The “Hansel and Gretel” tenet for life in IT.

Here is a little tid-bit (pun intended) I’ve learned over the years with my life in IT. It is what I call the “Hansel and Gretel” tenet for life in IT.

“Always leave a clear trail of where you came from [so you can always find your way home]…”

I’ve burned myself over the years and several times the lesson has been learned the hard way. I think, in one form or another, we have to deal with individuals in management who are impatient. They all too often “want it now” and don’t know all the little steps and appreciate what it takes to produce quality work. Remember, we live in the Fast Food era. For someone in management, they think fixing something is as easy snapping their fingers or calling their local computer superstore geek. The challenge in documentation is that all too often we have to document well after the work has been performed.

Taking your time to produce quality work can often conflict with the demand to produce, produce, produce. In today’s world, you’d think management in all industries would step back and see where that phiolosphy has gotten us over the past 40 years. In all aspects of IT, the pay-off of quality, in the end, is good customer service. Good, clear documentation is just as important as the work you do. And it should be an integral part of what you do, not an ancillary project.

While documentation, up front, may be time consuming, in the end, it can reduce time spent in so many ways. Let’s assume you live in Los Angeles, California and you want to drive to Bangor, Maine. Let’s also assume you’ve never driven before.

So, now you have a tool and a destination. Get in and drive. Good luck getting there!

In today’s world, someone had to write the owner’s manual on your car to assist you with its operation. Someone had to write the repair manuals on your car so it could be repaired when it breaks down in the middle of the desert. Someone had to create the maps to allow you to understand which roads to take to get to your destination. Is documentation important? It sure is. More importantly, is documentation which is correct and accurate important? All the more so! Is driving a quality car that won’t break down every few hundred miles important? I hope we’ve learned that lesson by now.

Do everything you can to standardize the methods, composition and management of documentation of your IT environment. It should make sense to your entire team, be useful and not cumbersome, it should be easily passed on to the “next generation” of IT personnel who walk in the door, as well as updated and reviewed often.


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