What to Document in an MSP
As a successful managed services provider (MSP), you know how important it is to offer your customers consistent, high-quality service. Recently, many MSPs have begun to realize just how important effective IT documentation is to achieve that end. While the benefits of documentation might be clear, knowing exactly what to document can often be less apparent.
While it may be ideal to eventually document anything and everything, that model only works if you know what documentation to prioritize. Wasting time documenting less relevant information might hinder the potential benefits of the documentation process. By understanding what exactly you should document, you can maximize the benefits of your MSP’s documentation efforts.
What is IT documentation?
IT documentation is the process of creating written records of all the processes that are undertaken by an MSP, as well as any important information about their customers. Though it can be a time and labor-intensive process in the beginning, you should view that time as an investment. Investing in IT documentation early on will eventually save your technicians hours of time spent trying to recreate or invent processes for daily tasks—instead, they can simply complete a basic search to find all the information they need. Saving a few minutes here and there can significantly improve your MSP’s efficiency overall.
Organization is an essential element of the IT documentation process. There are two basic categories of information that an MSP should document: internal documentation and external documentation. You should keep each category separate from the other so it’s easier to find the information you need when you need it.
Internal documentation covers the documents your employees require to perform the functions that relate directly to your company. External, or customer-specific documentation, includes the documents that are necessary for supporting your customers—from general information about the customer to details of the processes your MSP has performed for them previously.
What to Document
Generally, the more information you document, the more efficient your MSP can become. That’s why so many MSPs are turning to IT documentation software solutions to help them maximize the amount and quality of their documentation. Of course, it’s not always possible to document everything, so knowing where to start is key. Whether or not you’re using a software solution, the most important information to document remains the same.
To begin, consider what you’d need to put together if you had to hand your MSP’s business off to another entirely new team tomorrow. What would they need to know about your systems and devices? What would they need to know about your customers to keep business running smoothly? It’s critical that you document all the information necessary for your technicians to deliver effective IT support to each of your customers. The goal is to ensure technicians can refer to documentation and successfully provide support no matter where they’re located or whether they’ve worked with a specific customer before.
Specifically, some of the information you should document includes:
- Applications and services such as: Active Directory, line of business applications (and their licenses), system backups, email configurations, file sharing and collaboration tools, Internet/WAN, LAN/VLAN, printing information, Voice/PBX, and wireless details
- Passwords and credentials required to manage those applications and services, the assets and devices that host them, and the vendors who manufacture and support them
- Domain registrations, mail exchanger record settings, and aliases for email
- Details on the internal hardware infrastructure, including Internal IP addresses and DNS settings for servers, routers, and switches
- Standard operating procedures (SOPs) specific to internal processes, such as “how to prioritize helpdesk tickets”
- SSL certificates for clients
- Remote domain names, external IP addresses, VPN details, and remote web workplace credentials so that technicians can access a customer’s site to provide support
- Backup configuration details including what information is backed up and where and who is in charge of backups on the client site so that your employees can find and restore data that the client might urgently need
- SOPs that are specific to each customer, such as “how to install a workstation at a client’s London office”
- Active and archived project details
- Managed assets for all customers and each of their locations
A Partner for IT Documentation
When it comes to effective IT documentation, the best way to help ensure you have all your important data documented and well-organized is to use IT documentation software. This software simplifies the IT documentation process by providing templates that can be applied to each of your customers and their information. It also helps with organization by providing your MSP with a centralized, cloud-based storage solution—so that any of your employees can immediately access the information they need, no matter where they are.
SolarWinds® Passportal + Documentation Manager is a fully featured documentation manager designed to simplify the IT documentation process for MSPs. The software includes pre-built IT documentation templates that help ensure you document relevant information on your core assets. With Passportal + Documentation Manager, MSPs can improve efficiency, reduce costs, enhance productivity and collaboration, and more easily scale for growth.
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