How Proper Software Documentation Can Help Your Company Grow

If you’re serious about growing your company, it all starts with the code.

You might not know this, but software development best practices include proper documentation. For those that aren’t software engineers, the idea behind documentation is to add text or even ASCII illustrations, within the actual code (or the code repository) to help explain how the software operates, why a developer took a particular path in their development, or how the software is to be deployed and/or used.

Surprisingly enough, this documentation is crucial for company growth. This is especially so for companies looking to employ digital acceleration. And it doesn’t matter if your software is developed in-house, or if you use outsourced software development — documentation is crucial.

It’s certainly easy to understand why good documentation would help make the jobs of your developers easier. But how can it influence the growth of your company?

At BairesDev we know the value of proper software documentation, so we’re here to explain to you how it can help your company grow.

Faster deployments

In today’s world of constant evolution, your company has to start thinking in terms of near-instant deployment of software and services. If your developers are still locked into the traditional method of deployment, company growth will be stunted. In fact, your deployment model should now include Continuous Deployment/Continuous Integration (CI/CD), so you can even automate the deployment of software and services.

To make this a reality, your developers must document their code properly. Without leaving clear roadmaps as to how a piece of code is used, it’ll be exponentially harder for a team to work with code added to the team repository. Within the realm of CI/CD, every second counts, which means your developers must do everything they can to make the software lifecycle as efficient as possible.

Fast app and service deployment is directly tied to growth, and you should be doing everything possible to improve that pipeline.

Rules and goals

If your engineers are properly documenting their software, they’ll include certain rules that must be followed. These rules generally apply to things like how specific APIs are to be used, what the core functionality of that particular piece of software is (and how it applies to the whole), and what the overall goal of the deployment is.

With these bits of information in place, it becomes considerably easier for other engineers to jump in and immediately understand what the original developer intended and if that person followed the rules of the company and the goals of the project. When this is in place, it’s much easier for a development team to be expanded with new staff without having to first get them up to speed on the goals of a project or the rules that the project must follow.

Improved communication

Developers work as a team. This is especially true on a large project. And when you have a large number of developers working together on software deployment, they’re going to need to know who wrote what piece of code and how to reach them. If your developers aren’t adding the proper documentation to their work, it’ll become a challenge for other developers to know who is doing what. That makes for incredibly inefficient communication, which directly (and negatively) impacts how fast an application can grow and be released.

With proper code documentation, there’ll be no question as to who wrote what, what purpose their code served, and how to locate that particular developer. At a bare minimum, your developers should include their name and email address within their code.

For the purpose of repurposing

The best thing you can do to make sure your company is constantly growing is to work smarter. For developers, the best route for smart work is less work. In other words, when one of your developers produces a piece of brilliant code that can then be repurposed for another project, growth happens with more efficiency.

This can’t happen with undocumented code, unless you have engineers willing to comb through undocumented code, line by line, to figure out what it does. You want to make sure your developers are documenting their code, such that it can be easily repurposed in other projects.

Documentation outside of code

Not all software documentation exists within the code itself. This type of documentation makes it possible for admins to actually do their jobs. If your development team creates a piece of software but doesn’t offer up how to actually use or deploy the software, it’s of no use to admins.

Within a project repository, there needs to be at least a README file that includes all of the necessary documentation admins will require to deploy and use the software.

This is a must. Otherwise, your engineers will release their projects to those responsible for making use of their software, only to find nothing gets done with it. Without knowing how to actually deploy a piece of software, even the most brilliant code in the world is worthless to an admin.

That same repository might even house documentation for users. If that same team creates a piece of software and only includes documentation for the deployment of the project, those who actually have to use the software will be left in the dark.

Yes, it means extra work for developers, but for growth to actually happen, teams have to work together such that the software lifecycle can go off without a hitch — from development to deployment, to use.

Conclusion

If you’re serious about growing your company, it all starts within the code. And if your developers aren’t accustomed to documenting their work, it’s time you help them understand why it’s so important for them to do so. Good code is made great with proper documentation. With just a little bit of extra work, your software engineers can make a big difference in how efficiently your company can grow.

I’m a tech writer, IT enthusiast, and business development manager living in Miami.