As a startup, we have a quick turnaround in processes, a lot of experimentation, and implementation. Engineers always find fun in doing rather than documenting a lot of things. Over time, we built a proper internal documentation, checklist, code reviews, multiple user testing for our team – a bible if you will for any team member, be it old or new.
“I realised that the value of documentation during my PhD times, I had a mammoth of a notebook (which I still have) where all ideas, their outcomes (good, bad, and ugly), mindmaps I used to draw. It is much easier to draw a mindmap of a single project with a single mind working on it. It is much harder to do when there are 10 people working simultaneously on it. There is no mindmap in the latter, it can be gibberish. Thus, Resync’s documentation was born and is slowly being improved.”
One thing we neglected is our users need a checklist too. We had one installation where there was a ton of overlapping and conflicting information from the client, person on ground, and our engineering team. The communication was all over emails, group and private WhatsApp chats, phone calls, and whatnot. There was a lot of confusion and rework needed.
However, every crisis is an opportunity, and we took it as that. We introduced a checklist which included everything possible under the roof. There is scientific evidence to support that checklists can reduce errors, improve focus, and deploy solutions. Thorough checklists have helped flight crews, surgical staff avoid major disasters. It is a no brainer that an early-stage startup can definitely learn from them. It takes a lot of effort to overcome the inertia and write something especially where one has to list mundane tasks as well. (It took me over 2 months to document this amazing learning.) But once we got to it, it was pretty smooth, just putting the thoughts to the paper. We streamlined and broke down our processes into three sections – pre-installation, during-installation, and post-installation, identified people/team/company responsible for each task, and added oversight and resiliency from both parties for execution that needs to be approved by managers on both ends. It took us 2 days to meticulously create the checklist while keeping most things in mind. Currently, the page count stands at 14, but I am sure as we grow, we will have multiple checklists and it would be easy for us to onboard the customers and new team members to learn the ropes.
We put our checklist to test on a new customer and site, we completed the pre-requirements for the client before shipping the product in less than 4 hours, during the installation it took us less than 1 hour to onboard them, 20 mins to test, and post-installation we were able to streamline their data pipelines in 2 hours.