The ICT Lounge
Section 7.7:
Stage 5 - Documentation
Once the new system has been developed, two sets of documentation needs to be produced for the following reasons:
  • To record exactly how the system was created
  • To explain how to use the system.
The first set of documentation is known as technical documentation and the second set is known as user documentation.
Key Concepts of this section:
Understand what is meant by System Documentation.
Know the difference between technical documentation and user documentation.
Be able to describe the differences between the two sets of documentation.

Stage 5 - Documentation
Key Words:
Technical documentation, User documentation.
What is system documentation?

System documentation explains how the system was created and also how to use it.

Documentation takes place during the fifth
stage of the systems lifecycle.
Two sets of documentation are produced for a new system, for the following reasons:

Technical documentation
Technical documentation is produced for the benefit of future developers of the system.

This explains how the system was developed and includes information such as hardware and software requirements, file structures and coding used.

(Click this link here for more information)

User documentation
User documentation is produced for the benefit of the intended users of the system.

This explains how to use the new system and will include information such as how to log into the system, how to save files and how to print system data.

(Click this link here for more information)

Both types of system documentation are discussed in more detail below:

Technical Documentation
Why is technical documentation needed?
How system database tables are linked will be shown and described in technical documentation.
(Click image to zoom)
How data travels around the system would be described using flow charts. (Click image to zoom)
System coding is included and described using annotations. (Click to zoom)
Technical documentation is created for the benefit of analysts, designers and programmers who may work on the system in the future.

Technical documentation explains exactly how the system was created.

Technical documentation covers every aspect of the system's development
in minute detail.

This gives future analysts, designers and programmers the knowledge needed to maintain/repair/improve the system.

What is included in technical documentation?
Technical documentation consists of the following information:
  • The purpose of the system - description of the problem that the system solves
  • Hardware requirements - listing of hardware needed to run the system (processor speeds, minimum hard disk capacity etc.)
  • Software requirements -
  • Memory (RAM) requirements - what is the lowest and recommended amount of RAM needed to run the system?
  • Copies of all system designs - designs for input screens and output screens will be described in terms of sizing, layout and colour schemes etc.
  • Copies of system flow charts - these show how data will flow through the new system
  • Explanations of file structures (tables) used - this will include table's field names, data types and how tables are linked (in relational database)
  • The programming language used to code the system - this will make it easier to hire competent programmers in the future (hire people who know the language)
  • Listings of the code - how the code joins together and annotations that explain what the code does etc.
  • Details of system bugs - fixing known bugs would be a priority of future work done on the system
  • User interface designs - descriptions of what each form control (text box, check box etc.) is used for
  • Input formats - what kind of data will the system accept?
  • Output formats - what kind of data can the system produce? What does it look like?
  • Validations rules used - description of each error control method and the reasons behind including each one
  • Meanings of errors messages - descriptions of what system error messages mean and how to remedy the error
  • Testing information (test plans, test data used and results) - information on how each system module was tested and the outcome of the test.

User Documentation
Why is user documentation needed?
A user guide for an old computer system.
Hardware/software and operating system requirements will be shown in user documentation. (Click image to zoom)
Error message are explained in user documentation. This error message shows an error with the system printer. (Click image to zoom)
User documentation is created for the benefit of anyone who is expected to use the system.

User documentation explains exactly how to use the new system

User documentation is essentially a training manual that helps people
learn the new system.

What is included in user documentation?
User documentation consists of the following information:
  • The purpose of the system - explains what the system can be used for
  • Hardware requirements - listing of hardware the user needs to run the system
  • Operating system required - which operating systems can be used to run the system (Windows, Mac OS etc.)
  • How to open/load the system
  • How to log in and log out of the the system
  • How to search for system data
  • How to input new data
  • How to amend data
  • How to sort data
  • How to save files
  • How to print files
  • How to handle system errors / The meaning of error messages - user documentation will describe what has caused the error and how it can be solved
  • Frequently asked questions (FAQs) - known problems or questions that users may have will be described here along with the answers that go with them
  • Trouble shooting guides - these tell the user how to identify what has gone wrong with the system and what can be done about it
  • Help guides / Tutorials - these help the user learn how to use the main features of the system.



Click the above task and answer the questions about the Documentation Stage.

Please add your questions/comments below:

Links to Theory Units:
Section 4: Networks and the Effects of using them
Section 6: ICT Applications
Section 8: Safety and Security
Section 9: Audience
Section 10: Communication
Links to Practical Units:
Section 11: File Management
Section 12: Images
Section 13: layout
Section 14: Styles
Section 15: Proofing
Section 16: Graphs and Charts
Section 17: Document Production
Section 18: Data Manipulation
Section 19: Presentations
Section 20: Data Analysis
Section 21: Website Authoring