Why Documentation is Crucial
People who watch our technicians work, or those who know something about our operating procedures at The Network Support Company might be inclined to wonder, “why are they taking so many notes?” It’s because we believe that documentation – and creating a shared knowledge base for everyone on our team – is crucial.
Although no loves to document, we invest the time because, at the core, good documentation makes us better: more efficient, more accurate, and more consistent. In other words, because everyone on our team learns from the experiences of others, we have the capability to resolve whatever issues you’re dealing with quickly, with less trial-and-error, and with less possibility of a mishap.
One of the things that makes TNSC different than other IT companies is our commitment to being proactive and to thinking ahead. We know that by proactively monitoring your network, we can often spot a problem before it becomes a catastrophe. In the same way, by documenting our technical work, we can reduce the possibility of human error.
What part does documentation play?
Look at it this way: If everyone used the same model computer with the same applications and the same versions of those applications, and the same network equipment, and the same printers and mobile devices, all configured the same way, and if every user of computers was exactly the same and used the equipment in exactly the same way, then documentation would not be very important. Techs, through sheer repetition, would be able to perform their tasks with their eyes closed. But, in fact, things are not all the same; there are an infinite number of combinations of these items with each variation creating unique inter-dependencies that require different approaches. This could be a land mine for the same tech who forgot something since the last visit or especially a new technician who has never worked at that site before. Documentation helps all of our technicians know what to expect in a given situation, what to avoid, what worked on previously occasions and, perhaps most importantly, what didn’t.
We spend a lot of time developing our documentation systems and training our people on proper documentation techniques. Our systems consist of multiple components. These include:
- Photos of the environment
- Extensive documents with specific network information (such as IP addresses & passwords)
- Comprehensive Visio diagrams showing the overall network topology
- Checklists for repeatable items such as workstation deployments
- Lists of equipment with model numbers, age and warranty information
- Lists of applications with version numbers and notes on vendor information and installation instructions
From an issue to issue perspective, we provide detailed notes of all the work performed. In this scenario, we ask our technicians to use the same model used by any good storyteller: the notes should have a beginning (defining the issue), a middle (describing what work was done to resolve the issue) and an end (details of next steps if the issue is resolved or reporting what testing was done to confirm the issue is resolved). For all remote issues, these notes go to the client instantaneously; they’re also available on the client’s customer portal on TNSC’s website, and they appear on client invoices, too.
Therefore, clients have full disclosure on what caused the problem, how we fixed it and, in many cases, also glean information on what might prevent it from happening again. We take great care to be thorough, detailed and consistent, so that, if a client has questions, the documentation will allow us to answer as thoroughly and accurately as possible.