A Hub and Spokes Model for Documentation on Large Projects

March 30, 2023

As projects grow it can be difficult to keep track of all of the documentation associated with them. Between product requirements documents, design documents, meeting notes, and architecture decision records it can be easy to find yourself lost in a forest of Google Documents trying to find that one document which has the information you need. A while ago a friend told me about a simple model to manage this complexity on large projects, something he called "the hub and spokes" model of project documentation.

How's it work?

The basic idea of the hub-and-spokes model is simple: you create a central document (a hub) which serves as an entrypoint into the project. Oftentimes this is some central "why are we doing this thing" document like a product requirements document or a project brief. You then use that to link out to smaller documents (notes, decision logs, scoping documents) which describe a more focused topic. Within the more focused document you include a backlink to the "hub" so that folks can walk up the stack.

This approach isn't necceary in tools like Confluence which automatically create a documentation tree, but they take a little more discipline when you're just using a raw documents tool like Google Docs.

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