Documentation is under-appreciated.

Marketers are running against time. We all need to launch campaign X by time Y.

Documentation often becomes an afterthought. A nice-to-have. It’s often neglected as less critical than getting a campaign executed.

However, in my experience, documentation is a discipline that’s important for every marketer to master.

Marketing is a knowledge-based sport. Documentation is key to capturing that knowledge and helps make all of our future efforts easier, better, and more effective.

What does documentation mean?

Documentation is the asynchronous capture of communication – specifically, discussions held and decisions made.

It’s not a replacement of live discussions, but a supplement. Documentation drives clarity, transparency, and decision making.

Documentation can take whatever form that suits you. Any format – a project brief, meeting minutes, status update – and located anywhere – Google Docs, Asana, Confluence, email – as long as it carries useful information that you can easily share with your team.

Why is documentation important?

It’s an effective time-saver for everyone

The bigger the organization you work in, the more decisions are being made every day (up and down the chain).

It’s impossible for everyone to keep up with every discussion and decision made within the business. We all have personal lives outside of work!

You may ask:”Does everyone need to know about every single decision?“.

Well, not necessarily. It depends on your organization’s work/management style and the trust the business puts on its teams.

Having said that, decisions should always be easily referenced. Especially those that relate to business outcomes, because that’s what business leaders care about.

And documentation, even if just a meeting minute, serves that purpose.

It builds credibility in your work

Documentation creates trust.

Trust from your peers and managers that thought was put into every single detail of your work.

Whether it’s a statement of the problem you are trying to solve, explicitly surfacing challenges that you’re facing and how you plan to overcome them, or calling out explicit business outcomes expected from a project.

All of these details underpin the work.

It’s a managerial responsibility

If you’ve ever gone through formal management training, you would know that documentation is 101 skill for any manager.

Why?

Because it captures (potentially subjective) thoughts and opinions at a particular point in time and makes them objective, through the lens of the business.

I.e., here is the information we have today; here are the insights we can take from that information; and here is the decision we’re making based on those insights.

In other words, it avoids a situation of needing to reconstruct your thought process months down the line when defending or explaining a decision reached.

Summary

Documentation alone is not going to make or break your career.

But in my view, it is a critical skill to master, especially if you are a knowledge worker.

There is a saying in Sales – if it’s not in Salesforce, it didn’t happen.

I believe a similar principle applies to marketing and other disciplines, just in different forms of documentation.