Let’s be frank, on a good day, documentation sucks! But it is the key to saving you large amounts of money via support costs in the long run. Any “mature” IT company or IT worker will have this down, albeit begrudgingly. As a business owner, I insist on documentation and yes, I struggle with getting it done as well. If I didn’t have a central place for all of network information, passwords, etc. I would go NUTS! Luckily we have a fantastic application for our support and documentation. With just a few clicks I can bring up a client, see all of their network information and any notes and proceed with whatever issue needs resolution. By the way, we can get to that anywhere we have connection to the internet!
Let me relate a couple of stories as to why documentation is so important. I was recently asked to migrate a company to a new service. They have no IT staff and the IT guy left long ago. I showed up ready to take on the world and asked for the login information for the services I was changing. After a bit of wondering we determined that we didn’t have it. I returned two different occasions only to be met with the same challenges of missing configuration information or passwords. A few hour job turned into 6.
Item number two, a company waits until the last day to renew their SSL certificate…. Nightmare ensues. After struggling with trying to get login information that we needed we were finally able to get what we needed to get the certificate done, at 2:45 AM, we started at 10:30 PM. A little documentation and getting it done before the last day would have helped.
Now the good news is, for these two companies I now have all of the information I need. For all of our other clients we have all of their documentation on hand, including old passwords, and we can spit those out any time we need to for our clients. Additionally, we create a repository somewhere on THEIR network so they always have it. Documentation is not something that a service provider should hold hostage. If yours does, RUN from them as fast as you can.
I can hear you now… “Rees, it sounds like you are whining and crying a little bit.” Maybe a little…. However, what I can tell you is this, you have to question WHY your IT provider doesn’t have that information at hand and why you don’t have a copy. As a managed service provider, gathering ALL of your information and going over it with you is our first priority. Oh, and by the way, it doesn’t cost you anything extra.
In the end, proper documentation can mean the difference between making sure your services are up and running quickly, or ending up with a major headache and a large invoice at the end of a job.