Have you ever wondered how an IT technician is able to immediately pick up the project from where the last one left off? It’s not uncommon for IT issues to switch hands. This is true whether you have an internal IT department or use a managed service provider (MSP). What enables specialists to get right to work regardless of whether they’re the person you talked to initially is IT documentation.
IT documentation is the process by which technicians record and track detailed information related to technical work. This includes how to execute a process or program and the exact steps needed to do so efficiently. It’s essentially a guide meant to get everybody up to speed without the need for training.
Here’s a perfect example of what the purpose of documentation is. Imagine you call your MSP to fix an IT problem, but it can’t be fixed before the end of the day. On top of that, the technician you spoke with is about to go on vacation. When you call the next day, a new person may answer the phone, but they already know what needs to be done because the previous technician created a document with all of the needed information.
Over time, IT departments generate large sums of data. Without something to organize that data, the information often ends up scattered across several systems, software tools, and technicians’ memories. The objective of documentation is to bring all of that information together so anyone can access it when needed.
Here are a few reasons why IT documentation should be taken seriously:
Let’s say your most experienced employee suddenly decides to retire. If they leave none of their knowledge about clients or processes behind, that creates a gaping hole in your operations. You wouldn’t know what specifically to do with those clients, and you’d have to start your relationship with them from the beginning.
Everybody has their own way of doing things, but that can waste valuable time in some cases. Without proper IT documentation, technicians are likely to carry out tasks in different ways from each other. While some may do the job quickly, others may waste time trying to figure things out from scratch.
Clear and concise documentation ensures all employees carry out the same task in a set period of time. This is especially useful when creating standard operating procedures, improving workflow and promoting consistency across the board.
When you’ve been working with an MSP for several months or even years, you expect them to know your company and how you like things done. However, if you’ve only interacted with one IT specialist and all that knowledge resides in that person’s head, issues could pop up down the road. If that specialist isn’t available when you need them, your MSP won’t be able to provide the level of service you’re used to.
The problem with information being scattered in different places isn’t just poor organization. As technicians chase down the data they need, they waste valuable time that could be spent resolving your issue. As a result, downtime lasts longer and you lose more money being unable to work.
When processes—especially complex ones—are left up to individual discretion, it should come as no surprise when errors happen. IT analysts need clear, detailed instructions so they know exactly what to do from the get-go. With the help of documentation, avoidable errors are kept to a minimum.
IT specialists are experts at handling sensitive information. However, depending on what industry you operate in, the rules for managing that data can differ. Documentation provides an outline of how that data needs to be accessed, stored, processed, and shared. This helps greatly with maintaining your company’s compliance.
After the last year and a half, more employees than ever are working remotely. Since we’re still in the midst of the pandemic, it’s possible that your technician is also telecommuting. That means they can’t just lean over and ask a colleague for insight. They need to be able to find the information they need virtually. IT documentation allows that information to be stored where the specialist can access it from wherever they’re working.
One of the main reasons organizations hesitate to implement IT documentation is because they’re afraid it’ll take too much time. However, it’s quite the opposite. While it does take a bit of work to get everyone on the same page, IT documentation can save a lot of time in the long run.
A few good ways to start the process include:
- Get your team together and collect information about their current processes, standards, and needs.
- Brainstorm with your team to create internal standards you think are important for the department.
- Using the internal standards you came up with, create a guide and train the team on the documentation.
The more precise your IT documentation is, the easier it is for everyone to follow. It should also be comprehensive, as leaving anything out could lead to problems down the road. The information you collect in the documents should fall into one of two categories: internal data or customer data.
The Logic Group is an industry-leading IT provider dedicated to helping your company achieve its technology goals. We offer an array of IT solutions that are customized to fit the specific needs of your business. If you’d like to learn more about our services, contact us today.