We messed up bigtime!
At my last startup, we made a common mistake, and it almost cost us our company.
What an oversight! For a big company, it would have been bad but for our small startup, it was almost disastrous. It was a sad day when our first employee Matthew decided to move on, but we were happy for him. We threw him a going away party and wished him luck. We didn’t realize our mistake until it was too late.
You see, Matthew had been with us since the company started. He had set up a lot of the processes and services that we relied on, and in turn the whole company relied on Matthew. From setting up new web servers to the login information for our mailing list, Matthew knew it all. When he left the company, he took all that information with him because we had neglected a crucial aspect of our business - our internal documentation.
Don't get hit by a bus
Luckily for us, Matthew didn’t go too far away, and he was there for us to help smooth things out. The experience did make us realize what a problem we had on our hands. You see, it wasn't just Matthew - each of us had crucial knowledge that wasn't written down. We were all potentially a point of failure for the entire company.
So I started talking to other companies, big and small. Almost everyone I talked to had the same problem, from tiny startups with five employees to huge Fortune 500 companies with over five thousand. But what was causing the problem? Why weren’t people writing stuff down?
I dug deeper. People had all sorts of complaints about their documentation. There was the team leader who had inherited four generations of different documentation tools. There was the engineer who spent hours trying to find the steps to a process, only to end up having to recreate it himself (it was in a blog post). There was the UX engineer who had to interrupt a developer any time she needed information about a program because her company's documentation was isolated in each group.
What it boiled down to was a lack of trust. You get burned by a failed search for documentation a few times. You use some information you find, only to find it was out of date. You recreate a "known" process from scratch because you can’t find it. All of these things destroy your trust in documentation, and in turn destroy an opportunity for people to communicate and work better together.
Silvi can rebuild that trust. It is built to address the three biggest problems with most documentation: it makes information easier to create, easier to find, and easier to trust. It structures documentation for easy retrieval. It encourages you to create quality information, and it empowers the consumer of the information to ask if something is missing. It creates ownership and accountability for documentation. It centralizes documentation across an organization, enhancing cross-team communication. It helps you find stuff that might be out of date.
When I talked to her about Silvi, my friend Meg said, “No one ever got promoted for improving documentation.” She may be right. But what about giving every employee an extra hour or two a week, every week? And this value continues to grow as everyone gets comfortable with the documentation and starts thinking together.
I urge you to try Silvi. Don't be caught off guard, like we were with Matthew. More importantly, it will help you and your company function better as individuals, as teams, and as a whole.