The engineer’s toolkit for effortless documentation

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Documentation is an essential—if sometimes tedious—part of an engineer’s job. While documentation might feel like a chore, it’s actually one of the most important tasks for long-term company success. 

Documentation provides new and seasoned team members with a living record of the business’s ideas, processes, systems, team structures, and more. And for engineers, documentation helps teams brainstorm, map, and explain product functionality and align teams and stakeholders across departments. 

By centralizing this information for anyone to access, teams can greatly improve efficiency and speed to market because team members will have the critical context they need to make informed decisions and do exceptional work quickly and confidently.

See our best practices for making living documentation effortless, continuous, and efficient. 

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Thankfully, living documentation is easier to create than you think. The key is visual collaboration.

When teams collaborate visually, such as brainstorming ideas on a virtual whiteboard, mapping out workflows, and forming Scrum teams using org charts, they are naturally documenting ideas, pivotal information, and ways to improve. By doing all of this recording in real time, you will help everyone stay aligned and bring new solutions forward faster. 

To get you started with collaborating visually and documenting as you go, we’ve compiled a toolkit of templates for common engineering use cases. Click any template to open in Lucidchart or Lucidspark.

Templates for documenting processes

Want to keep projects moving and teams agile? Document processes to identify pain points and areas of opportunity while showing stakeholders the big picture of what work has already been done. 

Process flow

Use a flowchart with swimlanes to show steps and areas of responsibility. As you continue with an initiative, add to this template in real time to optimize the process for business efficiency. 

Process flow template (click on image to modify online)

Current vs. future state flowchart

Continuous improvement is what makes a company stand out from the rest. Document your current vs. future state to visualize how a process, project, or product can be more efficient and articulate recommended changes to those involved.

Current vs future state template (click on image to modify online)

Improve a process

Make the most of process improvement by using both Lucidchart and Lucidspark. Flesh out this template by importing a Lucidchart document, identifying problem areas, and brainstorming solutions so all team members can see how a process has evolved over time. 

Improve a process template (click on image to modify online)

Templates for documenting systems

Understanding the systems you’re planning and working with is key to optimizing your designs and workflows. Use the following templates to map out the complexities of code and software and get consensus from stakeholders faster. 

Programming flowchart 

Use this programming code flowchart template to show the logic underlying your program and visualize the code to better understand the order of events in your software. 

 

Programming flowchart example (click on image to modify online)

Database ER diagram (crow’s foot) 

Visually represent the relationships between entities—like people, objects, or concepts—in a system. Use this ER diagram template to design or debug relational databases or in conjunction with data flow diagrams (DFDs), which map the flow of information for systems and processes.

Database ER diagram (crows foot) template (click on image to modify online)

DBMS ER diagram (UML notation)

Uncover how entities relate to one another within your database management system and use this DMBS ER diagram template to more efficiently build databases and implement data in applications. 

 

DBMS ER diagram template (click on image to modify online)

API flowchart

Easily document the logic of an API to clarify its structure and quickly show developers and non-technical stakeholders how the system will behave. Customize this high-level API template to your use case.

 

API flowchart example (click on image to modify online)

Templates for documenting team structure

Organizations will always have team members coming in and out of the company—or even just changing teams. Keeping developers on the same page is essential for ensuring continuous progress and agility. Get team members up to speed quickly no matter where they’re located or when they join a project. By documenting org and team structures, distributed teams will feel empowered to ask questions to the right people and make better decisions quickly. 

Org chart by Scrum team

Agility depends on regularly reviewing and optimizing your processes, systems, and teams. Keep up with the pace of innovation by building and organizing the most efficient and effective teams for the job. Use this org chart template to visualize your Scrum teams and collaborate with colleagues.  

 

Org chart by Scrum team template (click on image to modify online)

Scrum team skills chart 

Building a successful Scrum team relies on bringing together the right people with the right skills. Identify the core competencies you need, and use a skills chart to highlight employees that meet the criteria. With Lucidchart, you can generate an org chart from employee data, add conditional formatting, and group employees by role.

Scrum team skills chart (click on image to modify online)

Roles/responsibilities framework

Fill out this template in Lucidchart to keep an up-to-date record of team responsibilities in a centralized location for new and seasoned team members to access. Now, everyone can see who is working on what and see the history of how responsibilities have evolved.

 

Roles and responsibilities framework (click on image to modify online)

Templates for product development planning

Product development planning covers the product journey from concept to market—including brainstorming, project timing, roadmapping, release planning, and development. Because the process involves stakeholders at multiple levels and stages, documenting and visualizing the work along the way can streamline development, accelerate the path to deployment, and garner buy-in faster. 

Project timeline 

How will your product development goals fit into your schedule? Use this project timeline template to document tasks, assign responsibilities, and map deadlines to achieve your project goals.

 

Project timeline template (click on image to modify online)

Product roadmap for teams 

Communicate your project goals and product strategy with a visual roadmap. Achieve alignment on your vision and plans faster with this Lucidspark product roadmap template for teams

 

Roadmap template (click on image to modify online)

Release plan 

An Agile release plan acts as a project’s map, breaking down planned releases into manageable iterations and sprints while providing needed context around product goals and expectations. Customize your release plan, identify and assign essential tasks, and keep development on track with a release planning template.  

 

Release planning template (click on image to modify online)

Scrum board

Scrum boards help Agile teams visually plan and track sprints. Keep everything organized with a template that maps tasks into easy-to-follow categories such as To-do, Doing, and Done.  

 

Scrum board template (click on image to modify online)

DevOps roadmap

Bring your DevOps teams together with a clear roadmap for success. Uncover opportunities for innovation while documenting a visual blueprint for the construction and rollout of your products or features. Try it here.

DevOps roadmap template (click on image to modify online)

Make documentation work for you

By integrating a solution like the Lucid Visual Collaboration Suite into your tech stack, you and your team can collaborate visually and create a living blueprint of your business. Align teams across the business and document your entire workflow start to finish with our three connected products: Lucidchart, an intelligent diagramming application; Lucidspark, a virtual whiteboard; and Lucidscale, a cloud visualization solution. 

 

Explore how the Lucid Visual Collaboration Suite can help make documentation effortless.

Learn more

Explore how the Lucid Visual Collaboration Suite can help make documentation effortless.

Learn more

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About Lucidchart

Lucidchart is the intelligent diagramming application that empowers teams to clarify complexity, align their insights, and build the future—faster. With this intuitive, cloud-based solution, everyone can work visually and collaborate in real time while building flowcharts, mockups, UML diagrams, and more.

The most popular online Visio alternative, Lucidchart is utilized in over 180 countries by millions of users, from sales managers mapping out target organizations to IT directors visualizing their network infrastructure.

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