These days, everyone is in a hurry to finish their projects and move on to the next one. In most cases, documentation is the last thing they think about – if they think of it at all. More often than not, it’s ignored completely or becomes “something you’ll get around to later.” Well, “later” all too frequently means there’s a good chance you’ll forget to do it – or that you’ll forget something important once you get around to doing it. But if you don’t document the changes you made then the next person working on the project has to reverse engineer everything to see why the last change was made.
It’s a good idea to keep track of and document any changes you make to a system, whether it’s for the next person or even you yourself. It costs time and money each time someone has to determine what was changed and whether it affected something else in the system. If someone has added something new, it helps to know what space is available for hardware, wiring, communication, and even hard disk space. And remember that trouble shooting becomes very difficult unless you understand what was added and determine if the new change affected the last change or the original program.
Remember: the job is not done until you’ve updated the documentation. The person you may be helping could be yourself years down the road when you’re asked to fix or add something new to the system.
At a bare minimum, mark up your design drawings or make notes to leave with the system; if there’s a problem, someone else will be able to see and understand the changes made. This will free the next guy from having to trace the wires or sift through the code to find out what was added or changed.
Documentation helps the next troubleshooters, even if they do not know the system. And remember, that person could be you.