How to Establish a Documentation Rhythm

BY IT GLUE | August 27, 2018

You’re all in on documentation, right? Sure, you say, but wanting to document isn’t the same thing as actually doing it. Even if you have a giant documentation blitz after signing up for IT Glue, all that wonderful documentation risks going stale-dated if you don’t have a plan to keep it up-to-date. So how do you get your team into a documentation rhythm where documentation is part of the ingrained culture of your organization? Here’s seven tips on how to establish a documentation rhythm.

Tip #1 – Automate

We talk about automation a lot because it really is essential to mastering documentation. The more work is automated, the less work your techs have to do. The less work your techs have to do, the easier it is to keep your documentation up to date. Take advantage of our integrations, or build your own with our API.

Tip #2 – Set Aside Time to Document

If documentation is something you’ll do “when we aren’t so busy”, it will never get done. Set aside a specific amount of time for documentation. Start by setting aside just enough to make sure the most important things are documented. Use the MSP Information Hierarchy to guide you. But make sure if you want your team to spend x amount of time on documentation each week that they do it, and are not constantly distracted by other items. In other words, move documentation up the priority list so that time set aside for documentation is actually used for documentation. If you don’t treat it like a priority, your team won’t either.

Tip #3 – Set clear objectives

It’s easier to get things done when you know exactly what you need to do. You, or your in-house Documentation Evangelist™, will want to set clear goals for the team to follow when they have their pre-set documentation time. Use the Checklists feature to structure their work, and hold them accountable for completion.

Tip #4 – Use SMART goals

Checklists are great for individuals working for specific periods of time, but managing documentation at the high level means having SMART goals. It is from these goals – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound – that the individual checklists will be built. Basically, whatever your documentation goals are for the month or quarter, that should be the sum of all the work done in each individual’s different checklists for that time period. Getting this alignment right is critical because it keeps people on task, holds them accountable and ensures that those tasks serve the purpose of achieving the overall organizational goal.

Tip #5 – Gamify

You don’t have to do this, but in our experience, carrots work better than sticks as far as building a documentation culture is concerned. Use IT Glue’s in-house Engagement feature, or use a third-party employee recognition system like CrewHu, which is integrated with IT Glue, to provide rewards for jobs well done.

Tip #6 – Lead

None of this works if the leaders don’t lead. If you’re not gung-ho about documentation, you will need somebody else on your team who is. That’s your Documentation Evangelist, the person who is passionate about documentation, sees the value, and can help to motivate the rest of the team.

Tip #7 – Be persistent

As with all things in life, persistence is one heck of a valuable asset to have when it comes to building a documentation rhythm. There’s always going to be challenges, whether it’s people going on vacation or workloads getting crazy. But what we’ve found is that companies that rely on sporadic, ad hoc documentation just don’t get as much of it done as companies that structure how, when, and by whom documentation will be completed, and then stick to that structure. When documentation becomes a part of your regular workflow, it will be much easier to maintain excellent documentation and then leverage that for competitive advantage.

Establishing a rhythm for documentation probably means changing some habits, in particular prioritizing time for documentation. Automation can help reduce how much time is needed, and other tactics can be used to motivate, but ultimately time, persistence and a clear vision of what a steady documentation rhythm mean are all critical to the success of this endeavor. To find out more about how IT Glue can help you improve the state of your MSPs documentation, and improve your operational maturity in the process, sign up for a demo today.

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Documentation is a source of competitive advantage. When your processes are well-documented, they move from being individual knowledge to team knowledge. You execute consistently, and do not waste time looking for information, because it’s always at your fingertips. Companies with a high level of documentation maturity enjoy higher revenue growth, increased cost savings and superior valuations. IT Glue can help you get there.

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