IT Information Management 4.0 

How high is the friction loss in information transfer?  

Teams have their own data silos; information exchange between teams is arbitrary. 

In the following, we will look at the term DocOps and offer suggestions for professional IT information management. 

The way organisations work has been turned on its head in our modern time. With the integration of development and operations (DevOps), an understanding has emerged in IT, just how important it is to establish teams that bring together viewpoints and knowledge from various areas. 

DocOps builds on that experience to look at the components of information management. DocOps itself is the buzzword for a changing mindset. DevOps teams are expanded by adding information management. This new skill is to counteract the fact that DevOps teams generally do not document their work consistently and only create ‘single purpose documents’. These document requirements are delegated in the teams arbitrarily, without any concept for relevant qualifications and objectives for the completion of that task. DocOps makes these efforts transparent, plannable and manageable by experts. Simply said, DocOps is the logical continuation of DevOps. 

The DocOps approach was developed by Technical Editing to allow their know-how to flow into the modern (agile) methodology. The know-how and tools of technical editing fill this gap in the DevOps environment: How can information be made available to all continuously, efficiently, simply and professionally?  

And how can the efforts of document creation be effectively reduced within the team? 

 

Overview 

Let’s first have a look at the definition of ‘DocOps’ and some of its key principles before we look at the details and differences of traditional and continuous documentation. 

Definition 

Mary Connor offered a very good definition for DocOps in her interviews, presentations and on her website (see “Links”). 

DocOps is all about establishing continuous documentation to make DevOps (continuous delivery) successful. This will require the integration of departments and users of interdisciplinary teams into the document creation process. Ideally, a new role ‘Information Manager’ should: 

  • Be in charge of all document requirements
  • Control the creation and maintenance of information 
  • Make information available via a standardised portal. 

 

Key Principles 

  • Collaborative information management
    All information is created in a collaborative effort. Information and product are one unit and will not be viewed as separate entities. Information is created step by step and is made available directly.
  • Collaborative information management
    All information is created in a collaborative effort. Information and product are one unit and will not be viewed as separate entities. Information is created step by step and is made available directly.
  • Aggregation
    Information is stored centrally. Information access is governed via rights and roles. Anyone in the organisation will have at least read access. 
  • User integration
    Users can influence the content directly or indirectly, which means that information is continuously updated and improved.

The Road from Traditional Documentation to DocOps Information Management 

In the following, we will describe the difference between traditional and DocOps methodology using 2 illustrations. 

Example from Technical Documentation 

1. Traditional methodology 


Technical writers work for Technical Editing, which is tasked with making the content of various information providers available to many stakeholders (information users). The storage, creation and distribution of this information is not managed centrally and is handled differently from one team to the next. Teams have their own data silos (e.g. SharePoint, network drives or digital notice boards). The only place, where all information comes together is the editorial office, where documents (e.g. manuals) are created. The dissemination of information is extremely complex and there is no safeguard in place to ensure that only the most current information is used or that all teams have access to the same level of knowledge, as they do not have access to the central content management and must rely on information provided by the editorial office. The creation and dissemination of these documents is very time-consuming for most editorial offices. From experience, we estimate that these efforts (depending on system) may require up to 10% of overall work time. 

 

2. Would DocOps make a difference here? 

DocOps creates clear rules for information management. A standardised platform exists, where all information about the (software) product is stored. Creation paths are unified with roles and access rights. Information dissemination is automated via meta data and there is no need to produce and disseminate documents. Stakeholders can source information autonomously via the portal and export whatever data they need (e.g. in PDF format). 

 

In this environment, technical writers become information managers (IM). The IM is responsible for making the information of the teams available centrally and structured. An IM is furthermore responsible for the language quality, translation and maintenance of the information (information governance). The IM makes available all required information systems for stakeholders (e.g. customers, suppliers). In state-of-the-art cloud-based applications, this is done via automated deployment using meta data and is therefore very simple. 

 

Developers should document?

One of the greatest points of resistance is the idea that non-editors will suddenly have additional document creation duties. Our projects have shown that the opposite is the case. Specialists don’t have to do anything they aren’t already doing. The only thing changing is the environment and the tool used. At the end of the day, specialists like developers will have significantly less documentation work and DocOps will allow them to do their job more efficiently. 

 

Links: 

The following pages offer a good overview of the topic: 

“DocOps – Documentation at the speed of agile”–  by Mary Connor

Right concepts, wrong tools – Wiki-based DocOps

5 Examples for good information systems / technical documentation

 

Bottom Line 

DocOps contributes to making the flow of information more professional. It allows everyone involved to concentrate on their core tasks. 

The introduction of new qualifications on the topic of information management in DevOps visualises requirements and complexities, which makes them controllable. This transparency and the professionalisation made possible by current and reliable information via a centrally controlled portal allows all users to become more efficient in their work. DocOps is therefore a key factor in the DevOps environment, which significantly contributes to better solutions.  

 

We are looking forward to receiving your comments and suggestions and will be happy to answer any questions. If you want to know more about how to implement DocOps with the avato solution iPortal, please contact:  av-itim@avato.net.

Do you have questions? Send us an email: marketing@avato.net

Imprint: 
Date: October 2019
Author: Martin Lieneke
Contact: av-itim@avato.net
www.avato-consulting.com
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