Here's a great tip I stumbled on while surfing through Postcards from the Revolution, a blog no longer updated but still interesting, by Mike Tarrani, Linda Zarate, and Kate Hartshorn. In his May 13, 2002 entry, Mr. Tarrani was writing about project management flaws, including the mandate that systems be documented. Sometimes, he says, that's simply a way for consultants — or service providers — to generate revenue. Where it's available, buy the documentation:
One other fallacy is to spend time developing documentation for systems when commercial documentation is available. During one engagement I was tasked with writing database administration policies and procedures. At my billing rate the final product ran into the tens of thousands of dollars. Aside from the fact that the document shortly became shelfware, the client could have purchased any of a number of excellent books in the $40-60.00 price range, and decreed that the procedures contained within were to be followed as a matter of policy. Selecting and recommending the best book from the many that were in a local book store would have saved a significant amount of money. Even better would have been to ask the DBAs to agree on the best commercially-available book and use it. The sorry fact is that, as I write this, there are consultants who are developing UNIX, Oracle and [pick your favorite application, database or operating system] documentation when excellent books may already be available.