Importance of Documentation in IT
Imagine your first day, or rather your first month working as a Helpdesk Tech, a Network Engineer, or even a Systems Administrator working each day with a blindfold on. That’s right, a blindfold. Nothing but surprise awaiting you with each ticket, each phone call, and each email from a client or internal resource – well, that is what it is like working without proper documentation in the IT world. Most individuals working in this field, when faced with a question in their day to day, immediately turn to Google.com or support forums related to the matter in question. However, with proper documentation already gathered, work efforts, as well as learning curves, decrease dramatically by having already confirmed knowledge available to self and peers after acquiring. The day-to-day for ANY IT professional becomes less chaotic, less stressful, and beneficial for the technician as well as the client who is having a troublesome issue. Documentation starts with the entire team making the effort to place any acquired knowledge in a written format. The end result – less confusion, increased productivity, standard expectancy, and fewer repetitive mistakes.
One of the biggest impacts on customer service is time spent being unable to resolve the issue. With proper documentation, tasks that are fairly time-consuming become somewhat of a proven process that leaves the client satisfied every time, from the first time they confirm the satisfaction. For instance, user profile creations. A Tier 1 action that could even take the most season Systems Admin a full day to complete if they have no information to go on. Where is the Domain Controller? Who is the approved point-of-contact that can make this request? Is there a certain username standard for these users? Are the emails configured on-prem or in the cloud? So many questions can present themselves and with no documentation to go on, a technician can spend more than 4 hours on average creating the new user to the customer’s expected standards. However, with documentation displaying each step through the approval process, scope-of-work breakdown, and completion expectations, the task becomes completed within 1/8 of this average time (30 minutes) with little effort on the technician’s end. What does this also leave time for? – Improving the documentation to be most efficient in accomplishing the task!
Customer Service – Establishing Trust
When working in IT, or rather any field of interest, there is nothing more frustrating for the customer or the provider to be asked a question and not know the answer. Simply put, have you ever experienced the panic that ensues the moment a customer states the following: “I described the issue yesterday to one of your colleagues, it should be in the ticket/notes.” Once this question is asked, the immediate response would be to not panic, check the ticket notes, and confirm the caller’s assumption, but what if you can’t do this due to no notes being entered in the ticket, or the ticket not even being created. Documentation not only applies to specifying the “How To”, but “what actually happened!?” With the expected information readily available, a quick response is given, calming the panic in the receiver to confirm zero embarrassments, and displaying a customer experience worth keeping as well as recommending to others.
Where Should It Go
“Documentation is only as exceptional as the canvas you’re writing it on” – Charles Lafontant
Documentation can be written in many formats on many platforms, but the details of one person may not have everything that the next person viewing it or your future self. would expect. Writing documentation within a pre-populated platform leads to more completed notes rather than rushed ones. Here is a suggested platform derived from actual past experiences: ITGLUE – A dedicated and powerful IT Documentation management platform that saves time, eases frustrations, and allows for simple information availability. The web management platform has pre-configured core assets that leave no room for questioning the information that should be gathered for existing clients, as well as prospect ones as well. Being able to immediately pose questions to the client while working on an issue about their office locations, backup solutions, and confirmed vendors displays experienced customer service skills to the client in any aspect.
What Matters Most…
Documentation availability is more than often the second question asked by most technicians to ease their doubts about tackling a new matter.
Boss: Hey Jim, think you can take on this ticket?
Jim: Sure, what is the issue?
Boss: Simply setup remote access for the user to work from home on their personal laptop?
Jim: No problem, do you know where the KB (Knowledge base) document is on how to perform this action?
What matters most is that your technician, as well as your future self, can feel comfortable dealing with any issue daily. Without the team’s effort to show support for one another through shared documentation, it is expected for a new frustrated technician to look for employment elsewhere. The increase of business and sustainability for most MSPs, in my opinion anyway, is due to the efforts of the first line of defense technicians displaying to clients their willingness to help through expert customer service practices. Documentation is a tool that is used every day whether it be a Technician, Account Manager, or Human Resources Coordinator, and should be more of a priority 1 concern if any business is not ensuring this skill is being taught to all staff. It has the ability to train other staff without the need of another busy resource taking the time to demonstrate the action, thus saving what any business owner considers invaluable, time and costs!
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Associate Infrastructure Consultant