We hear this one a lot. A partner is IT Glue, and even though they’re loving what it does for them, there’s still a bit of a gap when it comes to team adoption. Usually, we’re hearing this from an exasperated tech who’s been assigned the role of “person in charge of documentation”, which is often a thankless task with little help from teammates.
But wait – isn’t it better to have one person in charge? So that person can ensure that documentation adheres to a consistent naming convention and is filed correctly? Yes, that is true, but this doesn’t mean the one “documentation person” has to create all the documentation as well. When the librarian is also the author of all the books in the library, that’s going to be a pretty lousy library.
Documentation culture is awesome and allows you to get full value from your documentation system. But culture is something shared by a group of people; if it’s just one person, it’s not a culture. So let’s say you are the proverbial documentarian in your company. How do you spread the love of documentation across the entire organization?
It’s Not How Much Documentation You Have…
How you use your documentation matters. You can document the entire planet, but unless you’re using that information, it’s really just random data stored in a virtual box. There’s only so much value in that. So the first step in building a great documentation culture is to champion the use of the documentation you’ve so carefully curated.
If somebody needs to know something, show them how to find it. Work with your teammates to help them get better at documenting, and find ways to ensure that updating documentation is built right into their workflows.
If you make a point to ask people things like “Did you look in IT Glue?” and “Is it in IT Glue?”, that can also plant the seed that IT Glue is the source of all truth within your organization. Over time, this helps people think that a) they should look in IT Glue for information and b) they should put information into IT Glue to make sure that it’s there.
Break the Squirrel Mentality
Some folks don’t want to get involved in documenting because they feel more powerful if they hold exclusive knowledge. After all, knowledge is power, right? Well, if this is a problem at your MSP, we recommend two things. One is to make documentation a part of the job description, preferably with some KPIs to back it up. Formalize the role and value of documentation in the company.
The other is to emphasize the fact that the only powerful knowledge is team knowledge. Create a culture where squirreling away critical information is no longer an accepted norm. Make sure to ask people to put information in IT Glue, a lot if necessary, to continuously reinforce the need to document, and the need to use that documentation.
Positivity is powerful. The above recommendations can be done with any mix of aggressiveness, passive aggressiveness or positivity, but we definitely recommend taking the positivity route first. Offer incentives to create documentation, especially during the early period when you’re trying to get others to join you in documenting. It might take time to build the habits, so be prepared to reinforce behaviors until they stick. It’s the same with anything else, really. Focus on the positive aspects – why you’re doing it, and what every person will gain from it. Focus on why it’s important for everybody to contribute, not just you. And create incentives – and disincentives if necessary – to ensure that your team wants to document and will hold each other accountable for the state of the documentation.
Culture Doesn’t Quit
The beautiful thing about a documentation culture is that, after the hard work of establishing it, it won’t quit. It will be passed on throughout your team. Make sure your bosses know that, too. You see, if you’re the only one doing it, and the entire organization benefits, then those benefits are dependent on your continued employment. But if your bosses are encouraged by the results, and want those results to be truly sustainable, then they should be willing to support your efforts to shift from this mindset of having one documentation person to a mindset of having a documentation culture ingrained across the entire organization.
To learn more about how IT Glue can help get your mission critical information organized, and get you on the path to productivity gains, drop us a line, and we’ll help you start building a better documentation culture today.