The fusionSpan Blog

Documentation: Good for Work and Travel!

By Linh Hoang |April 29, 2016
Association Management Solutions (AMS)How To
Koala on Phillip Island, Australia

Hello Small Staff Big Impact. I’m baack! I’ve spent the better part of the last year traveling around Australia and SE Asia. I’ve met a lot of great people and learned many things. As part of my experience, I held some interesting jobs to supplement my travel income, including crew on a 43 foot yacht and farm hand on a lime farm.

I also got the chance to work with a non-profit in Australia, helping with their AMS. Yes, I found myself staring down another messy AMS situation. I was surprised to find out that they have similar problems to many of our clients in the US and I’d like to share what I learned from this experience.

This non-profit association uses one of the most well-known AMS’s in the business so it was interesting to find out that they had such a hard time finding reliable third party vendors in Australia. This seems like a missed opportunity since there are over 600k non-profits in Australia (less than half of the 1.5 million in the US but still significant).

One of my favorite things about this organization is the staff. They were eager and ready to learn how to use their AMS to its potential. To me, this was the key to moving in the right direction. Like many non-profits, this group has seen its fair share of staff turnover in the past five years so it worked to our advantage to have a relatively ‘fresh’ staff. But this also meant that knowledge transfer and training may not have been the top priority.

I emphasized documentation as much as I could without sounding like a broken record player. (Why is process documentation important? Read Gayathri Kher’s post on that very topic!) The best way for me to get this started was to pick something relatively easy and document it myself. This helped the staff see what this sort of documentation looked like (screenshots, terminology, checklists, etc). We then used my example as a basis for theirs. In this case, it’s important to walk the walk.

Analytical or Visual Brain

Honestly, the hardest part of documentation is to write it down. It is way easy to review or edit on someone else’s work. There are two types of brains for this – the analytical and the visual. The analytical brain likes to write down steps first while the visual brain likes to take screenshots as you go through the process and write down the steps after. You need to figure out what kind of person you are before you start. If you are really a visual person and start on the analytical route, you will never get done with your documentation! …because you aren’t enjoying it at all and you are working against your brain.

This applies to more than work. As I was traveling, I found it easy to journal if I wrote down quick lists of what I did, who I met and what I bought. I can always add pictures later. I am totally an analytical brain. If I was more of a visual brain, maybe I could’ve gotten myself focused enough to work on a travel blog. How do you record things outside of work? Do you like to take photos or scrapbook? Do you have a collection of movie ticket stubs or receipts? Share in the comments below!

Enjoy some of my travel pictures documentation!



Email me if you’re working on some documentation and would like some help or advice…OR if you want to chat about how awesome Australia is.

Linh Hoang

Linh has been with fusionSpan since 2012 and enjoys working with all of our non-profit clients on their CMS, AMS, website and event management needs. She heads up the professional services department, which strives to provide exceptional support and valuable consulting for projects and staff of any size. Linh also enjoys planning fun events for fusionSpan staff and loves any excuse to get us all together to eat and be merry! Prior to joining fusionSpan, Linh was the Membership Coordinator for the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals and Event Specialist for The Balcom Group. Linh has a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from George Mason

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