Do you need documentation?

Founder, robot with feelings. From planet Aiur.

Every company needs documentation. Well... not really. Read on why.

Every company needs documentation. Well... not really.

If you're a startup griding crazy to get your MVP out and get feedback, you couldn't care less about documentation.

If you have a product out and a couple of customers, docs are not that important. You can just ask around your team across the desk or on a Slack channel.

If you found product-market fit, got your first round of funding, and are scaling your team above 10, you probably also don't need that much documentation. You can just throw hours at it because there are so many of you right now compared to 6 months ago.

If you're a series A or B company with a couple of Ms in ARR, documentation starts to look attractive, but you can go without, no doubt.

If you just IPO'd, you're past 500 people. So much tribal knowledge lingering around... documentation is a problem, but there are workarounds. Just throw more salespeople into the picture. Revenue fixes everything.

But actually... your path was the most inefficient one possible, and documentation could've had the largest impact you could think of:

1. clearing misunderstandings among team members;

2. making the founders' vision clearer to themselves and to the whole company;

3. faster customer support answers;

4. faster or automated onboarding of new members;

5. less knowledge churn;

6. increased engineering productivity;

7. more stable run through the years;

8. less hassle in becoming a remote company when a virus hits out of nowhere.

I could go on... but you already know it. Documentation is how we build things.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is documentation important for startup companies?
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If you're a startup working intensely to get your Minimum Viable Product (MVP) out and gather feedback, documentation might seem less important.
What is the perceived need for documentation as a company grows?
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As a company grows, adding team members or receiving more funding, the need for documentation might still be overlooked. Larger companies might focus on sales strategies over documentation to fix problems.
What are the benefits of having company documentation?
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Company documentation can have multiple benefits. These include creating clarity among team members, clarifying the founders' vision, faster customer support answers, facilitating new member onboarding, reducing knowledge churn, increasing engineering productivity, ensuring stability over the years, and easing the transition to a remote company during emergencies.
At what point do companies normally start to focus on documentation?
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Companies typically start to look at documentation as attractive when they are a series A or B company with a couple of millions in Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR), though it is still often seen as optional. However, It becomes more of a necessity when a company has gone public and grown to over 500 people.
What is the overall impact of documentation on a company?
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Documentation can have a significant positive impact on a company, making processes more efficient and improving communications. It can be a pivotal tool in how we build things within an organization.

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