Crosspost: Why You Need Data Documentation in 2024

Data documentation isn’t a box to check; it’s an active member of your team with many jobs-to-be-done. In this cross-post with Select Star, I write about how effective documentation can be your data products’ developer advocate for users, project manager for developers, and chief of staff for data leaders

Emily Riederer


January 15, 2024

We’ve all worked with poorly documented dataset, and we all know it isn’t pretty. However, it’s surprisingly easy for teams to continue to fall into “documentation debt” and deprioritize this foundational work in favor of flashy new projects. These tradeoff discussions may become even more painful in 2024 as teams are continually asked to do more with less.

Recently, I had the opportunity to articulate some of the underappreciated benefits of data documentation in a cross-post with Select Star. This builds on my prior post showing that documentation can be strategically created throughout the data development process. To make the case for taking those “raw” documentation resources to a polished final form, I return to the jobs-to-be-done framework that I’ve previously employed to talk about the value of innersource packages. In this perspective, documentation is like hiring an extra resource (or more!) to your team.

Some of the jobs discussed are:

If you or your team works on data documentation, I’d love to hear what other “jobs” you have found that data documentation performs in your organization.