Overwhelmed to organized: A documentation blueprint for Product Managers


A typical day in the life of a product manager kicks off with a steaming cup of coffee, the morning sun casting a hopeful glow on the day ahead.

But as they open their laptop, they’re greeted with endless notifications from Jira, Slack, emails, Notion, etc. As they sift through their never-ending to-do list, ten more tasks pop up just when they think they’ve got a handle on it.

Then there are those moments when someone asks:

“Hey, what’s happening with that dashboard thing Adam wanted?”

“Wait, about whaaaaaaat?”

I feel you – it’s tough to be a product manager. May be as tough as competing in the Iron Man triathlon but instead of swimming, biking, and running, you’re juggling specs, timelines, notes, and feature requests.

And they’re all over the place. 🥹

This mess means big headaches for everyone. It’s easy to miss updates, lose track of important stuff, or even start working on something that’s already outdated.

Here’s what this looks like in real life:

  1. Last-minute launch frenzy: You’re about to roll out a new feature, and suddenly, a critical piece of info goes MIA. Oops, there goes your dream launch.
  2. The endless doc hunt: A team member could have found some info in minutes, but nope, they’re lost in documentation limbo for hours because nothing’s where you expect it to be.
  3. Deja vu with bugs: Remember that bug from January? It’s back. But where’s the fix you talked about six months ago? Good luck finding that conversation (I doubt you’ll find it)
  4. Lost in translation: You’ve got comments and ideas from folks all over – Jira, Slack, Notion, emails. But when it’s time to find that one crucial piece of feedback? Typical needle in a haystack situation. And when you update something, for example, your latest pricing, making sure everyone’s aware of this is a nightmare.

These are not just hypothetical situations but real challenges that product managers face daily.

The consequences of such disorganization can range from minor setbacks to catastrophic failures, impacting not just timelines but the product’s success in the market. 🤯

All is not lost my friend, the following 5 tips will transform your product documentation from this ↓

To this…. ↓

(If you can guess this movie – you’re AMAZING | Hint: The movie starts with “I”)

5 tips for optimizing your product documentation

1. Centralize documentation sources

Your product documentation will be in a better place if the info your team needs is available in one single place. Take all the scattered bits of data coming from your tech stack and put them in one spot. This will let your team find info without needing to juggle between multiple docs/ tools.

Here’s how you can set this up:

  1. Choose a platform: Pick a platform like Notion, Obsidian, Evernote, etc that everyone on your team can access and use easily. This will be your new documentation hub.
  2. Migrate Your Docs: Move your existing documents, project plans, and anything else your team needs into this central spot. It might take some time, but it’s worth it.
  3. Train Your Team: Show your team how to use this new system. Make sure they know how to find documents and add new ones.

Here’s what all you can centralise:

  1. Project plans
  2. Technical specs
  3. Meeting notes
  4. Feature requests

Pro Tip:

If your team keeps asking where to find certain types of documents, make a quick guide or directory. Then, pin that guide to the top of your documentation platform. You can even set up a notification system. Say, if someone tags a document with “urgent,” everyone gets an alert.

[Bonus Resource]

This is for all my lazy PM friends – if you’ve been struggling to find/ build a good repository for all your product-related documents, I found this one Notion template that can help here (I know, I’m amazing :D)

2. Implement a robust tagging system

[Super Important] When you’re trying to find your documentation, do you probably frantically search with random keywords, hoping for the best?

This wild document chase eats up an average of 1.6 hours of your day! (McKinsey said it, not me 😂)

Platforms like Obsidian, Roam Research, Heptabase, etc allow you to use # when taking down a note. Similar to how hashtags streamline your search on social media, a well-thought-out tagging system changes the way you access documents in your projects. Tagging your documentation allows you to navigate vast amounts of data with a few clicks.

Why bother?

Say you’re looking for all documents related to the “beta launch” of your product. Instead of sifting through folders or asking around, you simply search for the #BetaLaunch tag. Instantly, you have everything you need at your fingertips, from technical specs to marketing plans.

Here are my favorite product tags (feel free to copy them):

  1. #product-research
  2. #product-ama
  3. #product-feedback
  4. #user-interviews
  5. #release-notes

Thank me later, alligator!

3. Create a strong documentation culture

At Springworks, “Err on the side of over-communication” is one of our core values. We’re 100% sold on the fact that robust documentation is one of the most effective ways to ensure that every stakeholder is always in the loop about project developments.

This culture of documentation doesn’t spring up overnight, it needs to be nurtured deliberately from the top down. So, if you’ve been meaning to start documenting your work – the best time to start is “now”. This habit will slowly embed into your team’s DNA as well.

Here are a few practical tips on how to go about this:

  1. Regular reminders: Make documentation a regular topic in your team meetings. A quick 5-minute reminder about its importance can do wonders.
  2. Celebrate contributors: Got a team member who’s always on top of documenting? Give them a shout-out.
  3. Provide the right tools: Whether it’s a simple wiki or a full-blown project management system, make sure your team has what they need to document easily.

Leverage Slack Canvas for your documentation:

Being a remote-first org, we live and breathe on Slack. Since Slack has introduced Canvas, it has become our best friend. It allows our team to take notes, organise our to-dos, and tag team members for updates/ feedback —all within the convenience of Slack.

It is amazing if you’re looking to streamline collaboration, enhance visibility across stakeholders, and foster better ideation and engagement.

What you can start documenting (right now):

  1. Meeting outcomes and action items
  2. Quick reference guides and FAQs
  3. Project milestones and status updates
  4. Critical decision-making rationales

Now, at any given moment, the whole team has a clear and updated view of our projects, straight from Slack where our conversations are already happening.

4. Regular review and archiving

All the documents you create will become useless if you don’t review and clean them regularly. You wouldn’t want them to be an overwhelming pile of “might-need-this-someday” that nobody ever looks at again.

Keeping your documentation fresh and up-to-date means that your team always has the most relevant and accurate information at their fingertips. Archive whatever is not necessary – the more you declutter the more it reduces confusion and keeps your documentation space clean and navigable.

This isn’t rocket science, but if you’re confused about how to do this follow this framework:

  1. Set a Review Rhythm: Mark your calendar for regular documentation audits – whether it’s monthly, quarterly, or at the end of every project. The key is consistency.
  2. Update and Tidy Up: During these reviews, refresh any documents that are still in play and kindly show the door to anything that’s out of date. This keeps your documentation from turning into a digital hoarder’s paradise.
  3. Delegate Document Duties: Assign ‘documentation stewards’ for different areas or document types. Ensure their assigned sections stay pristine and current.

If you ever feel lazy about doing this, come back to this analogy: “Would you keep expired milk in your fridge?” (strictly right answers only)

In the same way, there’s no reason to keep expired information in your documentation.

Regular check-ins ensure that your team isn’t wasting time sifting through outdated files or missing critical updates due to documentation disarray.

5. Get an AI assistant to manage this information overload

What if you could use a 24/7 virtual assistant to solve all the above and more? (Yup, I’m serious)

Would you like that?

Today these virtual assistants come in the form of AI-powered knowledge bots that can connect with all your product apps like Jira, Asana, Trello, Notion, Drive, Slack, Confluence, etc, and answer whatever questions you throw at them.

For example, you could ask Albus questions like:

  1. @Albus could you summarise all action items from my user interview with Adam
  2. @Albus what’s the latest on Adam’s onboarding feature request?
  3. @Albus did we discuss anything about this #12302 bug ticket in the past?

You get the idea…

The no of questions asked is directly proportional to Albus’s accuracy. (Permission granted to go crazy with your questions 😉)

Focus on what you do best – being the best PM out there, and let Albus take care of the rest!

If you’re interested in seeing Albus in action, you can either:

  1. Book a demo with our team
  2. Sign up for your free trial

In case if you’ve any questions or need any more reading material please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]

Catch you in the next one!

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