40% of a project is dedicated to documentation3 min read

The conceptual image or collage about many of crumpled papers on the desk of stressed male workplace

For over a year now, we have been interrogating more than 200 companies about their documentation activities. Help us to better understand how to document a project by taking part in our study.

Let’s dive into this number: 40%.

? Contribute to our Study of documentation on business projects.

40%. How to consider it?
Is it a lot? Is it little?
There are two ways to consider it:

  • from a company developing a product or a service point of view
  • from a company externalizing all the development point of view

The developing company point of view

40% is a lot!
Only 60% of the project’s duration remains to actually create the service or the product.

Obviously the documentation activity is spread all along the project. It’s only when it’s completed that we noticed it took 40% of the project lifespan.
During our study, we found out that it could easily be reduced by half: so much time is lost because of numerous items bringing inertia. Here are some of those we identified:

  • The lack of knowledge management
    It is difficult to collect, with an intent to reuse, all the pieces of knowledge or the innovative ideas occurring during a project that would be very helpful for another.
  • The too long validation workflows
    All the documents peer reviews, validating that the content is meeting the quality criteria before delivery, require the availability of all the reviewers in the close time-frames. But all those agenda are rarely aligned.
  • The turnover impacts
    The collaborators come and go on a project, but they all need some amount of time to get familiarized with it before being operational.
  • The incomplete customer need assessment
    The customer’s need definition still requires several exchanges before the project can kick-off.
  • Loss of traceability
    The links bounding the customer’s need and the product became more and more complex and numerous. So it takes more time to maintain their traceability up to date.
  • The frequent work meeting
    Lots of meetings with many stakeholders to settle details.
  • Communication issues
    With the customer rarely available or within the project team, the difficult communication slows down the progression.
  • Lack of documentation quality
    All the elements above exhort to rush the documentation to accelerate de development. Consequently the design and planning of the project, by means of documentation, suffer from a lack of quality which is self-powered.

The externalizing company point of view

Less frequently, we have been told such a proportion of documentation is too little.

This phenomenon is to be found at corporates whom externalize the whole product realization to suppliers. But only realization because they keep all the management. Therefore for those companies, a project consists in producing all the documentation : request for proposal, project perimeters, specifications, validation plans

To all the previously listed time consuming items, we can add the following:

  • The corpus size
    The astronomical documentation quantity to provide to the suppliers but also to the higher hierarchy level (the direction).
  • The stress and frustration
    Some collaborators are no longer employed for the task they have been hired to but only to write project’s documentation and delegate the work. Sometimes, because of the deadlines, they even have to write about an expertise they don’t master.

? Contribute to our Study of documentation on business projects.

We will continue to share with you the results of our study. But for that, do not hesitate to give us your point of view in the comment and participate to the survey!

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