My suggestion to every company is to document anything and everything: discussions, decisions, projects, developments, numbers, etc. It should become a habit and culture. The main benefits are:
• No one has to rely on his own or anybody else’s memory. It is humanly impossible to remember forever everything that you said, decided, thought and executed. This will help avoid many conflicts.
• There is a lot more clarity in things when they are written than when you hear them or think about them.
• The documented material can be referred to by the same or different people in future to understand what had been done earlier.
• It will keep various people and verticals informed about a particular project.
• Whatever has been recorded can be further elaborated on, rather than allow the same thoughts to keep churning in your head. Documentation allows future leaders to know the method and the philosophy by which the company was run earlier.
Documentation can be used for different stuff, such as task management; meetings; calls; product scope; development plan; project/initiative scope; tracking any of these; and numbers. Out of all these, I would lay the most stress on documenting the details and development plans of product/business initiatives, mainly because of the complexity and the level of detail that might be needed.
Things you should not do : All of us would have a task list and a list of things which we need to do. The one thing which you might not have is a list of ‘Things You Should Not Do’. Important as it is to have a clear understanding of what you need to do in order to become successful, it is equally necessary to have a list of things that you should not do, in order to become successful. This list could contain some obvious mistakes made by companies in your domain, category and industry; ‘don’ts’ which you might have in your own book; mistakes you or the company have made in the past; things which can cause blunders in the company, whether it is in a process, product or department; and mistakes other companies have made in similar areas. You will be pleasantly surprised to see how useful such a document can be to you and for the overall smooth running of your company.
Priority list document: Every entrepreneur should have a document which gives the priorities and the tasks in hand of all the verticals in the company and of the start-up as a whole. This document should be made available to every employee. It should also contain the CEO’s focus items.
Company journal: This might not sound like a very helpful suggestion at the beginning of your journey, but after many years have gone by, this will seem like something you should have done in the past. I am assuming here that you would be maintaining a monthly MIS of your business. Along with that, you should maintain a monthly journal, in which you would jot down in brief, every month, whatever had happened in the company: maybe points, such as decisions taken across departments; initiatives or project launches; marketing plans; market research; new customers; strategic changes; investments; employee hires and exits; who did what during the month and so on. Over the years, whenever you wished to revisit your history and see what you had done and when you had done it, a journal like this would be most helpful.
Written by Rudrajeet Desai