could be an essential detail or two left out of task documentation you’re assuming employees already know.

The last thing you want is inefficient processes, given the average person is productive for 60% or less of their workday as it is. While finishing a task can boost employee confidence, making them frustrated along the way is unproductive. Any frustration and confusion may lead to delays in starting the next assignment. And they’ll waste their time if there’s either unnecessary duplication or a lack of essential details.

The result of either process flaw could mean you’ll be unable to use their work. They might have to backtrack and perform service recovery. This situation can be uncomfortable, stressful, and embarrassing. When the documentation process reveals an improvement opportunity, consider making a change.

Potential changes can come after a process is implemented as well. If teams bring up concerns with documented workflows, listen to and evaluate their suggestions. Fixing problems now will help future employees from having to work around the same inefficiencies.

It Promotes Collaboration Between Team Members   

Content repositories with standard operating procedures encourage knowledge sharing between departments. This exchange of information makes it easier for teams to understand each other’s perspectives, helping to break down silos. Take an IT team, for example. You could have software engineers, end-user support techs, and network infrastructure technicians within this group.

Each set of employees operates like a subdepartment within the larger team. People who gain work experience in various functional areas can come together to design cohesive workflow approaches. Documentation on how tasks should flow between them will prevent misunderstandings since everyone will be on the same page. Teams exchange critical information before they tackle tasks instead of learning the hard way.

Documentation can also encourage what’s known as digital collaboration. Teams within organizations might be working remotely but need access to information another group manages. Internal data silos are the chief reason knowledge workers spend around 2.5 hours each day hunting down accurate information. Employees don’t have to waste time figuring out their next move when the data is already there. As a result, productivity naturally goes up.

It Improves Service Levels

If employees aren’t sure how to handle certain client requests, they’ll have to spend time figuring them out. The actions workers take may include reaching out to peers and leaders. However, some people might try to wing it. The reasons include being unable to reach someone with more experience and feeling pressure to find an immediate solution.

Yet another possibility is not wanting to feel or appear incompetent. Some employees will tend to avoid asking for help if they believe they should solve problems on their own. This belief may come from their background, including the cultures of their previous workplaces.

While an independent streak can serve its purposes, there are times when it can result in lower service levels. Bad information may make its way to customers, and problems could linger because employees handle them inefficiently. They either delay problem resolution because something’s unclear or attempt to tackle issues with incomplete resources. Centralized documentation accommodates independence more effectively by removing the unknowns.

Documentation’s Positive Impact on Productivity

Wasting time at work might be OK if it’s for staff celebrations and special occasions. But it’s not OK when your team loses steam because they don’t have the necessary information. Lost time on the clock impacts everything from customer service to staff morale. Thorough documentation removes the ambiguities employees might face when they’re attempting to move tasks forward. With a good content repository, teams can work in unison to meet an organization’s challenges.     

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Michael P
Los Angeles based finance writer covering everything from crypto to the markets.

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