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Your internal product documentation — what is in and what is out

Effective product development relies on well-defined processes and information. Keeping internal product documentation organized and up to date helps product teams improve collaboration, reduce errors, and deliver value to customers faster. This is why it is so important to know what type of information to record and where it should live. When you build clarity around the type and placement of different product resources, you help the team navigate product-building more effectively and achieve better results.

Let's agree on some definitions first. When we say "internal documentation," we are referring to any documentation the cross-functional product team and other stakeholders need access to in order to plan, build, and deliver your product. This typically includes items such as foundational product documents, industry best practices, team processes, documents for capturing knowledge, and training docs for new hires. In the past, people referred to the hubs these documents live in as intranets or wikis. This is different than the content you publish in an external-facing knowledge base. And different, too, from the daily product work (think roadmapping, feature prioritization, and release planning) that takes place within roadmapping software.

In a perfect world, your internal product docs are consolidated and organized in a digital notebook or central knowledge hub, such as Aha! Notebooks. That way, everyone can access and reference shared documentation at any time.

But for most product teams, the reality is that your documentation is scattered across different tools and formats. Some of it is outdated or not in the right place. You might have a backlog of docs you have not been able to create yet. Or you are not super confident about what even needs documenting in the first place.

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A centralized hub for storing key product knowledge and meeting notes

Create and organize documents into folders and encourage cross-team collaboration.

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Why do product teams need a central knowledge hub?

It takes a lot of mental bandwidth (and time!) to scour folders across disconnected tools to find that specific use case diagram you are looking for or an important process document. And if you are struggling to remember where everything lives, imagine what it might be like for a new team member just getting started (or a key stakeholder who has limited time to provide feedback). A central repository of shared, easily accessible documentation enables the entire team to get the information it needs — fast.

But it is not just about consolidating docs. Done well, a central knowledge hub serves as your product playbook: sharing with the team how the organization makes product decisions and how teams work together to deliver a Complete Product Experience to customers. If you use a tool such as Aha! Notebooks, it also serves as a collaborative workspace for ideation thanks to whiteboards and guided templates.

In the throes of daily product management work, making time to consolidate and update documentation might not feel like an immediate need. But the benefits of centralizing this information will far outweigh the time investment. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Alignment: Simplifying and sharing knowledge fosters team cohesion. It instills a shared sense of ownership and promotes consistency in everyone's contributions.

  • Clarity: When everyone grasps core team responsibilities, expected workflows, and the "why" behind product decisions, collaboration is streamlined — with less room for confusion.

  • Efficiency: Team members feel empowered to do their best when they can find the right resources. Standardizing information strategically and within one tool can help.

  • Value: Keeping everything in one place facilitates transparency and condenses feedback loops. Your team can build a lovable product faster and deliver greater customer value.

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What resources should you include in a knowledge hub?

Goodbye, outdated internal wikis and superfluous file storage systems. A product knowledge hub such as Aha! Notebooks replaces these and gives you a dedicated space to store documentation, collaborate on early-stage plans, and gain alignment from stakeholders.

So, what is in and what is out? We recommend segmenting the notes and documents in your knowledge hub into six categories or "parent" folders. These can apply no matter which software you use:

  1. Foundational product documents

  2. Industry best practices

  3. Market research

  4. Team processes

  5. Knowledge-capture documents

  6. Training documents

Let's break these categories down a bit more.

Foundational product documents

This is where crucial information about your product lives, such as your product's purpose, target customers, and market opportunities. It becomes the go-to folder for people seeking an overview of core elements that shape your product strategy. Examples of this kind of documentation include:

Industry best practices

Store agreed-upon best practices or methodologies in this folder. Examples of this kind of documentation include:

Market research

Use this folder to house valuable information about your overall market environment, current and prospective customers, and competitors. Keeping this research up to date will help you consistently meet market demands. Examples of this kind of documentation include:

Team processes

How do you get work done both as a product team and with your peers in sales, marketing, and support? This folder should include notes and workflows that build alignment and transparency. Examples of this kind of documentation include:

A filled-out decision tree template

Use the decision tree template in Aha! Notebooks to analyze new pricing models, evaluate potential features, or identify product marketing activities to pursue.


Knowledge-capture documents

Knowledge-capture docs are the output of the team's collaboration and exploration. Keeping your collective thinking all in one place enhances the visibility of new ideas, important updates, and even challenges — helping everyone stay in the loop. Examples of this kind of documentation include:

A template for robust meeting notes

Use this meeting notes template to promote accountability. Assign responsibility for follow-up tasks and establish timelines for completing them.


Training

This is where you store relevant training materials for new hires. Maintaining a consolidated view of onboarding information can help shorten ramp-up time and ensure that learning is accurate and valuable. Examples of this kind of documentation include:

A filled-out organizational chart template

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Map out your company's roles and reporting structures using this organizational chart.


Of course, you might have other documents you want to include in your knowledge hub. A great starting point would be to initiate a brainstorming session with your team and put together a list of the documents you already have and others you want to create. Natural categories will likely reveal themselves, and you can start to form a plan around what to update, what to write, and how you will organize it all. (If you happen to be moving documents into Aha! Notebooks from Confluence, we have an importer tool you can use.)

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What types of work are best suited for your roadmapping tool?

Getting product documentation in order is foundational to the team's success. But you are also busy doing all of the other daily product work — updating the product roadmap, defining features, and sending work to engineering. This type of work should continue to happen within a roadmapping tool such as Aha! Roadmaps.

Here is how we split up work across the two types of tools:

A graphic comparing the differences between Aha! Roadmaps and Aha! Notebooks

All your early-stage thinking — such as brainstorms and initial feature wireframes — should live in your central knowledge hub. Once you have alignment, build out the plan in your roadmapping tool.


At a basic level, what you store in your knowledge hub is mostly evergreen or early-stage, whereas daily decisions and tasks happen over in a roadmapping tool. It might help to think in terms of unstructured planning versus structured product work. Early-stage product plans and initial strategies can flow freely in notes and whiteboards in your product hub. Once product goals and initiatives firm up, shift to your roadmapping software.

But in reality, some of the designations above do not really matter when you use a single platform. Aha! Notebooks is integrated into Aha! Roadmaps so work can seamlessly flow between the two. For example, you can pull features from your roadmap over to a whiteboard during work sessions. Similarly, you can embed a whiteboard in an Aha! record (like an initiative, feature, or requirement) to add visual context to the work.

You can see examples of this in the video below:

See how to use notebook capabilities to build a product information hub and put an end to document chaos.

Read more

What is roadmap software? Key features of roadmap tools

How do you build a successful product? It starts with a breakthrough idea to solve a real problem.

Use our product roadmap template

Show the direction of your product and the work needed to turn product vision into reality

What's new with Aha! Roadmaps?

Learn about the latest enhancements and new functionality available in Aha! Roadmaps.

Maintaining organized and updated internal product documentation aligns everyone around the product development resources needed to drive success. Take it one step further by using a tool that integrates your product knowledge hub with detailed product development work — connecting powerful ideas and information to the innovation they fuel.

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Read more

What is roadmap software? Key features of roadmap tools

How do you build a successful product? It starts with a breakthrough idea to solve a real problem.

Use our product roadmap template

Show the direction of your product and the work needed to turn product vision into reality

What's new with Aha! Roadmaps?

Learn about the latest enhancements and new functionality available in Aha! Roadmaps.