Real IT Documentation and Why It’s Necessary
So, you’ve lost your IT guy. Now you’re waist deep in rogue cables and ambiguously blinking equipment.
We at AnchorSix talk to folks every day about their IT problems. One of the most frequent issues we run into is a client who has fired (or otherwise lost) his IT guy and now has no idea how anything works. So, let us convince you of the real benefit of IT documentation.
Departmental IT Documentation
How would you rate your understanding of the function and role of your office equipment? For many business owners, it’s pretty low. This isn’t necessarily an intentional lack of understanding. You want your CEO to focus on big-picture thinking, not the nuts and bolts of computer cabling and phone technology.
But the reality is that a lack of IT foresight can have detrimental effects on a company’s productivity. Think of this:
Source: Cornerstone Dynamics
The problem with many SMB offices and their tech is the mishmash of hardware and software from workstation to workstation. This lack of unity can create singular knowledge, so each employee has a grip only on their own processes, not the team’s. Between phones, computers, servers, and applications, even the smallest businesses can find themselves scratching their heads when onboarding new employees (or losing them).
Every department may operate differently. Think of accounting versus design. Accounting may be on PCs and design on MACs. Each may have their own storage servers they connect to. Design will most likely not have access to the accounting server as established in the Global Configuration settings for security purposes. Also, while both systems may have some of the same lines of business apps, oftentimes the licensing for PC and MAC are different and need to be documented as such. If someone in accounting leaves, a new person in design can’t just take over the application license.
Solid IT documentation is how you solve this problem. You start with creating the standard operating procedures that apply to your business practices. It’s a team effort that creates and maintains the best practices for each workstation, and each onboarding becomes smoother because everyone follows the process.
What’s In Your Environment?
Documentation is more than just design. For every piece of network equipment (router, switch, firewall, servers, on-premise BDR, backup batteries), there are also documented configurations for each device that denote how each piece is set up to work with everything else, when the last updates and patches were applied, when and why a hard drive was replaced, make and model of each device, and licensing info and so on.
This configuration is highly important for multiple reasons: best practices, easy handoff to new IT managers, regulatory compliance requirement for audits, backup and disaster recovery planning.
As a business owner, you know the value of documenting standard operating procedures. With your tech, the time and effort put into the early stages of setup pay tenfold in time management down the road. These are simple best practices for your infrastructure design.
When creating your IT documentation, ask yourself these questions: How do employees log into your system? What security procedures does each system have? What level of access to company data does each employee have? What is the function and role of each piece of equipment in your office?
The documentation has its own security settings as to who can view it because the login credentials and passwords for each device and all software management are contained within it. Accidents happen, people quit, people get fired, and someone has to be able to get in and change passwords, settings, remove people from the system to maintain the network properly.
Source: Business Insider
What are Your Best Practices?
Once you’ve determined the function of your equipment and the best practices for your employees, you want to develop a knowledge base that secures your standard operating procedures with additional solutions to common problems.
A proper knowledge base gives you and your employees a place to go to find quick fixes. This is a living document, intended to grow as your company grows and your standard operating procedures become more refined.
As a growing company, you need to know that your IT solutions consider larger goals, so you’re never stuck with a short-term fix on a long-term process. The key to great infrastructure design is scalability, and when you develop standard operating procedures and a knowledge base for your documentation, you ensure smooth sailing as you grow.
At AnchorSix, we are fanatical about documentation. When you partner with us, you get our years of experience in infrastructure design to help reshape your IT systems and put you on the path to success. We help create your knowledge base, which is yours to keep—never locked down by us. From there, the future is wide open.
Call us today to reimagine your IT documentation.