Run periodic "documentation hours"

While Atlan tries to automate and use algorithms to ease the challenge of getting context to understand your data, certain tribal knowledge can only come from your team's Humans of Data.

While we all understand the importance of documentation, the reality is that data teams are super stretched. Sometimes it becomes incredibly difficult for metadata contributors and curators to take time to add all their tribal knowledge into a central tool like Atlan.

Here's the interesting thing we have found — typically the task of adding the metadata isn't that time-consuming. The real challenge is that it always slips to a lower priority among all the other things on your team's plate.

So how can a DataOps champion ensure that documentation doesn't take a backseat in your team's priority list?

💪 Did you know? To solve this challenge, some amazing DataOps champions started organizing documentation hours in their teams on a weekly basis, creating a regular space for users to document the data they were working on. 

What is a documentation hour?

A documentation hour is a fixed one-hour slot in the team's calendar, when the entire team comes together on a joint video call to document their data assets!

We typically recommend that a single team call has maximum 6-8 members to promote intimacy among the participants. If you'd like more people to be present in a documentation hour, we recommend that the whole team comes together in a central call and, after an initial address, are broken into breakout rooms with 6-8 people and a facilitator in each.

This kind of weekly hour helps your team build a sense of achieving a goal together and fosters a feeling of community.

Organize your own documentation hour

Plan the work you're hoping to accomplish in your documentation hour

💡 Top tip The single most important part of the documentation hour is the pre-planning. All the data contributors need to know what they are supposed to do in a Documentation Hour.

Add the data contributors as Owners to the most important tables that they have knowledge about, and mark those tables as Draft.

If you'd like to go a step further, you could also create a template to make documentation easy and standardized.

Now end users can simply log into Atlan and right on their personal home page they will see all the assets they should work on.

Plan the logistics

  • Send out a recurring calendar invite with the link to the conference call.
  • Do a dry run in case you are planning to use breakout rooms for a large group.

Announce the documentation hour in your team's communication channel

Share a message with the team (via email or a chat tool like Slack or Microsoft Teams) about why you came up with the idea of a documentation hour.

The best messages follow a few key principles:

  • Create a sense of purpose. For example, "As our team grows, it is critical that knowledge is available at the fingertips of new team members so that they can be onboarded and productive as soon as possible."
  • Highlight the problem that led to you organizing the documentation hour. For example, "I know that we all want to document and share our knowledge with the team but are struggling to find dedicated time to do so. To solve this problem, we are creating a shared space where we all come together to dedicate time towards documentation."
  • Announce the logistics. For example, "We are blocking 4-5 p.m. EST on everyone's calendars."
  • (Optional) Make it fun and exciting. For example, "There's a very cool award planned for our Doc Champ of the month. Don't miss it!"


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