[FEATURE RELEASE | 7 MIN READ] These seven best practices will help you implement a successful documentation management strategy, boosting your MSP’s efficiency and security.
Documentation management involves handling documents in such a way that allows you to create, organize, store, and share information and files. For managed services providers (MSPs), a documentation management strategy should make storing and referencing client knowledge as efficient and appropriate as possible.
As an MSP business grows, their storage of reports, spreadsheets, forms, and data—much of which is client documentation—increases. Over time, this can make your documentation management operations complicated and stressful. The following seven tips can help you develop a dependable documentation strategy that optimizes the capture, coordination, storage, retrieval, and management of all this information. Mastering this strategy can help increase operational efficiency and demonstrate compliance.
The benefits of an effective MSP document management strategy
First, let’s look at three of the major benefits of effective MSP documentation management solutions.
1. A centralized hub
The way your MSP stores documents directly impacts how easy it is to access, manage, share, and coordinate them. If you haven’t made a full transition to digital documentation storage, or you’re using a hybrid system with both digital and hard copy files, then you’re lacking a centralized location for all your important files. You may even have multiple departments, each with cabinets full of documents that facilitate day-to-day operations.
Even if you have made the transition to a digital documentation storage solution, this doesn’t necessarily mean your files are centralized. You may have some stored on your computer and others in a cloud-based storage system. By adopting a documentation management strategy and IT documentation software with specific and standardized policies, you can maintain all key documentation in one location.
A centralized hub for your files allows for the implementation of better control measures. If departments store their documents differently, documentation management can quickly become overwhelming, with misplaced documents and multiple file versions cropping up. When all your files are in one place, you can maintain full control over your documents and save your team a lot of confusion and frustration.
If you manage files at a departmental or individual level rather than a consistent, company-wide basis, finding documents can become challenging. Once you adopt and disseminate documentation management policies throughout your organization, it becomes far easier for employees to access documents when they need them.
Because a centralized hub is controlled in a precise and informed manner, your team members can quickly find the information they need. This will lead to less wasted time trying to locate key files, more efficient maintenance, and no more lost documents. Ease of access to key files can also facilitate greater productivity levels.
3. Increased flexibility and security
Implementing company-wide MSP documentation management protocols isn’t easy. Different departments will inevitably have different documentation management requirements, while different roles will need to have varying levels of access. Fortunately, effective strategies can offer increased flexibility, with many solutions featuring access rights management capabilities. This allows you to meet the varying operational needs within your organization.
For example, you can make files accessible to all relevant parties if multiple technicians utilize them. But for documents that hold sensitive client information or personal data, you can easily establish access permissions and limitations to prevent documents from being accessed by unauthorized individuals.
MSP documentation management best practices
The following MSP documentation management tips can help you establish a strategy that is secure, maximizes efficiency, and improves productivity. IT documentation software can help you easily achieve these seven best practices.
1. Ensure robust MSP documentation management system security
It doesn’t matter how successful or effective your documentation management strategy is if it doesn’t deliver robust security. A secure solution will need to limit file access and provide complete audit trails. It’s recommended that your team gets as specific as possible with its data security requirements, considering who can access what data from which devices.
If sensitive data is involved, you should have an especially robust strategy. To help ensure only authorized individuals have access to certain documents, you should take into consideration directory authentications, TLS protocols, and SSL technologies.
For businesses that have lifecycle management regulations, you may want to choose a solution that can automatically remove documents when they’re no longer required. This will eradicate the need to maintain a document destruction schedule, which can be time-consuming.
2. Establish and maintain user access and permissions
Part of establishing appropriate security measures for your document management strategy is setting up the appropriate user access rights. Most companies store confidential data in some capacity, which is why it is so important to keep that data out of the wrong hands. You should have user access policies in place that restrict users from accessing certain information based on their roles.
With IT documentation software that features access rights management functionalities, you can establish role-based security which lets you create user groups and preconfigured access rights. IT documentation software can also help you ensure that when a person leaves an organization, their access rights are revoked. It's crucial you properly maintain and monitor access rights, which is why using IT documentation software with built-in access rights management capabilities is so important.
3. Create consistency
If you don’t establish consistent naming policies for your documents, finding the right files becomes a challenging process. To help your team find the files they need quickly and easily, establish standardized naming conventions throughout your organization. These guidelines should ensure that file names are appropriately informative. For example, you could include the client name and the date of the file’s creation.
Many IT documentation software programs give you access to templates with predefined file names. This can help you ensure consistency in file names across your organization and between departments.
4. Assign ownership of your documentation management solution
Although you may have a team of individuals involved with the creation of your documentation management strategy, it’s extremely helpful to designate a leader as the person responsible for the solution.
By assigning ownership of the strategy to one person, you can create an effective and streamlined procedure. This makes the decision-making process more efficient and boosts accountability.
5. Create a retention policy
Each industry has different regulations and protocols for retaining documents they must adhere to, which is why having a strategy in place to ensure compliance is critical. By implementing an official document retention policy, you can simplify compliance with regulations. IT documentation software can help you do this by allowing you to create policies regarding how long to retain a document, when to purge, archive, and copy it. When appropriate, you can also define who’s able to delete data.
6. Ensure ongoing management of documentation
It’s important to continually review your documentation system and make alterations, if necessary—as well as implement version control. The nature of your documentation requirements should change as your company grows. If your document management strategy ceases to satisfy your requirements, it may be time for a change. That’s why it’s important to choose a documentation management system that can scale and grow with your operations.
7. Embrace automation where possible
Advanced IT documentation software can automate multiple functions, like workflow integration and data capture—or it can integrate with other tools to maximize automation capabilities. You can set up automation to detect document type and route files to the right people in your company, as well as drive notifications when individuals modify certain documents or articles. When you automate workflows, document approval becomes fast and easy.
Choosing the right IT documentation software
Of course, following all these best practices is easier said than done. As a busy MSP, it’s important you utilize the tools that implement best practices for you and maximize your time.
SolarWinds® Passportal + Documentation Manager comes built-in with the key capabilities MSPs need to perfect their documentation management strategy. It delivers centralized password management functionalities alongside IT documentation management abilities to deliver a solution that is ideal for MSP businesses.
This fully integrated IT documentation platform offers a range of functionalities and was designed specifically for MSPs. It can help you improve efficiency with standardized documentation, allowing you to offer a better customer experience. Work conveniently with linked passwords, documents, assets, knowledge base articles, and more from one centralized location. Passportal + Documentation Manager’s intuitive user interface makes it easy to use and highly scalable as you grow. To learn more, schedule a demo today.
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