How do you foster a culture of documentation?

Session Category :  Talk 
May 26, 2017
16:45  -  17:30

Documentation is still the most important thing developers continually respond as most affecting their decision making. Frankly caring about documentation shows you care about the developer, whether external or internal. Yet, documentation is constantly pushed to the wayside, aligning that idea with Waterfall and top-down development. How do you then foster a culture that gets your developers excited to create documentation? And as an extension, how do you get your developers excited about pleasing their customers?

Start out by automating what you can and then creating a process. Documentation is something that requires discipline. It’s up to your team to identify what interruptions are constantly being pointed to as excuses for not completing the documentation. Then, you can put an investment into your documentation, looking to first solve and reduce those interruptions, making documentation the way you address repeated issues and make your customers more autonomous.

Documentation is actually particularly important to the Scrum process, where “documented” is part of the definition of “Done.” Documentation can also be a good team-building exercise as it invites everyone to take ownership of their own piece. It also keeps everyone cognizant of keeping the code itself simple and self-explanatory. And it’s especially important for team communication and collaboration as, with microservices, containers and the like, our developers gain autonomy, but there’s a struggle to work out loud so you know what everyone else is doing.

Finally, someone should be in charge of managing the documentation — someone with a tech background but some marketing savviness — to curate it all, helping to make sure it’s there and that it tells a clear story that’s easy to search through, but that also supports the overall business proposition.