“Well, it sounds good on paper….”

I previously outlined a number of items that I feel are required for documentation to be effective. The first on that list was that documentation must be easily accessible. Documentation without accessibility is the same as no documentation at all.

Previous to the digital age, the vendor-provided hardbound manual and ring binder full of three-hole punched paper was what you had to have. They were cumbersome, clumsy, and had a tendency to attract coffee stains. But what is meant by accessible?

  1. ac·ces·si·ble/akˈsesəbəl/Adjective

    1. (of a place) Able to be reached or entered.

    2. (of an object, service, or facility) Able to be easily obtained or used.


How do we make documentation ‘easily obtained’? It may seem to be a no brainer, but I’m always surprised by how much information is NOT accessible. For example, how do you properly fill out an EAPM Peer Review? I’m pretty sure that it is written down somewhere. As an experiment, see how long it takes you to find the actual document. Go ahead, I’ll wait……

The Information Revolution has given way to instantaneous access to searchable information online. Quite frankly, I do not see how anybody got anything done in a reasonable amount of time without the ability to access the latest documentation on a vendor’s API. Heck, Google is the best friend of any tech worker who needs to solve a problem.

However, the search engine approach has a few issues to internal corporate networks:

  1. The information must be visible to the search engine. (I’m pretty sure that Google is not crawling around our internal network.)
  2. Control of sensitive information (Corporate Security).
  3. No internal search engine initiative.

Humana seems to use a few approaches to capture and make information accessible. eRoom is a great approach to consolidate projects, products, and area information in an organization fashion. Also, I’ve seen the rise of wiki-like sites internally (Sharepoint) to disseminate that vital information in the last few years. Some use documents on shared drives. (Talk about old fashioned!) Most business units use a combination of all three of these approaches.

There are some barriers with these approaches:

  1. Some areas have restricted access. This is perfectly acceptable and should be encouraged in some instances due to the sensitive nature of the information. But how do I share techniques across the enterprise?
  2. Not all approaches are searchable from a single point. For a thorough search of information, you would need to try multiple techniques across multiple platforms. An internal search engine initiate would be an overhead expense but could really pay dividends.
  3. Redundant information at multiple points with inconsistent updates. This can cause inaccurate or contradictory information to be propagated…Not an optimal solution. When a single, integrated and searchable platform is promoted a surge of micro-capabilities could explode across the enterprise.

Whichever approach you choose, ensure that your unit has a single point of entry for documentation platforms. That way you can promote a single point of information accessibility to the new associates.

In the next installment we look at information organization: How can I make what I write findable?

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