IT documentation (which is our business’s bread and butter) greatly benefits organizations of all sizes and across all industries. With solid IT documentation, you can: reduce […]

IT Documentation Best Practices

IT documentation (which is our business’s bread and butter) greatly benefits organizations of all sizes and across all industries. With solid IT documentation, you can: reduce […]

image of tablet with the words 'best practices' on it'

IT documentation (which is our business’s bread and butter) greatly benefits organizations of all sizes and across all industries. With solid IT documentation, you can:

  • reduce the amount of time to find information
  • decrease troubleshooting time
  • manage capacity
  • wrangle in the assets and inventory of your IT infrastructure

Proper and up-to-date documentation gives your IT and network staff the power to be more efficient, productive, and to focus on their core functions.

Despite these benefits, IT Documentation often falls by the wayside..that is, until an audit pops up, an outage needs to be traced, or future expenditures need to be planned and IT documentation (or the lack thereof) gets thrown into the spotlight.

“Where is it? Is it current? Why don’t we have it? Why is it so outdated?” …I could go on and on….

Though finding the right IT diagram solution is essential — but, as with most investments in your business, the more you put in, the more you get in return. Establish IT documentation as a part of your standard operating procedure to maximize your investment dollars.

Below are seven best practices for IT documentation that will help your business see a sizable return on investment:

1.Identify

At Graphical Networks, we often say ‘you can’t manage what you don’t know’. Along these lines, you can’t have good documentation if you don’t document the right stuff.

You need to establish what you need documented and visualized. Do you, for example, need a network topology diagram showing your core routers and switches? What about layer 2 with servers and VLAN information? Office space with wall jacks, printers, workstations? How about data center and telecom rooms?

There are so many items that we have seen from customers who use our IT documentation software netTerrain. What are the most important tasks you need to accomplish with IT documentation?

Further, which attributes and data do you need to access? Do you need information about hardware, software applications, passwords, warranty, cost?

2.Locate

To document the network, you need to know where your information is. If Bob, your network guy (with all of the information about your network in his head) is about to retire, you have a problem. Wouldn’t it be nice to get his knowledge into your new system?

Do you have existing spreadsheets, Visio diagrams, or existing data sources that are accurate and you can trust, to populate your new documentation repository and system? Which departments need to be involved to capture the information?

3.Automate

Automation and IT documentation go hand-in-hand. The easier it is to adopt your IT documentation system and implement it company-wide, the more widely used it becomes…and the more work you eliminate. When everyone’s on board, you can stop playing the guessing game of “when was this diagram last updated…can i trust this data?”.

Automation, such as the kind netTerrain provides, brings in all of your data – from third-party vendors, homegrown systems, weekly import of spreadsheets, etc. It saves you time and increases the accuracy of your data.

4.Standardize

Standardize your documentation. As mentioned earlier, you need to come up with data fields that show your IT equipment: make the fields uniform.

An example: Windows 10 can be written so many different ways, from W10, Windows 10, Win 10, etc. Choose a field format and stick with it. This makes it easier for your team to enter and view information, and for example, with netTerrain’s search feature, it will also help your IT staff to find what they’re looking for much more quickly.

5.Enforce

IT documentation needs to be included as part of your operations. Make this part of your IT staff processes so that it becomes a part of your team’s workflow processes.

Without change management, you risk having incomplete or outdated documentation; your IT staff, when making a change to your IT equipment, for example, may have forgotten to enter the data or you just didn’t get around documenting it (and the task that was completed has now been left out and forgotten). Enforce that change management processes are adhered to, from the top down.

6.Share

Provide a value-added service to your clients and customers (internal and external consultants, system integrators, your clients): share information and reports to demonstrate to your clients that you are systematically managing information vital to their IT environment (and their business continuity).

7.On-board

You are new to the job and don’t have a clue on what’s on the network and what IT equipment your company has… IT documentation is a lifeline that leads to faster on-boarding for new employees. With IT documentation, a new hire can view all of the information at his or her fingertips. I’ve heard this so many times: “I am new here and have no idea what’s on my network.” Proper IT documentation shortens the learning curve for new hires.

Following IT documentation best practices will not only give you the peace of mind that IT information can be accessible when you or your company need it. IT documentation is vital to businesses that depend on the IT infrastructure and should be a top priority project. By employing these best practices you’ll ensure that your investment in IT documentation pays off for your business.

Fred Koh
Fred Koh
As a seasoned sales executive, Fred Koh serves as Director of Sales and is responsible for Graphical Networks sales and channel partner program, marketing strategy, and operations.

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