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I work in a production company as a design engineer. There is a culture in my company of not documenting things, there are few standards, barely any routines and no documentation system. There is a server space known simply as "the black hole" where everything is stored, finding something in there is more up to luck than anything else.
I served a few years in the air-force so I am familiar with mickey-mouse operations, after my tour I deviced a simple system based on the dewey decimal classification which I use to sort my files and organize the areas I am responsible for. I am at the same time building a simple wiki where I document my work, all reports and what not so if I am away or on vacation one of my colleagues can step in and help out if the need arises. My system is not perfect, but it provides means of cross-references, and finding individual files easily. They are sorted by type (Report, test-procedure, calculations etc.) and given a unique id-number. It works well in a group with limited understanding of databases.
Now the problem steams from a customer I am responsible for, they demand very stringent documentation, they are not satisfied by the explanation:
We have always done it like this, it works!
They require a level of documentation that is not readily present in the company. My superiors promises things that we are good at but we can't show it easily. Test reports, periodical checks etc. are written for someone who is familiar with the product and the documents require enormous amount of work to be presentable to a third party.
I have lifted this with my superiors on a number of occations pointing out the problems that will inevitably come from a lack of proper documentation.
It took me a week to find the documentation of one of the most critical operations in production. We have been doing it for years but no-one knew why, it wasn't until I needed to prove to my customer that we knew what we were doing that we could find the initial test results.
Don't get me wrong, I love working here. The people are great, my tasks intresting and exiting and we produce mean products. Career-wise I would have a hard time finding something better.
But, the lack of proper documentation and continuity is a serious problem. I will speak with my superiors again after the summer vacations. I have prepared a short slide presentation presenting the problem, how much it time is needed to find test results/etc and how the continuity is hurt (design engineer leaves/sick/etc). I have made rough cost estimations and I present them with my wiki, which isn't pretty but it is easy to navigate and find what you need.
What else should I keep in mind or prepare?
The question I would like answered is what kind considerations I should keep in mind when arguing for the need of an organized and maintainable company documentation standard/policy. It is as much why documentation should be kept as to how, now that I think of it.
We are still using blueprints from the early eighties, late seventies in our daily production, things that were drawn before I was born. Some of these are well documented, others are not, I am not looking forward to the revision of those blue prints.