Operations Case Study

Knowledge is power! How to capture and manage the insight generated in a development environment

Posted on May 8, 2020

Challenge

What’s required to easily capture the information and knowledge generated whilst developing a greenfield digital data platform?

Insight and strategy

The programme for a data platform generates a lot of information, including requirement-gathering processes, technical expert knowledge, as well as information from vendors of technical solutions.

And if you’re replacing a legacy system there will be data that needs to be subsumed in the new platform.

We were tasked with providing a digital solution that would empower product development teams to capture essential information about how platform technology, and associated applications and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), is developed according to the requirements provided.

Experience – and we’ve got a lot – has taught us technical teams prefer a content management solution where they can easily collaborate and share information, for example, explaining technical concepts to stakeholders, or describing how an application/API works.

The product development team we were working with had already started to use a wiki, with a feature rich editor, which complemented their product management and software bug-tracking tool.  This was a great asset that could cope with the rapid, organic growth of information that had already begun to be recorded during the early stages of the design and development of the greenfield digital data platform.

Execution / Solution / Innovation

The information in the wiki was in its early stages, and by working with contributors we created a structure that would allow the information to grow, ensuring essential information was captured and easy to access by stakeholders.

The wiki allowed teams to easily document changes in technical solutions as new technologies were evaluated, and record best practice knowledge for using and supporting these technologies.

To empower teams across the programme we engaged them in a strategy to provide standards for knowledge management:

  • Clear approach: A defined knowledge management approach allowing teams to capture, develop, share and use knowledge effectively, and prevent loss of essential knowledge.
  • Structure: An effective structure for storing knowledge and information making it easy to locate and identify where it is incomplete.
  • Communication: Communication of effective methods for knowledge management making it easy for all to record and validate knowledge and information for effective use.
  • Governance and control: Defined governance for the end-to-end process of capturing information promoting trust in our knowledge and expertise for the audience.

We worked with the development teams to create informative templates for technical information, which included minimum page properties that capture audit details connecting the information with product management / software bug-tracking records.

We also monitored the creation of information - identified unwelcome trends, such as duplication of information, or the same type of information being documented differently.  To prevent the information becoming unstructured and invalidated, we created a comprehensive knowledge management portal, in the wiki, including documentation standards, process guidance and templates for stakeholders to reference at every stage of documentation.

Mentoring contributors across the programme, including non-native English speaking contributors, to create consistent, cohesive, understood content was very satisfying.  Helping them to control and record the peer review process, making sure an audit trail could be easily accessed about the progress of information, ensured that knowledge management standards were learnt and socialised within the development teams.

Result / Business Effect

As the programme grows, the solution will accommodate further benefits and support the client for the long term:

  • Providing a content management application, such as a wiki, is a highly effective way for each member of the programme teams to collaborate, and contribute to the technical documentation and on-line help as an integral part of the everyday development process.
  • Ensuring accurate and up to date documentation makes components, applications, web services, schemas and databases easier to use and maintain, reducing support requirements whilst improving quality and productivity.
  • Allowing new employees joining the programme to get up to speed on existing projects quickly, also meaning knowledge can be easily shared amongst team members.
  • Providing a source to deliver accurate and professional documentation to an external audience, improving the customers’ perception of the product and the company.

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