Home / Support for EA Modelling With eaDocX / Insights / Different documents for Different People

Different documents for Different People

How to tailor information to each user - making it as easy as possible for everyone to engage with your work, project or deliverables.

Having worked in organisations large and small for many years, we have learned that often projects and business initiatives fail or are delayed when we can’t get the right people to engage with what we are doing.

  • Requirements are incomplete.
  • The impacts of risks and valid mitigations are not fully understood.
  • Designs haven’t been reviewed by all the right people.
  • Assumptions are not made explicit.

All the information may have been available, but not in a convenient form for all stakeholders.

What’s needed is a way to tailor information to each user – making it as easy as possible for them to engage with our work, our project, our deliverables.

It’s obvious isn’t it?

The Programme manager doesn’t need to see the test specification, the Ops manager doesn’t need to see every detail of every use case, the customer facing team won’t need to know the architectural trade-offs.

Each person needs just the specific information that lets them do their job. Given to them in a way that makes it obvious what’s important, and lets them get on with what they need to do next.

But it’s such a pain creating documents

Almost no-one likes creating documents. They take time we’d rather spend doing something more creative. And pretty much as soon as they are finished, they are out of date.

Because it’s such a chore, the obvious thing to do is to put as much information as we can into each document. Then we don’t have to produce as many.

And it’s dull reading them

The trouble with most documents that contain lots of content (which was the easiest thing for us) is that every reader then has to plough through lots of stuff that isn’t relevant to them, just to find the bits that are.

Or maybe they don’t even read them at all. And instead come to us asking for a ‘quick run through’ of the critical bits. Which isn’t a good use of anyone’s time.

Let’s get rid of documents altogether then

Like the paperless office, that one seems to be a pipe dream. Most businesses need to have traceability of what and when and why. Records that can be traced, clarity about decisions reached and configurations deployed, contracts signed and assumptions documented.

Even (particularly?) in a world of Agile development, there is a place for some documentation. A photograph of sticky notes on a white board can be difficult to interpret when viewed a year later, out of context.

The challenge

So how can we create different documents for different people.? Not only that, but also create documents that speed up the work we do, that improve the quality of the work we do, and that deliver real business benefits?

How do we make documents that work for the author and the reader, for the individual and for the organisation? Individual documents that are consistent with others that have been created, that you don’t have to stop or slow down other work to create, that are available when they are needed (not 2 weeks later), that help us work smarter?

Why not generate documents direct from a model?

Not just ‘cut and paste’ individual diagrams from one tool into a separate document or email. But auto generate a set of documents from a common store of information, each one for a different audience, each one doing a different job.

Using a common set of modelled information, we can create the documents our business needs.

Every person with their own view of a common set of data.

There is a place for the ‘everything I know’ type document – but it’s usually in the company or project archives. It’s the insurance policy. That you want to keep just in case, but hope never to need.

But for pretty much every other purpose, we need to be cleverer than that. Cleverer in the way we create the information and cleverer in the way we publish it.

Documents that are personalised can contain just the information that each person needs. Just the diagrams that they can understand, just the content that is relevant. Sorted, filtered and formatted just for them.

Personalised content

With the right structure, …

In an ideal world, the structure of each document would be fit for each exact audience and purpose. And the content within each document tailored, with all the right things included and excluded.

… the right formatting …

It makes a difference to readability so it’s important to choose whether we present the information as tables or as in-line text, displayed in spreadsheets or as charts.

… and clear navigation.

Each audience and each document will be different. So it is important to think about the best way to include related information. Maybe ‘in-situ’, integrated into the root information. Or accessible with hyperlinks, so readers can move around the document in the same way they would online.

Made clear

It should be obvious what document it is and where it comes from. That means it ‘looks right’ – with company branding, fonts, styles and standards built in. And with full traceability of authors and approvals, versions and dates.

Not only that, but to make it easier for readers to spot the important stuff, it’s good to include formatting to highlight areas or flag key issues for action.

Available when needed

Documents that can be generated directly from models can be produced instantly whenever they are needed. That means there’s no need to add excessive time into the plan for collating and writing the key documentation, and we can avoid adding delay and frustration to time critical deliverables.

And they can be updated automatically, with the minimum fuss. Providing full traceability and control of the project deliverables.

Is that all?

Well, it’s a start…

In summary, we believe that a good document should:

Documents that meet all these criteria allow us to …

Type Less, Think More

More Insights

Using Excel to create an EA dashboard

16 February 2021

A simple example of an EA dashboard, to show how you can create your own and show the information in your EA model to your project team

Learn More

Where's the best place to start modelling?

19 October 2020

Advice for the new modeller #1 - Where do you start?

Learn More

Process based model styles

25 August 2020

How to use BPMN and UML to make models which last.

Learn More

Models matter - nearly as much as deliverables

25 August 2020

Models matter - nearly as much as model deliverables

Learn More

Improving model quality using a Sparx EA reference model

25 August 2020

Maintain quality with tools to find and fix mechanical errors in your modelling

Learn More

Fixing your meta-model

25 August 2020

Advice for the new modeller #3 – Fixing your meta-model

Learn More

How much domain modelling is enough?

25 August 2020

Advice for the new modeller #2 – (not) Melting the Pan

Learn More

What needs to be included in your EA model content?

25 August 2020

Advice for the new modeller #4 – (not) Modelling The World

Learn More

Knowing when to give up

25 August 2020

Knowing when to step back makes for better Business Analysts

Learn More

Using UML icons for more useful models

25 August 2020

Diagram Graphics for Adults

Learn More

Using Enterprise Architect to document decision making

25 August 2020

Make your models more useful for future modellers

Learn More

Beck’s Map: an EA model abstraction example

25 August 2020

Possibly the best model abstraction in the world

Learn More

Use case, package or process?

25 August 2020

A time for Packages

Learn More

Simplifying ideas in a BPMN Process Diagram

25 August 2020

How to find the right number of ideas to include in your model.

Learn More

Explaining EA Sparx Systems to non-modellers

25 August 2020

Model driven analysis - the best way to define what we do?

Learn More

How to simplify BPMN Data Models

25 August 2020

Why simplifying your diagrams can actually make them more informative.

Learn More

Create useful models using the Sparx EA Tool

18 August 2020

Advice for the new modeller #3 - Producing useful outputs with your new EA tool.

Learn More

Beginners guide to Enterprise Architect software

18 August 2020

Our advice for new EA modellers

Learn More

UML Business Analyst Solutions

14 August 2020

Using UML to resolve inconsistencies, gaps and overlaps.

Learn More

Cleaning: How to Simplify Enterprise Architecture Models

14 August 2020

Model Curation Techniques # 1 - Cleaning your EA model before you let other people see it

Learn More

Including Sparx EA Model Provenance

14 August 2020

Sparx EA model help to explain to others why your models look the way they do.

Learn More

What to include in your enterprise architect documentation

29 July 2020

How to create documents which communicate your ideas efficiently and effectively to stakeholders.

Learn More

Organising an Enterprise Architect Model

28 July 2020

Seven ways to organise your EA models so that other people can understand them

Learn More

Choosing Your UML Subset

27 July 2020

Narrowing down the modelling ideas in your Enterprise Architect model to make consistent, understandable models.

Learn More

Webinar: Using Interactive Documents to Collate Sparx EA Model Feedback

17 July 2020

A webinar from the EA Global Summit 2020.

Learn More

Webinar: How to successfully scale up your Enterprise Architect team

30 June 2020

A webinar from the EA Global Summit 2020.

Learn More

Navigating Models: Enterprise Architect Help and Techniques

16 April 2020

EA Model Curation Techniques #2 - Making models easy to navigate.

Learn More

Validation: Improving your Enterprise Architecture Model Structure

16 April 2020

EA Model Curation Techniques #3 - Validating your model

Learn More

Explaining the General with a Specific

16 April 2020

Explaining ideas using Object diagrams

Learn More

Document or Model View?

21 May 2018

Use your documents as an alternative to Model Views.

Learn More

Color your Knowledge

25 April 2018

A while ago a client asked me to look at some process diagrams which had been created for them by a well-known consultancy.

Learn More

Model Curation

6 March 2018

How cleaning, navigating and validating your EA model makes sharing and collaborating much more effective.

Learn More

Context - Where are we?

20 October 2017

I’m occasionally asked “What’s the most re-usable bit of a model – where should I start?“.

Learn More

Glossary

12 October 2017

In a recent talk, I asked the audience of about 100 BAs which of them maintained a glossary as part of their work.

Learn More

Hard and Soft

11 October 2017

No, not about Brexit… More about styles of Business Analyst.

Learn More

Printing connectors

18 October 2016

Creating documents that start with the connections between the things in your model

Learn More

Using Multi-hop relationships to display Branch/Merge with EA13

11 August 2016

One of the most common requests we see from new EA users is: "Why can’t I do branch/merge with EA?

Learn More

Compare pricing and features

Choose the eaDocX edition that’s right for you and your team

Compare Pricing

Download a free trial

Take a free, no obligation, 30-day trial of eaDocX. Discover for yourself why it’s the world’s best-selling Enterprise Architect extension.

Download