Derrick Reimer

Changelogs For Everything

Changelogs are underrated. We software developers get some of them for free, courtesy of our Git logs and issue tracking systems. But the usefulness of a changelog extends beyond just code changes!

When building Drip, Rob and I used to maintain a Marketing Changelog. It was nothing fancy, just a Google Sheet with timestamps and descriptions of various marketing activities (changes to the website copy, ad campaigns, joint-promotional efforts, and so on). When we would notice a difference in our SaaS metrics, it was always helpful to cross-reference the Marketing Changelog to see if we could attribute it to something we did.

I recently made a round of improvements to our GDPR compliance for SavvyCal. SaaS GDPR expert Rie Aleksandra Walle recommends keeping a changelog for your compliance efforts:

Whenever you consider/check/decide on something, document it. If you decide you don’t need a DPO, the authorities might disagree, but you can significantly reduce the risk of a fine if you can prove you actually made a conscious decision.

I’m always wearing many hats in the business, so I’ve found my GDPR Changelog to be helpful for remembering past decisions I’ve made and questions I’ve answered for myself as I dip in and out of that project.

Like GDPR matters, I’ve been working on our sales tax compliance:

Each time I make progress, I drop a new timestamped summary in the Sales Tax Changelog document.

You don’t need any special tools to get started – a Google Doc is plenty! My changelogs are a burden off my mind. They are a place to accumulate knowledge visible to other team members. And I can rest easy knowing the effort I put into these fuzzier projects (that don’t fit neatly into a Git history log) will not get lost in the aether.

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