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    IT Documentation Best Practices

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    Hudu's Guide to Better IT Documentation 

    Getting started with IT Documentation can be challenging, but the benefits of creating a solid structure for your knowledge and processes are many. When teams have the information they need, work is easier and more productive. Documented, repeatable processes make businesses run more smoothly. And the risks around handling sensitive information are reduced. 

    This post walks through how to start and evolve a documentation culture throughout your organization, creating better outcomes for everyone. First off, let’s identify the types of documentation you’ll need to capture. 

    What are the three types of IT documentation 

    There are three types of IT documentation: 

    1. Reference Documentation – Reference documentation encompasses a real-world picture of your IT architecture, including everything that exists in the environment. Reference documentation should contain up-to-date information on all current systems, like make, model, and manufacturer, as well as passwords, details on integrations, and contact and configuration information. Creators, managers, and administrators should focus on making reference documentation easy to create and keep updated so that everyone has access to accurate, error-free data.
    2. Process Documentation – Process documentation, often referred to as Standard Operating Procedures or SOPs, records how to do something and enables staff to accomplish tasks critical to IT Management. Like business process documentation, IT process documentation is essential to ensuring your technicians are able to quickly and efficiently react to the increasingly complex needs of users. Documented processes are especially important when technicians need to hand off tasks to a co-worker, or new technicians need to ramp up quickly. 
    3. Tutorials – Tutorials are focused on educating and upskilling technicians and users. Tutorials are lessons that follow a set of steps with the goal of ensuring learning takes place by doing. Tutorials are often challenging to create, but the reward is a repeatable guide that will engage learners actively. An example of a tutorial might be “How to Create an SSH Key.” 

    Why is IT documentation important 

    IT documentation helps reduce business complexity by organizing the information necessary to support users, often in a single, easy-to-use platform. Documentation empowers technicians to make more informed decisions. And it bolsters your resiliency when unexpected events occur.  

    Documentation helps make other management tools more effective, as well. Take monitoring software, for example. Before a solution for threat mitigation can be put in place, you need to know your network. And that starts with documenting the network architecture and how it interacts with other systems. 

    For MSPS and IT departments, the right documentation software is critical for success, facilitating teamwork and collaboration among teams and with end users. 

    Best practices for an IT documentation process

    Getting started (or restarted) with documentation is easier when you take a bit to organize how you’ll approach information collection, organization, and maintenance. Here are a few pointers we recommend as you begin: 

    1. Outline what’s important and what critical details to capture.
    2. Talk to stakeholders to understand their needs. 
    3. Create the documentation templates, including process outlines, you want teams to use. 
    4. Prioritize and segment key processes. 
    5. Use naming conventions, plain language, even colors, to distinguish and organize. 
    6. Start small and iterate, incorporate visuals as you’re able but focus on progress over perfection. 
    7. Revisit, revise, and keep improving. 
    8. Involve key stakeholders in creating a "How to Document" document. 

    What are IT documentation tools and how are they used 

    There are a wide range of options for documenting IT. The goal should always be to have comprehensive storage and accessibility of process documents, updated and stable information, and the necessary backups and security for your information.  

    Common tools for IT documentation include knowledge management systems, password management tools, change management systems, IT asset management systems, and documentation repositories. Some companies work with more than one solution and might even use word documents or spreadsheets.  

    It can be challenging to find a single tool that will cover all the needs of an organization. Maintaining reference documentation requires regular review and updating as systems change and information becomes out of date. Evolving process documentation should be collaborative, ideally with review and history tracking, and should allow technicians to link to related documentation to assist them in providing support. Tutorials and other teaching materials must be accessible to end users as well as technicians. 

    At Hudu our solution for scalable IT documentation incorporates the best of these various tools into a single, cost-effective documentation platform, cutting down on complexity and ensuring your team has what they need for efficient problem solving, maintenance, and decision-making. We’ve even added gamification to the platform, to promote a culture of documentation and a little healthy competition. Untitled design (3)

    Technicians are ranked on creating, updating, and viewing documentation and results are tracked on a leaderboard built right into the Hudu tool. 

    Creating a robust documentation practice using Hudu 

    Using a tool purpose-built for documentation is increasingly how MSPs and IT managers keep their teams enabled. Here are some ways Hudu allows the most custom and flexible documentation: 

    1. Customize your documentation structures – Hudu was created to get teams beyond canned templates that don’t always fit. Whether starting from scratch or customizing a template, Hudu’s assets layouts can be tailored to your team, giving you a built-in advantage from the start.  
    2. Plan to scale – Many businesses use Hudu to address current-state documentation, migrating from another platform or consolidating several solutions into one. It is critical, however, to also consider how your business will grow and how your documentation should scale. This example of an IT naming convention is simple, easy to remember and takes into consideration how technicians will want to look for information: Screenshot 2023-12-13 at 1.18.30 PM
      The best IT documentation tools will also enable scale in other ways, including continually reducing complexity, handling multiple companies or divisions, and integrating with current and planned technologies. 
    3. Incorporate visuals – Many documentation solutions ignore the importance of images. Often a picture or diagram, like a server rack or floor plan, will be critical to efficient support. Understanding that, Hudu enables images to be stored two ways: on a specific asset but also at a client level. 
    4. Keep iterating and creating a culture of documentation – Whether you take advantage of Hudu’s gamification to build better documentation or otherwise encourage the collaboration that leads to smarter technical staff and a growing organization, keeping the focus on iteration and improvement will always be a winning strategy. 
    5. Prioritize security and assess risk constantly – Risk appears in many forms. From external threats to staff turnover, preventing knowledge loss and maintaining business continuity is critical. Permissions in Hudu can be placed on almost any piece of information at both a global and client level, create security groups and restrict access with ease. And any system for documenting IT should also be compliant with SOC 2, Type 2, HIPAA and other certifications.

    When to start with IT documentation software 

    Many companies will start documenting when they’re small, but the truth is that every company can benefit from a better solution at any point in time. If you’re struggling with onboarding and offboarding staff, worried about risk associated with unsecured tools, or simply looking to work with a vendor who prioritizes your business success, now is the time to explore your options.  

    Ready to get documenting? 

    Hudu is here to help you, with articles, documentation (of course), and in-house support staff. Find out why so many MSPs and IT teams are using Hudu to organize their data, work more efficiently and grow their businesses securely. Attend a demo to see our features and functionality or start your free trial of Hudu today. 

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