Let’s start off by acknowledging that network documentation is not the sexiest thing to blog about. Creating good documentation can be time-consuming, tedious, and thankless work that often goes unnoticed. And that’s exactly why we need to talk about it.
Network documentation is the practice of maintaining accurate records about networks of computers, in order to service those machines more efficiently. Documentation may include drawn maps of the network and its cabling, locations of servers and backups, admin login credentials, software vendor agreements, and historical service records. This is essential information that IT support providers need to manage their clients’ networks.
This information is not always easy to find, and hunting after it can be very tedious work indeed. Because it can be such a pain, some IT departments and support providers simply don’t track the information. While skipping documentation may save some time in the short run, it causes a lot of frustration and lost productivity in the long run.
Whether your technical support is provided by a third-party IT company or an internal IT department, make sure your support team is keeping accurate records of your network. As your documentation grows more complete and organized, your support provider can provide a better level of service.
There are four good reasons you should insist on excellent network documentation.
1. Resolve IT support questions faster
You sit down at your desk, open your document, and try to print it, only to encounter an error. Frustrated, you call up your help desk and ask them to fix it so you can get back to taking care of business. The technician wants to help, but he can’t find the credentials he needs to log into your network and see what’s making your printer malfunction. So, you’re left on hold for 10 minutes while he hunts for the information.
Sounds infuriating, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s an all-too common occurrence in the world of IT support. Select an IT provider that invests the time to properly document your network, and you’ll save yourself a lot of time and headache in the long run. When your help desk has all the information needed to solve a problem right at hand, you and your team won’t be stuck waiting on hold and can get back to work much faster.
2. Enhance your network’s cybersecurity
How can an organization secure an IT network when they have no idea what’s connected to that network in the first place? The simple answer is they can’t.
If you want to provide truly effective security for any IT network, you must have complete knowledge of that network and the devices and software that power it.
3. Speed up your disaster-recovery process
Your business’s network is down, and nothing can get done until it’s back up and running. Can you think of a worse time to be running around in a frantic search for login credentials or a Wi-Fi diagram?
Every second those systems are down takes dollars off your business’s bottom line. The sooner your IT support team can restore your data, the quicker you can get back to business.
4. Stop the brain-drain
If your company is entirely dependent on a single person to run your IT network, you’ve got a major problem. What if that person has to take time off? What if he or she gets sick? What if… (gulp) … your lone network expert quits? Your business could be in real trouble, really fast.
One way to eliminate this risk is to find an IT provider that maintains an excellent record-keeping system.
When you shop around for an IT support provider, ask them what tools they use to document your network. Don’t settle for anything less than an IT provider that takes documentation very seriously. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the future of your team’s productivity depends on it.