The ROI of Documentation

Nelson Parente
5 min readApr 14, 2021
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Documentation has a bittersweet flavor for many Engineers, even though many acknowledge the benefits of documentation people usually don’t like to do it.

I respect that, as Engineers, we like to get our hands dirty, built new software, refactor existing software, everything but documentation, no one has time for documentation many might say.

I like to think of documentation as an Investment, when we invest time and effort into making strong documentation, that documentation will pay interest over time for sure, we can call this the Return on Investment of Documentation.

The Return on Investment of Documentation comes in many ways and the goal of this article is to show you my views on documentation, and what is important in order to maximize the interest your documentation will pay you back.

Let's start by looking at the most obvious and simple interests that your documentation will pay off, when you document something you are consolidating the concepts of the document, thus increasing your knowledge of the topic. Details matter and there were many times where I only noticed small details missing in the implementation when documenting it, otherwise, I wouldn’t be aware of these details and they would be left out of the final solution, it helps me gain another perspective.