IT Documentation is the Key to Technician Efficiency
The importance of documentation in information technology cannot be overstated. Having robust IT documentation standards is critical to the success of any managed services provider (MSP). To be as effective as possible, documentation should cover not only your customers’ hardware and software systems but also the standard operating procedures within your own MSP. In this article, we’ll illustrate why information technology documentation makes such a difference for MSP efficiency, dramatically improving customer satisfaction and technician training.
Documentation and MSP efficiency
Creating information technology documentation standards may seem like a chore. After all, you want to focus on fixing your customers’ issues, not writing down lists of hardware devices and lengthy step-by-step protocols. But MSPs that ignore documentation do so at their peril. The reason is simple: documentation is the bedrock of efficiency.
Without written standard operating procedures, MSP technicians are forced to come up with their own solutions every time they face a customer problem. This means continuously reinventing the wheel, which results in wasted time and energy. With documented protocols, on the other hand, an information technology professional can rely on the tried-and-true expertise of his or her colleagues.
When a technician is confronted with a situation they have never seen before, their first step should be to search for it in the documentation database. With the proper documentation in place, technicians will find stepwise guides to resolving the issue. There’s no need to spend time trying to figure things out on their own or desperately conducting Google searches for information. When technicians do come across a situation that hasn’t yet been documented, they should be sure to write down the solution to help colleagues who confront the same issue in the future. This cycle leads to information technology process improvement over time.
Another benefit of written documentation is the ability to avoid errors. When a tech is working from memory, they’re more likely to neglect a significant step or choose an improper setting. Surgeon Atul Gawande’s influential book The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right extols the value of checklists in high-stakes settings, from airplane cockpits to operating rooms. The same applies to IT environments. By following a detailed checklist, an MSP technician will be far less likely to fall prone to costly mistakes.
Documentation and customer service
Documentation also contributes to superior customer service. There are few things that annoy customers more than having to repeatedly explain the same information to MSP technicians. This might be describing details of their system or narrating the same issue multiple times when transferred from one technician to another. Documentation procedures head off these issues, bringing greater customer satisfaction.
With the ins and outs of customer networks cataloged, MSPs can avoid having to ask customers for system details by simply referring to the documented knowledge databases. The first technician to talk to a customer about an issue should write a clear description of the problem in the service database. That way, if the customer calls again and speaks with someone else the new tech will have all the pertinent details at their fingertips without having to ask for a repeat explanation. These little things go a long way for customer satisfaction and retention.
Documentation and technician training
When done right, documentation can dramatically improve information technology professional development. Managers at MSPs know that bringing a new employee up to speed can take months; the employee cannot contribute full productivity until the training is complete. Therefore, anything that speeds up training will lead to gains in efficiency and profitability—as the old adage goes, time is money.
Armed with the right documentation, employees can largely train themselves, reading through procedures and only asking colleagues for help when something is unclear. This frees up experienced techs to do the actual work of serving customers rather than spending all of their time training new employees.
A documentation software solution
Any MSP looking to up its documentation game needs to implement the right IT documentation software. SolarWinds® Passportal + Documentation Manager is a complete documentation solution specifically designed to meet the needs of MSPs. Featuring streamlined customer incident resolution, web domain and SSL certificate tracking, relationship mapping, asset management, and both built-in and fully customizable templates, Passportal can improve MSP efficiency, technician training, and customer satisfaction.
For more information on IT documentation, read through our related blog articles.
- Why IT Documentation and SOPs Matter
- Standardize Network Documentation to Scale Efficiently
- Why Every MSP Needs a Password Manager
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