Importance of Documentation | The Workstream (2024)

Importance of Documentation | The Workstream (1)

Your team is starting a project that’s new to all of you. You heard through the grapevine that your company successfully tackled something similar just a couple of years ago. The only problem? Nobody on your current team was actually around during that time.

Those people have since moved on, and now you’re left wondering how to bridge this knowledge gap. It feels an awful lot like closing your eyes and throwing a dart at a board.

Now, imagine instead if you had resources that you could turn to. What if that previous team had kept detailed records like project timelines and plans, meeting summaries, step-by-step processes, sketches, roadmaps, and more?

If that was the case, you’d be equipped with a well of valuable information that you could draw from. Even if you ended up doing things somewhat differently, at least you’d feel like you had an educated starting point. Suddenly that new project wouldn’t seem quite so daunting.

This is just one of many examples that speak to the importance of documentation on your team. Yet, despite the fact that stressful situations like these happen all the time, many organizations still view documentation as an optional formality. According to a BPTrends survey, only 4% of companies claim that they always document their processes.

Only 4% of companies always document their processes

We get it – documentation feels like yet another thing to add to your team’s to-do list. However, it offers a slew of advantages that make it well worth the time and effort.

What is internal documentation?

Internal documentation refers to the records that your organization keeps and uses to inform decisions within your company. You can document pretty much anything from schedules to important policies, which means there are tons of different types of documentation out there. But, they tend to fall into one of three main types of documentation: team documentation, reference documentation, and project documentation.

The importance of documentation (i.e. why should you care about this?)

We get it. You are busy, which means recording things like decisions, statuses, and steps for handling repetitive tasks probably doesn’t rank near the top of your to-do list.

When the rubber hits the road, documentation will be one of those things that you’ll be glad that you did. Whether a team member is unexpectedly absent or you aren’t sure how to move forward with an unfamiliar initiative, those records will be an undeniably handy resource.

Need more help convincing your team? Here are a few key benefits you can share to illustrate why documentation should be a priority moving forward.

1. A single source of truth saves time and energy

Estimates state that the average knowledge worker spends about two and a half hours per day searching for the information they need. Effective documentation collects all of the must-know information about a task, project, or team (from account logins to step-by-step instructions) in a centralized, organized place. No more digging through email or downloaded files for the latest information.

When you’re handing off a task, planning for a new project, or need to have a different team member step in on something, documentation means you’re able to keep the gears turning without spending hours trying to track down details, credentials, directions, and more.

Writing down your processes is helpful for spotting bottlenecks and bloated workflows, so you can further streamline the way your team works.

2. Documentation is essential to quality and process control

There’s more than one way to get things done, and you want to give your team the flexibility to approach their work in a way that suits them best.

But, at the same time, you want to ensure consistent results – especially when it comes to things that you’re producing on a regular basis. There needs to be some level of cohesion so that you don’t look sloppy or uninformed.

Documentation encourages knowledge sharing, which empowers your team to understand how processes work and what finished projects typically look like.

With those resources in hand, your team members don’t need to be mind readers to maintain consistency of repeated projects like that monthly report or that quarterly presentation. They still have wiggle room to get creative while confirming that they’re checking all of the must-have boxes.

3. Documentation cuts down duplicative work

How many times have you started a new project only to find out it had been done before? Companies that use documentation to catalog past projects, collect research, and share decisions benefit by reducing re-work that wastes precious time you could be using elsewhere.

Why reinvent the wheel when you can just build on the work that’s already happened? With documentation in place, you can refer to past work and learn from it, instead of doing it all over again with the same results.

4. It makes hiring and onboarding so much easier

It’s tough to think about anybody leaving, but the reality of business is that your team won’t stay the same forever. People will hit the road and you’ll bring some new people into the fold.

When you’re welcoming new team members, that onboarding period can be daunting, both for your existing team and for that new employee. And, unfortunately, Gallup found that only 12% of employees strongly agree that their organization does a great job of onboarding new workers.

You want to educate and empower team members to do their best work, rather than making them feel like they’re thrown to the wolves.

If you prioritize documentation, they’ll have all sorts of helpful guides, directions, and notes that they can refer to as they get up to speed in their new roles. Plus, they can use those resources to answer their questions and start to figure things out independently, rather than feeling like they need to ping someone on your team with every single question or sticking point.

5. A single source of truth makes everyone smarter

At work, we tend to treat our knowledge as currency. If we’re the person with all of the answers, it provides us a sense of security,as if we’re the most irreplaceable person on our team. We assume that sharing our expertise will make us less valuable.

That’s why it’s little surprise that one survey found that 60% of employees have had a difficult time getting their colleagues to share information that is vital to their work.

Documentation increases the collective knowledge of everyone that you work with. When it becomes the norm on your team to share information, you’ll benefit from increased transparency and a culture that’s more collaborative and strategic. You’ll make smarter decisions because essential information won’t be locked away on just one person’s hard drive - or worse yet - their head.

Documentation should be your best friend

From covering an unexpected departure or absence of an employee to tackling an unfamiliar project, you’ll be able to make it over plenty of daunting hurdles together.

While it might sound stiff and formal, prioritizing documentation means you and your team will develop a stockpile of information that you’ll lean on.

Share the above advantages with your team members, find a way to incentivize their participation in documenting what they can (pizza party, anyone?), and rest easy knowing that your team’s knowledge will no longer live just in their brains.

Importance of Documentation | The Workstream (2024)


What is the importance of documentation answers? ›

Proper documentation allows the reader to understand clearly what they are reading and provides them with the factual information they need to make decisions or take appropriate actions. A written document should not require further explanation of what the document is reporting.

Why is documentation important important? ›

Documentation is essential to quality and process control

There needs to be some level of cohesion so that you don't look sloppy or uninformed. Documentation encourages knowledge sharing, which empowers your team to understand how processes work and what finished projects typically look like.

What is the importance of documentation in field work? ›

Proper documentation helps you organize your notes and data. It also adds validity to your work, gives credit to others in your field, and makes it easier to share your research with others. No matter where you are in your career, build a habit of documenting every piece of research you acquire.

Why it is important that documentation is completed accurately? ›

Why documentation accuracy matters. Capturing detail and specificity helps those industries heavily reliant on documentation better manage compliance, reporting, and in the instance of law enforcement, bring criminals to justice. Documentation is a powerful communications tool.

What are the four important points of documentation? ›

The four kinds of documentation are:
  • learning-oriented tutorials.
  • goal-oriented how-to guides.
  • understanding-oriented discussions.
  • information-oriented reference material.

What are three purposes of documentation? ›

Among the most common of these goals are to establish a relationship, to create trust and credibility, and to document actions.

What are the five reasons for documentation? ›

So what are the main reasons for documenting?
  • Communication: Client documentation is an effective method of sharing information amongst staff and other service providers. ...
  • Assessment: ...
  • Continuity of Care: ...
  • Shared Knowledge: ...
  • Legal Requirements: ...
  • Continuous Quality Improvement: ...
  • Funding: ...
  • Physical Evidence:

What is documentation and its purpose? ›

Documentation is any communicable material that is used to describe, explain or instruct regarding some attributes of an object, system or procedure, such as its parts, assembly, installation, maintenance and use.

What are the benefits of documented information? ›

Benefits of Documented Information:

Process owners are updated about management's expectations. Communication with Employee, Customer, Supplier & Third Party becomes effective. Reliability of the process enhances.

What is the most important principle of documentation? ›

Your documentation must be precise and coherent so others can understand. Vague and obscure documentations can lead to misinterpretation. Documentation should be specific and individualized to each client. Your documentation should balance being comprehensive and concise.

Is the most important rule of documentation? ›

The most important rule of good documentation is for it to be as inviting as possible. This means that we should aim to write it in the clearest terms possible without skipping over any steps. We should avoid making assumptions about what our users may know.

What is one important part of good documentation? ›

Documentation should demonstrate and support contemporaneous record-keeping (documents need to be date and time stamped when they are created and updated). This ensures the history of design, development, testing and production decision making around end products can be traced and audited if and when necessary.

What are the 5 principles of good documentation? ›

For documentation to support the delivery of safe, high-quality care, it should: Be clear, legible, concise, contemporaneous, progressive and accurate.

What are the 5 C's of documentation? ›

To introduce you to this world of academic writing, in this chapter I suggest that you should focus on five hierarchical characteristics of good writing, or the “5 Cs” of good academic writing, which include Clarity, Cogency, Conventionality, Completeness, and Concision.

What is an effective documentation? ›

Effective documentation refers to the collection, storage, dissemination and efficient use of information in relation to fundraising and communication.

What are the six purpose of documentation? ›

This study identifies six roles documents play in professionals' work, namely that documents serve: (1) as personal work files, (2) as reminders of things to do, (3) to share information with some yet withhold it from others, (4) to convey meaning, (5) to generate new meaning, and (6) to mediate contacts among people.

What are three elements of good documentation? ›

The importance of clear, concise, and organized documentation reflects the hallmark of quality social work services and often serves as the mode of communication between a social worker, other professionals and clients.

What are the principles of documentation? ›

Seven Principles of Effective Documentation
  • Write from the reader's point of view (and know who your readers are). ...
  • Avoid unnecessary repetition. ...
  • Avoid ambiguity (and explain your notation). ...
  • Use a standard organization. ...
  • Record rationale. ...
  • Keep docs current, but not too current. ...
  • Review the documentation.
Jul 17, 2017

What are the advantages of documentation and reporting? ›

Documents and reports play a vital role in the successful development and management of any organisation. Consistent business reporting ensures compliance procedures are adhered to, decision makers have the best information available and company performance can be monitored, analysed and improved.

Why is it important to record and document information? ›

Good recordkeeping can be your proof that you have made considered decisions and taken appropriate actions. Records become your protection if you are questioned or challenged. Without them, you are at risk. Good recordkeeping can not only protect you but can support your organisation in legal or other challenges.

What are three benefits of document management systems? ›

Eight Benefits of Document Management Systems (DMS)
  • Reduces Costs.
  • Improves Workflow.
  • Better Collaboration.
  • Advanced Search.
  • Reduces Storage Space.
  • Easier Retrieval.
  • Enhanced Security.
  • Disaster Recovery.

What is the golden rules of documentation? ›

Remember the Golden Rule: If it isn't documented, then it wasn't performed. Reviewers do not know the services provided if there is no documentation.

What is the importance of documentation in healthcare? ›

Good documentation promotes patient safety and quality of care. Complete and accurate medical recordkeeping can help ensure that your patients get the right care at the right time. At the end of the day, that's what really matters. Good documentation is important to protect you the provider.

What is the importance of documentation in nursing process? ›

Nursing documentation is essential for clinical communication. Documentation provides an accurate reflection of nursing assessments, changes in clinical state, care provided and pertinent patient information to support the multidisciplinary team to deliver individualised care.

How important is documentation in nursing? ›

Documentation is utilized to determine the severity of illness, the intensity of services, and the quality of care provided upon which payment or reimbursem*nt of health care services is based. Data from documentation provides information about patient characteristics and care outcomes.

What is the main purpose of the document? ›

The purpose of a document is to facilitate the transfer of information from its author to its readers. It is the author's job to design the document so that the information it contains can be interpreted accurately and efficiently.

How does documentation improve patient outcomes? ›

The most important benefit of documentation in healthcare is that it can improve the quality of patient care. When doctors have the patient's complete medical history in front of them, they can make better decisions regarding diagnosis and treatment.

Why is documentation important as it relates to Hipaa? ›

Documentation shows that you took actions to comply with the HIPAA privacy and security rules. In the event of an audit, you will have to supply documentation to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to demonstrate your compliance. The OCR may ask for many types of documentation, so you must have everything on hand.

What are two reasons that documentation is beneficial? ›

What are two reasons that documentation is beneficial? More complete communication in emergencies, more accurate assessments, and improved services to the person.

What is the most important document and why? ›


The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States. It is the source of all government powers but provides important limitations on the government that protect the fundamental rights of U.S. citizens.

How does documentation affect patient care? ›

Clinical documentation is the foundation of a patient's medical record. It captures patient care from admission to discharge, including diagnoses, treatment and resources used during their care.

What are the examples of documentation in nursing? ›

Examples of Nursing Documentation
  • Nursing Progress Notes.
  • Narrative Nursing Notes.
  • Problem-Oriented Nursing Notes.
  • Charting By Exception Nursing Notes.
  • Nursing Admission Assessment.
  • Nursing Care Plans.
  • Graphic Sheets.
  • Medication Administration Records (MARs)

Why is documentation important in vital signs? ›

Documentation of vital signs is important for monitoring a patient's physiological condition and how vital signs are presented in a clinical record can have a profound impact on the ability of clinicians to recognise changes, such as deterioration in a patient's condition.


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