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William McKnight

Hello and welcome to my blog!

I will periodically be sharing my thoughts and observations on information management here in the blog. I am passionate about the effective creation, management and distribution of information for the benefit of company goals, and I'm thrilled to be a part of my clients' growth plans and connect what the industry provides to those goals. I have played many roles, but the perspective I come from is benefit to the end client. I hope the entries can be of some modest benefit to that goal. Please share your thoughts and input to the topics.

About the author >

William is the president of McKnight Consulting Group, a firm focused on delivering business value and solving business challenges utilizing proven, streamlined approaches in data warehousing, master data management and business intelligence, all with a focus on data quality and scalable architectures. William functions as strategist, information architect and program manager for complex, high-volume, full life-cycle implementations worldwide. William is a Southwest Entrepreneur of the Year finalist, a frequent best-practices judge, has authored hundreds of articles and white papers, and given hundreds of international keynotes and public seminars. His team's implementations from both IT and consultant positions have won Best Practices awards. He is a former IT Vice President of a Fortune company, a former software engineer, and holds an MBA. William is author of the book 90 Days to Success in Consulting. Contact William at wmcknight@mcknightcg.com.

Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in William's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

For any well-done information management project, there exists a set of documentation.

I've recently come into many shops to help clients overcome process, organizational and technical challenges and many times documentation is non-existent.  Of course, we all know many benefits of good documentation but also know that it helps consultants be a quick-study and get straight to advice or action.

But what documentation is necessary and is it necessary if you are deploying an agile methodology?  I'll answer the first part below but my answer to documentation and agile is that yes, documentation is important in agile.  If you are going to support the system, potentially do something similar again, hire consultants or have employee turnover, you need documentation - at the appropriate times and with appropriate, not necessarily excruciating, detail. 

You also probably do not want to be the person who repeats himself repeatedly, which is what you'll do without documentation available to hand out.  Repeating oneself is hardly the most advanced use of time.

The documentation can be built with agility just like the systems, but here is a list to think about delivering (or, as the case may be, retrofitting).  It's a STARTER list for what is necessary.

  • Non Functional Requirements - Describes the environment in which the system operates
  • Decisions Capture - A place to catch all those important decisions that are made and a vehicle for making those decisions visible in the culture
  • Logical Data Model - The logical data model should not exist without narrative
  • Test Approach - Describe how the development will be tested - systems, data, user involvement, players, etc.
  • Interface Specification - Interfaces are largely what these projects are all about - either interfacing existing systems or adding multiple components that need interfacing themselves
  • Startup Plan - Day 1 of production is hardly when data can begin accruing in new information management projects; Planning for and loading the data backlog needs a plan
  • Data Access Specification - Describes how the new data being made available will be accessed by users and systems

 

Do yourself a favor.  Inventory your documentation set and make sure it's the right level for sustaining the system.


Posted September 21, 2010 11:58 AM
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