The Legend of the Engineering Documentation Hunter

Ah, the engineer. The engineer is an elusive and majestic creature capable of amazing feats of creativity, ingenuity, and skill with the tap of a keyboard. Watching an engineer operate in their natural environment can be quite an impressive display.

The only problem with these majestic beasts is when we fail to document their movements. After all, how can we hope to harness their abilities if we know nothing of their characteristics, movements, and body of work? Luckily, there is an answer: documentation.

Having a strong, capable engineering team is a huge asset to any company. The amount of work and knowledge that comes out of a solid group is remarkable. The only drawback comes when these things are not documented. Instead of getting things done efficiently and effectively, too much time is used up trying to track down cause and solution. That’s what makes strong, reliable engineering documentation so important.

Return on Investment

We all know that the bottom line is everything. In today’s market, we all want to find a way to save cost while increasing performance. There are many ways that the ROI can be shown, but we will focus on two here:

  1. Technical support prevention. If an engineer or engineers complete a job, you want to know that someone can drive when the keys are handed over. That’s where the documentation comes in. Solid end-user documentation or technical data gives the customer somewhere to turn for help. As long as the procedures, processes, and systems are documented properly, everything is within reach and easily attainable without the added cost of pulling an engineer back in.
  2. Strong documentation makes more difficult tasks a one-person job. The last thing you want is too many people working on what you thought was a simple task. If documentation is in place and accessible, there are no extra hands or minds involved. In less time than it would take to try and track down someone to answer a question, the individual performing the task can track down his answers and keep moving forward, keeping the task in a proper perspective, man-hour wise.

 

If you didn’t say it, you didn’t do it

Another reason is even more tangible. There have been many important events and inventions in history, and there is a simple reason we know about them. That is, these events were documented. If no one said it, it never happened.

The same can be said of technical work. Even if the best group of engineers in the country comes in and cranks out work for you, would it matter if you had no idea what they did? If they left and no one knew what they built or how to use it, it would be lost. Engineering documentation makes sure that there is visibility to the work and to the procedures and processes that are there for you to take advantage of that work.

What it looks like

Technical Documentation can come in many forms. There are User Guides, Testing Procedures, Standard Operating Procedures, architecture, and many others. But you should know it when you see it. When the work is finished, you should recognize the associated documentation on site. It should be consistent in look, feel, and voice. When you pick that document up, you should know what it is for and where it came from as soon as you look at it.

But most important is that you should be able to use it without help. Great documentation is designed to be stand-alone. It should not generate a call, it should prevent calls. It should not cause more confusion, it should answer the questions. It should be clear and precise to be easily accessible, easy to navigate, and easy to digest and apply. If it is not any of these things, why use it in the first place?

Where this leaves you

There is no doubt that having an industry-leading set of engineers do work for you will send you to the front of your industry. But much like a Loch Ness Monster sighting, seeing is believing. Grainy footage shot through a screen door at 2 miles is ok for building intrigue. But are you willing to bet your livelihood on it? Whether you are creating cutting-edge software, systems, or processes or you are hunting legendary creatures, the proof is in the pudding. And in our industry, that means the most solid documentation in the business.

Saying you saw some amazing engineering feats are great. But having the proof, now that is what makes history.

 

Top 5 Reasons to Work for a Small Business

When I left my last position at a billion dollar organization after 10 years, I was scared. I mean straight-up, shaking-in-my-britches scared! I questioned what I was doing, and it was quite the leap of faith. How could a small business with a start-up attitude possibly offer the same opportunities and challenges that I had enjoyed at a large company? I started at Kinney Group in 2013 and I had the opportunity to address those fears face-to-face. Luckily, my vision of working at a small business was wrong. I want to run down my top 5 reasons to work for a small business, based on what the business world is saying and from what I have grown to love in my time with Kinney Group:

 

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1. Familiarity

With your peers, with other departments, and strategic direction for the company. It’s just like the show, Cheers! “Where everybody knows your name and you’re always glad you came!”

2. Advancement

When the company grows, you grow. Your opportunities for advancement with personal and professional development are endless. And, there is never a shortage of trailblazing type work to do. Wear many hats, both to meet business needs, and to figure out how you might want to advance.

3. Scotch tape

The only tape you’ll find is useful. No more red tape.

4. Access

Kinney Group cannot give you VIP access into the coolest clubs in town, but you will get into the office of the CEO, face-to-face, and on a regular basis.

5. Flexibility

In my experience, small businesses offer more variety in flexible scheduling options and more agility to make special work accommodations for individuals and families (if you need a reference, just ask my 8-year-old).

 

The most important factor to consider in your next job search is what makes you happy. The reality is that most people spend more time at work than they do at home, so why not fully enjoy the people, challenges, and environment? I have found a small business environment to be a better fit for me than I had ever imagined before. Additionally, I have personally witnessed success stories of colleagues and peers in the community to feel the same. Whatever happens with your job search, I hope that you will find what it is that makes you professionally happy, too.