In the fast-paced world of software development we often neglect the importance of documentation. Driven by milestones, deadlines, and core tasks, we often don’t write down everything we’ve done within a single task or wider project. 

However, as developers, we must recognize that effective documentation is not just a formality—it is a crucial aspect of the development process that can significantly impact the success of a project.  

In this blog post, we’ll explore why documentation is essential and how it contributes to the overall health and sustainability of software projects. We will explore different aspects of software development in which keeping written tracks on everything done plays a significant role. 

Clear System Overview 

One of the primary benefits of documentation is that it provides a clear and concise overview of the system. Imagine joining a project mid-way or collaborating with a team member on a complex feature. Without a proper project log, understanding the existing system can be a difficult and time-consuming task.  

Well-documented code, on the other hand, serves as a roadmap, guiding developers through the architecture, logic, and functionality of the software. This understanding is invaluable for maintaining, debugging, and extending the codebase. 

On the other hand, we should be very careful when documenting (leaving comments) on individual parts of our code logic. Code itself is part of documentation and it should be self-explanatory – a crucial aspect of writing maintainable and understandable code. It reduces the need for extensive comments or external documenting tasks externally, as the logic and purpose are clear from the code itself. Here are some practices to help you make your code as self-explanatory as it gets: 

  • Use Meaningful Naming. Choose names that accurately reflect the purpose and role of classes, variables, and functions. Avoid cryptic abbreviations and opt for descriptive names that convey the intent. 
  • Follow Consistent Coding Conventions. Consistency in coding style helps in creating a predictable code structure. When developers follow a consistent coding convention, it becomes easier for others to understand the code. This includes consistent indentation, naming conventions, and formatting.  
  • Break Down Complex Logic into Smaller Function. Instead of writing long and complex functions, break down the logic into smaller, self-contained functions. Each function should have a single responsibility, making it easier to understand and test. 

However, there are some exceptions when it is almost mandatory to leave code comments: 

  • Non-self-explanatory code. Sometimes it is impossible to write easily understandable code and it can be hard to extract into a meaningful function. 
  • Workarounds and bug fixes. Libraries that we use can have their own bugs, and in those cases, we can have pieces of code which might seem out of place. Comments can explain the rationale behind these decisions, making it clear why an unconventional or non-intuitive approach was necessary. 
  • Backwards compatibility. If code is deprecated or should not be used in the future, comments can warn developers against using it and suggest alternatives. This is particularly important for maintaining legacy systems. 
  • Reasoning behind implementation. When a particular implementation decision might not immediately be obvious to someone new to the code, comments can clarify why this decision was made. This includes choices that might have significant trade-offs or implications. 

BM Insight: At BrightMarbles Group, we encourage our engineers to document everything they work on in a timely and organized manner, as described in this guide. We’re also keen on early testing and Agile development strategies that we apply across all your projects. Simply put, this methodology has proven more effective, making clients more satisfied with our work and our employees happier with the workflow. Check out our blog post on this topic Testing in Agile Development Techniques, written by our QA expert Dunja Ibročić.  

Onboarding and Collaboration 

Documentation is instrumental in onboarding new team members. It serves as a knowledge transfer tool, helping newcomers get up to speed quickly. A well-documented project reduces the learning curve, enabling developers to contribute effectively from day one. Instead of relying solely on direct communication with existing team members, new hires can independently study the documentation, which is especially beneficial in large or complex projects.  

When several team members collaborate on a project, this becomes a sort of shared language among our developers. It ensures that everyone is on the same page regarding coding standards, best practices, and project conventions.  

Code Maintenance and Future Development 

As software evolves, the need for maintenance and future development grows stronger. For maintenance tasks, including bug fixes, performance improvements, or updates, developers often need to work with code that they or their colleagues wrote some time ago.  

Properly written documentation – including code comments – API documentation, and software architecture documents, helps developers quickly understand how the existing code works and how different components interact with each other.  

This continuous process depends heavily on a clearly structured and adequately named hierarchy of completed, unfinished, and yet-to-start tasks. When developers revisit their code after some time, having comprehensive documentation can refresh their memory, saving valuable time and effort. Additionally, for projects that span years or involve different teams, detailed writings become a critical asset for ensuring continuity and preventing knowledge gaps. 

Well-documented code and systems allow developers to troubleshoot issues more effectively. Finally, documentation can provide insights into potential pitfalls, known issues, and troubleshooting steps, which speeds up the problem-solving process. 

BM Insight: A resourceful development system is vital to establish a trustworthy and fruitful collaboration with our clients. From digital product development to mixed or dedicated teams, it’s easier to jump on the client’s bandwagon or introduce the new prospect to our in-house softdev methodologies, strategies, and systems.  

Enhancing Communication with Stakeholders 

Engaging with and managing stakeholders in software development projects is a special skill. When we say stakeholders, we mean include clients, project managers, developers, testers, end-users, and anyone else who has an interest in the project.  

Well-written and arranged written materials provide a clear and consistent form of communication to all stakeholders. If everyone has access to the same information, there are fewer misunderstandings and misalignments regarding project goals, requirements, progress, and expectations. 

Decision-making also needs to be properly documented; architectural decisions – and their rationales – can be crucial for stakeholders to understand the long-term implications of these decisions on project scope, cost, and timelines. Such transparency supports bringing informed decisions and can help in gaining stakeholder understanding in critical decisions.  

Comprehensive documentation also demonstrates a commitment to transparency, contributing to building trust with stakeholders. It shows that the project team is organized, professional, and dedicated to meeting the project’s objectives, which can reassure stakeholders of the project’s viability and progress. In the long run, being meticulous about project documentation adds to the company excellence.  


In conclusion, documentation is an integral part of the software development lifecycle. It is an investment that pays dividends throughout the life of a project. As developers, we should prioritize creating and maintaining documentation as diligently as we do writing code. By doing so, we contribute to the overall success and sustainability of our projects, making them more resilient to changes and accessible to all those involved. 

Remember, the next time you’re tempted to skip documentation, think of it as an investment in the future health of your codebase and the success of your project. The benefits of clear and comprehensive documentation are immeasurable, and the time spent on it is time well spent. 

About Author 

Oliver Šipoš is a senior software engineer and a co-founder at BrightMarbles Group. With more than 15 years of experience in core software development as a developer and team lead, he makes a difference in every team he governs. Having successfully completed dozens of digital product development projects, Oliver is an invaluable professional asset and an engineering backbone of our corporate body.