Documentation: Early and Often

Documentation is a coherent record of your organization’s most important, meaningful activities, methods, and outcomes. It shows—through text, images, recordings, and artifacts—that a program or project is active, exciting, and fruitful.

It also is an effective but underutilized strategy for improving the sustainability of projects and fledgling businesses or programs.

Well-planned and executed documentation offers five benefits that all lead to stronger, more sustainable projects and programs:

  1. Increases visibility
  2. Builds relationships
  3. Strengthens implementation
  4. Enriches evaluation
  5. Expands funding opportunities

Effective documentation helps you tell a coherent story that highlights the most important activities and features of a project or program. Building this story does not have to be difficult, expensive, or time-consuming if you:

  • Use your imagination.
  • Develop and implement a simple, realistic documentation plan.
  • Follow and regularly revisit the plan.
  • Promote awareness, involvement, and resourcefulness.

You may be wondering why you should document at an early stage or with such a small-scale effort. Why not wait until the project goes somewhere? Here’s why: If it goes somewhere, if it gets bigger, you want to show people that you have been committed, thoughtful, at work. That your first success has a team that will take it further.

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