The Importance of Documenting Your Work

Don’t trust a… finance department. 3OH!3 paraphrasing aside, I recently learned a valuable lesson in documentation.

My manager asked me to change the due date on a batch process we run from a week out to one day out. Suffice it to say, this was an easy change to implement in python, changing a “7” to a “1” for delta days. This was intended to expedite the processing and approval of the invoice, which is the product of the aforementioned batch process.

I made the change to the code, ran the batch, and submitted the invoice with it’s new due date. I ensured that the due date was correct in our AP system, and thought nothing more of it.

A few days later, another manager asked me why the due date for that process was still a week out. I said I changed that for sure, but went to check our AP system. Sure enough, the due date was indeed a week out! What? I went back and checked the TSV file as a sanity check, and the due date there was correct. So what gives?

In our AP system, there is a “created at” and “last modified” field, and they didn’t match. The invoice had been modified a mere four minutes after submission. I reached out to the user who was shown to have modified it, and sure enough, they had modified the due date, assuming it was a mistake on our part.

Fortunately for me, that’s where the trouble ended. I was able to pass this information along to both my manager and the other manager who asked about the due date. Since this work is tracked in JIRA, I now take screenshots of the invoice metadata in our AP system once they’ve been submitted, so I have an easy way to prove that I did my job correctly. I usually hate CYA work, but I sure needed it when I didn’t have it.