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Rapid JAD Principle – Document Once

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Time & Money

Background

I had just finished one of my development planning meetings and I sat down at my desk to document the minutes. I was transcribing from my written notes along with recall from memory the important points, agreements, and action items. An hour and a half later I had documented everything that took place in the one hour meeting. I sent the minutes out to all participants and interested parties for review and comment. The year was 2001 and I vowed to stop this silly practice.

Putting together meeting minutes and notes from a meeting then sending them to all participants and interested parties is a fairly common practice. It is important to document:

    • Decisions made
    • Reasons for going with one option over another
    • Action items
    • Distribution to interested parties

What I vowed not to do was repeat the process. And should feedback come regarding the minutes, work on them again and send out corrections. Yes, I put an end to this as well.

There is an easier and more accurate way to do all of these things. A way that does not waste time documenting the same thing twice. Thus was born the principle of Document Once.

Document Once

I now schedule all of my meetings in a room with a projector and bring in hand my portable laptop. As the meeting progresses along the agenda, participants discuss the topics and do something new. The participants now watch and read all of my documentation as the meeting moves along. If there is any correction to be made, it is done on the spot.

Participation in these meetings becomes more active as participants names and their ideas are put down in the minutes. People want to contribute, even the quite people, and now their ideas and key points on various topics are documented with their name as the contributor. Documented for all interested parties to read at a later time. Accuracy, oh yes! People will not let you document their name next to something that is not accurate. They speak up immediately to let you know if the documentation is not accurate or if clarifying additions are needed. When diagrams and wireframes are involved, they are updated on the spot.

No Corrections

This practice ensures accuracy. At the end of meeting or immediately afterwards the minutes and any attachments are sent to all interested parties. Included is the message, “Attached are the minutes and documents from today’s meeting. If there are corrections to be made, you should have spoken up during the meeting.”

Document Once is a principle to try and follow so that you are not doing the same thing twice. Doing things twice wastes valuable time and time has a cost. It is better to use your time in more high level thinking and problem solving than repeating documentation of things which could have been documented once.

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By Greg Swearingen

Greg Swearingen’s been designing and building business applications for over 19 years and providing training for over 28. Applying his skill from the early days of Netscape Navigator to today's mobile environment he stays up on the best of the best. While having designed and developed numerous software systems over the years, he is most proud of the award received for software developed and used to help those deployed during Operating Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Greg continues to develop, train, and he tweets @gergnotes.