You may or may not have noticed, but the lack of (good) documentation results in a significant waste of time, energy and resources. Around 50% of employees in the U.S. think looking for things they need at work is more painful than going to the dentist. Ouch! They spend close to two hours every day looking for files, information or people they need at work.
Sound familiar? Let’s take a look at how we can solve this wastage problem for your IT team by taking a closer look at IT documentation.
What is IT documentation?
IT documentation is the process of systematically collecting and structurally organizing all your mission-critical IT information so your IT team(s) can easily access the right information (the information they need) at the right time (when they need it).
Now, it is possible that you are already doing this in some way, shape or form. After all, we do live in the “age of data.” But the trick is to do it right!
Trying to document a lot of data that’s spread out across different platforms and tools is a futile endeavor. This is called information sprawl, and when your information is sprawling, it’s hard to retrieve it on-demand.
When we talk about IT documentation, we mean:
- Documenting everything that is critical for your IT team(s)
- Documenting everything in a way that is easily accessible on-demand
- Documenting IT information to improve business operations across the board
At this point you are probably thinking, “That sounds great! But how do we document everything?” Well, let’s take a look.
Establishing order in IT documentation
We can document everything that we need by documenting in an orderly fashion — by systematically tackling various areas of interest for IT operations. Let’s look at some examples of what we mean.
Policies and procedures: Documentation of policies and procedures help set the guidelines for IT use within an organization. It explains what employees must do with company assets and sets standards to improve efficiency. Having IT policies and procedures also wards off security threats by increasing awareness among your teams. It helps manage technology in a corporate setting. Policies communicate your organizational values and set parameters for decision-making. They explain rules in a logical manner. Procedures, on the other hand, outline steps for implementing tasks. They help efficiently achieve desired outcomes.
Passwords: About 95% of cybersecurity issues are caused by human errors. Yet, you will still find employees and clients managing passwords on spreadsheets. Keep in mind that you can use secure password managers that are easy and offer security. Some of them integrate well with Chrome so documentation is quicker and automatic; you don’t have to manually copy-paste anything. They make logins less stressful and safer by prompting users to create strong passwords, etc. You can regulate access to passwords, easily reset them, and do a lot more with the latest advancements in password management and documentation.
Assets: Having your asset information spread thin isn’t a scalable solution. It’s good to document all your asset information in a central location so your asset management system can grow with your business. Putting a structure in place for your assets will help you make meaningful connections by giving you a comprehensive view of your entire network. You’ll also be able to proactively maintain your assets with a clear view of warranties that are running out, things that need to be replaced, etc. This in turn will help you plan your budget and get it approved early.
Vendors: This includes all processes and systems you use to manage your IT suppliers. Good IT vendor documentation and management can help you choose the right vendors according to the organization’s long-term goals. It will help you build mutually beneficial relationships with your vendors while helping you optimize your negotiations. It will, of course, help you track vendor KPIs and metrics so you can make sure that your SLAs are met. Lastly, it will help you manage risks from vendors and avoid data breaches and other security threats.
Users: Without good user management and documentation, it is going to be very difficult to track which user has access to what resources. With workforces scattered across multiple locations these days, it’s a serious challenge to eliminate security risks and optimize operational efficiency. A good IAM (Identity and Access Management) tool will allow you to maintain records of users and manage them across your entire organization with ease. You will also be able to easily manage user access through proper authentication and authorization mechanisms, and regulate user activity regardless of the number of users you have in your system.
Establishing order in your IT documentation by tackling various areas of interest will help you reduce inefficiencies while optimizing IT and business processes. Your IT documentation will act as a single source of truth and streamline your workflows. It will help you with quality control, knowledge recording and sharing, employee onboarding and training, and supporting compliance requirements.
Now that you can see the impact good IT documentation can have on your business, here’s how you can derive more value from your IT documentation.
Three key elements of IT documentation
Establishing good documentation is a strategic process. It’s not so much the volume of information you document but the value you can derive from the information you document. Focus on these three key elements:
- Document your infrastructure: This is the first step. Automate as much of this step as possible using your PSA, RMM and other tools, including APIs that can pull in critical information from other sources.
- Contextualize your documentation: Connect various elements of your infrastructure in your documentation. Link users to endpoints, workflows to your team’s work, etc., to spot and reduce inefficiencies wherever possible and optimize your business operations. Your documentation will come to life in this way and contribute more to your business or organization.
- Use documentation for business goals: Start looking at documentation with strategic eyes to see how you can increase automation, reduce workload for your teams, rapidly resolve tickets and achieve other business objectives.
Going from theory to practice
Here are some final tips on how you can put what we have discussed into practice.
Start now: If you have decided to leverage documentation, make it a priority and start taking action to make it a reality. The sooner you begin, the earlier your workplace will become more efficient.
Establish priorities: We believe it is possible to document everything. Start with what is most critical to document for your organization. Prioritize the documentation of information that will give you maximum benefits.
Set standards: Your documentation needs to be consistent, so make sure everybody is onboard and following the same formats throughout your organization.
Assign responsibilities: Accountability is key. Designate clear roles and responsibilities for documentation and review processes.
Incentivize participation: You cannot implement documentation without your team participating. Plan weekly rewards, contests and other means of getting your team members to become active participants in your documentation efforts.
Invest in a documentation tool: Manual documentation could potentially be worse than no documentation at all because you could end up wasting a lot of time without really impacting the bottom line. Invest in a documentation tool that can change the game for your organization and give you a competitive edge in the market.
Establish an update cadence: Ensure your documentation is well maintained and up to date by periodically reviewing the information you gather and optimizing your documentation processes.
Make IT documentation work for you
You lose out when you don’t have IT documentation or if you don’t do it right. Great IT documentation is a beautiful thing. Just like a Swiss Knife, it has many benefits and can cut through your organization’s inefficiencies to give you a competitive edge and build great relationships with your stakeholders, employees, vendors and customers. It can help your teams access the right information at the right time. If you do right by IT documentation, IT documentation will most certainly do right by you.
To discover how your organization can make the most of smart IT documentation, request a demo today.