What Corporate Projects Should Learn from Open Source
Subject:   Policies vs. Documented Policies
Date:   2006-03-05 14:01:38
From:   TimKientzle
An excellent article! I have one minor quibble, though. I think the article (slightly) overstates the need for documented processes. I think it is more important to have processes than to have documented processes, and that the emphasis on documentation can actually be counter-productive.

One corporate team I managed became vastly more productive after we instituted standard practices for source control and release management. Those practices were understood and practiced by everyone on the team for almost a year before they were written down. (In a sense, they were "documented" in the form of simple scripts that automated portions of the process; I credit this automation with the widespread acceptance of our processes.)

In contrast, I've seen a few instances where people documented practices that weren't already in general use; frequently the practices never get adopted and the documentation turns out to have simply been a waste of time.

I think that both developers and development managers often fail to understand that "more documentation" can be just as counter-productive as "more source code." Documentation needs to be reviewed and maintained just like any other project output.