I think you will find a lot of software developers, and engineers in general, like making lists. It is in our DNA. Systems are complex, and systems talking to other systems can be diabolical. Increasingly it seems you just can’t remember it all.
So it is with no surprise that here at Univex we have lists for all sorts of processes: building software, writing components, deploying web sites, setting up interfaces to other software systems, new staff member induction, and on it goes. These help us deliver consistent results under different conditions.
We even had an instruction sheet on how to cook hot dogs in the office. Yes, Hot dogs! No matter how trivial a job seems there is bound to be somebody new, at some stage in the future, who doesn’t quite know what the standard is and how to achieve it. Having it written down (rather than floating in somebody’s memory) will accelerate the ramp-up stage for staff, and goes hand-in-hand with our values of never stop learning. I’m glad to report we have not had any burst hot dog incidents for many years now.
We put everything in an internal wiki that allows anyone to correct or improve the processes as they see fit. No “change review board”, no getting permission from your boss, if you see a list or process that needs fixing you have all the authority and responsibility to just get in there and fix it. This has facilitated rapid improvement year after year.
Even if you are an individual contributor, in some organisation big or small, there is always opportunity to start documenting your job. One day you might be asked to train somebody. Remember you can’t be promoted unless you have a replacement! All you need is an Evernote folder, a collection of Word files, or even just dot points in text files. Write down what the task is, what the standard is (quality, time, end result), and steps to achieve it. This might not be 100% accurate on a first revision but you are well on your way to making life easier for you in the future.