A common complaint I get from people when they see my docs and processes at work is that they seem excessive for a startup. “Documents are for big companies”, they say. Or they think my boss is a dictator who forces me to write a 50-page spec document.
None are true. Here is the real reason I spend so many days perfecting my documents, be it a 1 - pager pitch document or a 50 pager spec, is that it helps me get clarity on the task at hand. These documents are really for me; not for my manager.
Let’s go through a few scenarios:
You want to pick up an ambitious project which will take months of development and might be the only thing you ship. Would you rather argue with Management when the project gets delayed, because most big projects do, or just add a ‘Potential areas of concern’ section in your spec and highlight that timeline might change based on X factors, and then communicate this as early as you can.
You took a big decision and got external stakeholders aligned in spite of their initial protests. Would you want them to come back later and say they had never given their buy-in, or just highlight this in a DACI table, and communicate this as a joint decision
You start development. One month later the developer comes and tells you that he has no clue why we picked it up in the first place. Now ask ‘Would it have hurt to create a WHY section in the spec highlighting the data and qualitative research backing this project?’
I use dozens of docs at work. I obsess over how I can improve my communication. I try to create as many frameworks as I can. I believe in focusing on these so that I can accomplish 80% of the work through 20% effort later.
So don’t create processes to impress your team. Don’t write 50-page docs to earn brownie points from management. Do it so that you can do your job as a PM better. In the end, it is the only thing that matters.
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