When it comes to the way we service our Managed Service customers, The Network Support Company talks a lot about documentation. So we wanted to explore that a little more deeply and talk about why it is so important.
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 the same 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. But things are not all the same and, in fact, there are an infinite number of combinations of these items with each variation, creating unique inter-dependencies that require different approaches.
For some companies a malfunctioning printer evokes a yawn, at others, it’s a reason to panic. Some computer users want their applications to behave one way and others another way. Some clients like to be called by their first names and others by their last. Some companies just want their computers to work and don’t care what it costs; others want to do as much as they can by themselves to save money. Some companies have 15 different types of workstation setups and others just a few – but in all cases the expectation is that, when a computer gets replaced, it works flawlessly with every application configured perfectly.
Complicating the equation is that supporting a network requires a team of remote and onsite technicians who work very closely together, so the sharing of knowledge is critically important to give the customer a great experience.
In addition, TNSC believes that the documentation we create – in order to provide a knowledgeable, personal, seamless and efficient service experience – is a valuable asset for our clients. Additionally, because we are committed to being 100% transparent, we want to provide our clients all the tools they need to manage us as they would one of their internal departments.
So 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 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, they 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.
We’ve invested a lot of resourcing to develop our documentation standards; we believe it is one of the ways the best IT companies distance themselves from the competition.