Documenting Decisions

Posted on May 15 2009

One of the techniques we teach and encourage is in documenting decisions. The Decision Making Process may be a long exercise, one in which we should trace our steps along the way. If we do spending time documenting decisions, we can loop back, retrace our steps, or justify how we arrived at it without much effort.

Often, we are faced with exploring two or more alternatives in some detail. These may be two options that we have generated, or more often, multiple products that we are trying to decide between. When documenting decisions, how can we structure a report, if one is required, on our findings so that it flows and persuades the reader that our recommended approach is the right one?

Our potential options are:

1. Describe alternative 1, then describe alternative 2. Extend this to the correct number where applicable.

2. Describe our recommended alternative and the reason for choosing it over other alternatives.

3. Describe details for all alternatives together, side by side.

4. Describe the decision/recommendation before, or after the details

5. If possible, put everything together, in summary format, on one page.

There are many ways to graphically depict decisions, and they completely depend on the type of decision. Product decisions usually include verbage around options and comparisons to other product defects or downfalls. Decisions with respect to staff resourcing usually include organization charts, and very lengthy text descriptions of the current situation.

Decisions surrounding finances ALWAYS include spreadsheets, charts and numerical analysis. Use the actual results from Decision Making Tools embedded with recommendations here.

An additional point, which is especially important in Iterative Decision Making, is keeping copies of Prototype models and Data, as well as decision logs on the various steps and decisions arrived at throughout the iterations.

A final point – definitely document reasons why an alternative was not selected – this is your most valuable piece of information. When you are assembling your report, a lot of information, background analysis and a list of rejected alternatives, can go in the appendices if that suits the document style best!

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