The Importance of IT Documentation for a Transition to Remote Work

Whether temporarily or permanently, MSPs are enabling their clients to work remotely, and they need to document each change, new solution, and configuration.

IT Documentation

Among all of the curveballs that 2020 threw at businesses, maintaining the ability to access information vital to operations ranks at the top. You may have your own war stories to tell – people who needed to work from home but didn’t have passwords or licensing information, users who called you because they didn’t know the software that particular employees used, or desperate clients looking for warranty information. If you had all the information that you and your clients needed, recorded in IT documentation software, 2020 was a whole lot easier.

An IT documentation solution also made keeping up with recording vital information simpler and faster during a time of rapid change. A. Alex Cabral, CEO at SI Portal, says his team saw an increase in IT documentation use as managed services providers (MSPs) scrambled to keep up with new demands. “We received feedback from our MSPs stating that the increase in the remote workforce caused them to increase time spend on documentation,” Cabral says. “There was a lot of documentation going on as MSPs worked to get their customers on remote work platforms using features of their remote monitoring and management (RMM) tools to provide services to their customers.”

What to Document for Remote Users

For some MSPs, equipping users to work from home or remote locations was a new undertaking – and you still may be catching up. Information you should document for your clients who transitioned to a remote work model, either temporarily or permanently, includes:

  • Company-owned laptop or other device models, serial numbers, warranty information.
  • How each device is configured for each user.
  • The software that each employee uses, including license and passwords.
  • Virtual private network (VPN) configuration and details
  • Security solution configurations
  • PBX configuration for remote phone or fax service
  • Instructions, reviewed and tested, to enable each employee to connect remotely
  • Details of administrative accounts and who has administrative privileges

Cabal comments, “IT teams vary in the level of effort they put into documentation. Some like to share every detail, ensuring they can focus on work rather than looking for information. Others like to hold the information they find along the way and share it only when requested.”

In some cases, MSPs’ good documentation practices enabled them to use existing information to make the transition to remote work easier. But in other cases, work-from-home mandates impacting an MSP’s entire client base all at once may have revealed some gaps. Cabral says, “We provide MSPs with the tools to find those gaps and address them – but I hope they were able to address them before the surge occurred.”

If IT Documentation is a Part of Your Workflows, Stay the Course

Although MSPs without good IT documentation practices probably experienced aha moments this year, the challenges of 2020 really didn’t teach the industry anything new about IT documentation. In fact, 2020 helped to prove that using an IT documentation solution, especially one that makes employees accountable for documentation, is key to streamlined workflows, retaining vital information in an organized, searchable format, and quickly finding what you need so you can focus on the work at hand.

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.