Documentation: Do or Die — Just Do It!
Don’t delegate it to someone who doesn’t actually do the task
It’s tempting to push delegation down to an administrative person; after all, your time is too valuable for such a humdrum task. Yes, your time is valuable. But there are secrets inside your head that no one else knows. How do you expect the documentation to be accurate unless you hire a mind-reader to write it up? If you are the only person who knows how to do something, you have to bite the bullet and do the work; otherwise it won’t be beneficial to the person who follows in your footsteps.
Put it in writing
Obviously, if you know you are leaving, it’s tempting to just stuff a bunch of scribbled notes or emails into a file and label it “Documentation.” But five sheets of handwritten notes labeled “how to do direct mail” and stapled together will be far less helpful than a step-by-step, written process that thinks through all the things that can go (and have gone) wrong. And chances are, that rushed “documentation” isn’t going to take you out of range when the angry thought daggers are hurled in your direction after you are gone. It’s tough to document something you can “do in your sleep,” so your challenge is to not make major leaps in logic as you write it out.
Find a way to make it interesting to you
Turn documentation into a useful exercise (for you) whenever possible. I recently started documenting some procedures for a client. Boring! But I decided to use that job as a way to learn a few new tricks in Microsoft Word. My Word skills have improved along with the creation of documentation. That may not be the answer for you, but figure out what will motivation you. “A latte every time I finish three tasks” is not self-bribery; it’s a reward for doing a mundane but critical task.
Pamela consults with nonprofits, helping them develop their fundraising strategy and writing copy to achieve their goals. Additionally, she teaches fundraising at two universities, hoping to inspire the next generation of fundraisers to be passionate about the profession. Previously, Pamela led the fundraising programs for nonprofit organizations. Pamela is a member of the Advisory Panel for Rogare, the fundraising think tank at Plymouth University’s Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, a CFRE, a graduate of Wheaton College (IL) and Dominican University, and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from California Southern University. Contact Pamela at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.