In my second job we worked on projects in small teams, maybe 2-3 people. My boss at the time, the team leader, was a lady called Andrea. She wrote everything down. I mean everything! I was still pretty new to the business world and rather naive, so I tended to rely on my memory a lot. Needless to say, she saved our bacon on numerous occasions. That was a very good lesson!
Now I’m still a bit lazy where general note-taking is concerned, but where tech is concerned I write down everything. If they are “general recipes”, I’ve probably already done a run through at home and written it up on my website. If they are company-specific notes or scripts, they go into the company knowledge base, or are saved as text notes on a shared drive. If I’m not sure where it should live, it goes in my scratchpad until I find a real home for it later. Nothing is ever lost!
As a DBA, you are often asked to use bits of technology you’ve not touched for years, or to look at systems you set up months/years ago, so having notes is a life saver. Last week I was asked to alter some WebLogic config on a system I set up about 2 years ago and I honestly didn’t have a clue what I had done. A quick rummage around and I found my setup notes and within about 30 seconds I was ready to go. It would have taken me ages to figure this stuff out again.
When you are in the thick of things, you can’t imagine a time when you won’t remember everything about a project. A couple of months later, it’s like you never worked on it. The only way you can keep your head above water is to make notes. The trick is to write enough to explain things clearly, but not so much you can’t be bothered to read them.
I’m always telling people to write. It’s nice if it is something that you can publish on a website or blog, but even if all your notes are hidden away, you still need to write them. Very few people can keep all this crap in their heads at all time. The good people are those who know where to get the information from. The internet helps, but I would take my own notes over a random internet search any day. You know more about your job and your company than some random person in the internet. Make your own notes!
PS. I purposely stayed away from the words “document” and “documentation” as people hear them and switch off. I am of course talking about documentation, but not that bloated crap overpriced consultancies give you.