What Not To Do / Information Technology  / How not to document your IT environment – Onboarding
don't glue your IT Mike Karr

How not to document your IT environment – Onboarding

I’ve worked with Managed Service Provider (MSP’s), from 5 -person shops to the largest MSPs in Europe and all of them attribute success to a strong culture of documentation.  You can’t solve problems without information, so making sure the information your team needs is readily accessible is critical to the success of any MSP.  With that said, here’s how not to get your documentation in order:  

Don’t use tools that don’t suit the task

The reason MSPs come to companies like IT Glue for help is because they discover they cannot scale using a mishmash of Sharepoint, Excel docs, Google drive, and other tools.  You need all of your IT documentation in one system.  Having critical information living across different platforms kills efficiency as techs waste time searching for the information they need to solve problems now.

While I would of course recommend IT Glue for any MSP, there are alternatives in Hudu, ITBoost, PassPortal, and others.

For the purposes of this article, I will assume we are going with IT Glue.  

Don’t try to get everything transferred overnight

When you decide on a documentation platform, don’t feel you need to move everything over right away.  Hesitating to move into a dedicated platform often prevents MSP owners from moving in the first place.  This is just creating a bigger problem for you in the future and limits the speed at which you grow today.  This isn’t like moving a Professional Service Automation (PSA), you can do documentation in phases.

Pick one client to use as your ‘Best-Case Documentation client’.  We usually suggest choosing whichever client occupies the most tickets in your system.  Do dedicate a project to moving their documentation over right away, as the team needs to know what a client should look like when documented in the ideal way.  We can usually get this done in a couple hours (provided you integrate PSA and Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) to your documentation solution).

Once you have the golden example, set all your existing documentation to read-only.  This forces techs to update IT Glue as they work normally and will slowly get everything out of Sharepoint/Google/whatever, while teaching your team to rely on their new home base of IT Glue.

Don’t go forward without a standard naming convention

The whole point of having your documentation in one place is to make sure it’s easy to find.  Don’t forget to agree to a standardized naming convention.  You want to have naming conventions for documents and assets (hardware, passwords, ect.) to get the most out of your platform’s search function.  You’ll want this consistent across all clients, in order to make it easy for any tech in the business to work that client.  This prevents issues when your primary tech on a client is out.  It also makes onboarding new techs easier.

Don’t forget to create a culture of documentation

The most impactful change to the culture of any tech team, is to make documentation core.  Make it fun, offer rewards for fully documenting a client (you can track easily in the Global tab of IT Glue).  Make sure your team buys into the idea of being meticulous documenters.  They will likely resist initially, but the team will reap the rewards of documentation daily for the rest of their careers.

Take pride in having your clients perfectly documented.  Show off your work in QBRs by showing them what you have documented (you can do this a few different ways, using Runbooks or Lite users in IT Glue is recommended).  As a test, ask a tech to work a common ticket from a client they wouldn’t normally work on.  I can guarantee they will understand the power of documentation, and buy into the culture that is shared is shared by top-performing teams around the world.

Don’t think documentation is just for your tech

Your documentation solution isn’t just there to speed up ticket resolution time.  This platform should be your sales team’s best friend.  You should be actively documenting expiration dates on products and services and having you sales team proactively tackling renewals.  By giving your sales team access to IT Glue, you give them all the information they need to grow existing clients.  Document every service they subscribe to.  Make sure you document your client’s structure and Quarterly Business Review (QBR’s).

Your sales team will love your documentation tool as it alerts them to renewals and new opportunities to sell.  As a salesperson myself, anything that generates more leads for me is a godsend.  You already have all the information you need to give your sales team full visibility into your clients, just make sure that information lives in the right place!

Don’t keep documentation a secret

Once you’ve onboarded your new Documentation platform and created a culture of documentation, you can focus on growing the business.  Making your team more efficient via documentation will allow you to onboard more clients, offer more services, and expand contracts.  Your QBRs are about to celebrations.  Your techs are about to become twice as efficient.  Your business is about to grow.

Don’t forget to share the information you’ve collected with everyone in your business now that it’s all in one place!

Top Tip:

“Switch your existing documentation to read-only wherever it currently resides.  By forcing updated documentation to be made in your new dedicated platform, you will make the transition a natural and less intensive process.”

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