As a member of small teams, I had significant responsibility. Whether driving progress by organizing meetings or maintaining/creating/understanding a large percentage of specific technical information, I often had such responsibilities. Sometimes I was the only person working on technical aspects of the project.
This happened on a variety of types of work. Sometimes it was programming projects as a sole coder with several non-technical people, sometimes it was analyzing or compiling technical information, and sometimes preparing technical data and presentations. Sometimes I was project lead and effectively the go-between person for all those involved.
I was really good at my responsibilities doing this and continued to get them assigned to me. I developed a niche skill-set and was enjoying work. Life was great.
Then... I got hit by a bus. Such a tragedy! It was too early to be taken from this world...
As I later floated through the hallways of my old workplace I found I had not done a good job preparing my team for my untimely departure.
No one else on the team was familiar with the tools I was using like I was. No one else understood even at a superficial level the technical information. I wanted to reach out and answer those questions - such simple questions! But alas. My disembodied spirit was doomed to float voiceless.
I was left wondering... what could I have done? What did I miss? How could I have changed things for these poor souls?
In seriousness, the above is a huge problem working in engineering. When you work on cross-functional teams it's hard to keep the rest informed about the details of what you are doing. It is easy to be a "black box" of magic for the team. Worse, you often develop/possess specific skill-sets which are not easily documented (and may involve hours upon hours of training or learning systems).
My question is:
- How should I function on a team as the sole technical contributor to avoid problems arising from my sudden departure (not necessarily only as a software developer)?
Note: I should add this is not implying anything about my future plans... but a way to make an otherwise normal question potentially more entertaining. You might get hit by a bus, have a sudden family emergency, or more realistically take a new job/promotion, get called onto a different and more urgent project, take a week vacation and not work (crazy concept), etc.