A Beginner's Guide to IT Documentation for MSPs
As a managed services provider (MSP), you know the importance of keeping your customers satisfied by providing them with efficient, high quality services. You likely rely on your employees for any number of critical tasks, including their direct work with their customers. But if your critical information and processes only live inside the heads of your employees, you’re likely wasting time and resources via redundant operations and onboarding.
Not only are you wasting time, you’re also putting your MSP at risk by not carrying out proper client documentation. For example, if an employee suddenly leaves the organization, they may take client-specific knowledge with them and force your MSP to start the relationship from scratch. Keeping that kind of disaster from occurring is just one of the reasons that consistent, thorough IT documentation is critical to the long-term success of an MSP.
What is IT documentation and why is it important?
At its core, IT documentation is simply an organized survey of all the information an IT team needs to operate effectively. Documentation involves creating written records of all key business information, which can be referred to for onboarding or simply to help technicians run more efficiently. Strong documentation should include everything from details about your customers to step-by-step guides for specific operations. Essentially, it exists so MSPs don’t need to keep reinventing the wheel.
The importance of IT documentation has been overlooked for too long, but its many benefits cannot be overstated. At its core, IT documentation is about increasing efficiency. Increased efficiency leads to increased productivity, which means you can more easily grow your business and make more money. That may seem like an oversimplification, but many MSPs don’t realize just how much time and money they’re losing due to a lack of IT documentation.
Here are just a few of the specific benefits that make IT documentation important:
- Reduce your wasted time and improve consistency. Without clear, documented processes, many individual employees are likely wasting a few minutes here and there every single day. This may not seem like a lot of time in the short run, but it can truly add up across your business. For example, if there isn’t an outlined standard procedure for completing a task, processes will inevitably vary across staff members. Choosing one efficient method to document for all your staff to refer to will save time and improve consistency. Documentation also saves you time and energy when training new hires, since they can learn from clear step-by-step processes instead of needing to rely entirely on an already-busy employee to train them.
- Make fewer errors. When you leave processes—especially complex ones—up to individual discretion, errors are almost guaranteed. With clear, detailed documentation, your employees can have a guide to utilize as they get up to speed, ensuring reduced errors.
- Protect your business. Whether it’s about your customers or about specific processes, having critical information stored exclusively in the mind of a single technician is incredibly risky. Without ensuring this information exists elsewhere in the organization, you put the future success of your organization in the hands of one technician—which can leave you scrambling to provide support to customers if that specific employee leaves unexpectedly. With consistent documentation, you can keep your MSP business protected against the unexpected.
How to make your IT documentation effective
Good IT documentation is defined by clarity and comprehensiveness. Any information that is omitted could cause serious problems down the road, so the best approach is to try to provide as much detail as possible when first documenting all your information.
The information that MSPs should collect for effective documentation falls into two general categories: customer data and internal data. Customer data includes all the details of your customers’ IT environments, as well as information on any previous IT issues and how you went about solving them. Internal data includes documentation of all the processes related to your business operations, such as information policies, security policies, and more.
While it’s critical you have all this information documented, that documentation is only useful and effective if it’s written clearly and organized well. Make sure that you write your processes in simple language without jargon to ensure that anyone could execute your standard processes in an emergency.
It’s also imperative that you update your documentation regularly to make sure it’s both relevant and useful. MSPs should instruct employees to always update IT documentation whenever they establish a new procedure, onboard a customer, or install new software or hardware.
Getting started with IT documentation and organization
Beginning IT documentation can often feel intimidating due to the overwhelming amount of information that needs to be recorded. The best way to get started is to just dive in by documenting small repetitive tasks and move out from there. The reality is that documentation is a significant time commitment, especially in the beginning. It’s important to remember that the time you spend documenting is time that will be saved in the future. Your technicians will thank you once all relevant customer information is at their fingertips.
For all your work to pay off, it’s critical that you have all that documentation clearly organized and accessible. While it’s possible to perform documentation manually, using IT documentation software maximizes your efforts and makes the process that much easier. Documentation software not only saves you time, it also provides tried-and-true frameworks to guide your work. SolarWinds® Passportal + Documentation Manager enables powerful password management alongside a fully featured documentation manager to simplify the process for MSPs. With Passportal + Documentation Manager, beginning the documentation process no longer has to be intimidating.
- 7 Secrets to Successful Documentation Management
- IT Documentation is the Key to Technician Efficiency
- Top 3 Things You Need to Document in Your MSP Business
SolarWinds® adds Passportal suite to its MSP product portfolio. MSP security, simplified. SolarWinds® Passportal + Documentation Manager is a SOC 2 certified, RAPID 7 tested, award winning platform.
Grow your business faster with the world's first unified platform for true password management and secure IT documentation. More than 2,000 best-in-class MSPs around the world are leveraging our security, automation, and rapid access client knowledge to out preform the competition.