Seven IT Documentation Best Practices

Standardize documentation, build it into existing workflows, check for accuracy, and use information for training and to build client trust.

IT documentation can benefit your managed services provider (MSP) or value-added reseller (VAR) business with greater efficiency, productivity, and accuracy. It does, however, require an investment of time and, to manage your library of information most effectively, an IT documentation solution. As with any investment in your business, when you establish IT documentation as a part of your operation, you’ll want to make sure you get the maximum value from it.

Here are seven IT documentation best practices to follow to help your business see ROI:

1Decide what to document

It’s unrealistic to log every detail of client interactions, but, on the other hand, you want to capture all the information you need. MSPs and VARs need hardware and software application inventories, passwords, and service histories, but your team may find it helpful to have more data at your fingertips like customer website and email accounts and user information. It can also be helpful to work through scenarios like onboarding a client, taking a support call, workstation deployment, handling on-site service, or managing project work to determine the information your team should collect to address those processes efficiently.

2Determine who has the information

Documenting client or internal data is best handled first-hand. People closest to the project should document — and not hand scribbled notes over to someone else to interpret and key in. Assign documentation of specific types of information to your employees closest to the tasks.

3Standardize how information is documented

Choose a template that your team can use to standardize documentation, and make fields for vital information required. A template will make it faster and easier for your team to enter information, and it will also help people find what they’re looking for more quickly.

4Establish documentation as part of your operations

Consider integrating an IT documentation solution with professional services automation (PSA) or remote monitoring and management (RMM) so it becomes a part of your team’s workflow. If techs have to exit one system and open a separate documentation solution, there’s more risk that it won’t happen or that they won’t get around to it until some important details are forgotten. Integration will also allow them to save time and may enable some data to be automatically documented.

5Make sure information is accurate

IT documentation gives you a chance to capture tribal knowledge — and to weed out what’s incorrect. Three different employees could approach a problem in three different ways. Documentation can reveal discrepancies and give you the chance to retrain techs if needed. If you use an IT documentation solution, it may give you the ability to set up alerts to managers when tech enter new information so they can review and approve it.

6Share information with your customers

In addition to enabling your team to work more efficiently and profitably, IT documentation can also be a value-add. Share information and reports to demonstrate to your clients that you are systematically managing information vital to their IT environment and their business continuity. You may also want to consider running a sample report for prospects to demonstrate that you share information and are committed to transparency with your clients.

7Use documentation for training

IT documentation can shorten the learning curve for new hires. You can use documented information in formal training or address new tech’s questions as they review information about specific clients.

Don’t Stop with Documenting Client Data

You can increase the value you get from an IT documentation solution by also using it for internal data. Treat your MSP or VAR business like a “client” in your system, documenting all vital information for your own operation. Remember to include non-technical departments such as HR and accounting, so processes like onboarding or payroll are documented in case those personnel leave your company or are unavailable.

Following IT documentation best practices will not only give you the peace of mind that vital information will be accessible when you and your team need it. It will also assure you that IT documentation is paying off for your business.

The former owner of a software development company and having more than a decade of experience writing for B2B IT solution providers, Mike is co-founder of XaaS Journal and DevPro Journal.