Documentation. screenshot of network documentation

It’s considered a profanity in every IT department. Yet every technician in every IT shop will agree that documenting IT processes and procedures is essential to managing an effective IT organization.

Process documentation allows IT staff to be more effective by:

  • Increasing the consistency with which you execute repeatable processes

  • Allowing subject matter experts to share operational knowledge with general IT staff

  • Enabling more staff members to complete service changes, thereby increasing operational efficiency

  • Lowering the barrier of entry for folks entering new roles within the organization

  • Mitigating the risks associated with IT service changes 

With so many good reasons to create process documentation, why is it ignored in so many IT organizations? Here are some common reasons:

Creating documentation is often seen as time-consuming overhead. 

After all, IT departments are measured by the work they do, not by the documentation they produce. It’s easy to fall victim to this pretense since creating documentation can be a hurdle for technicians. It’s important to remember that the goal of documenting IT processes is to make the work you do better, not to add overhead. 

Rapid changes in technology quickly leave your process documentation outdated.

Even basic refreshes can introduce changes in how you configure and interact with technology. If refreshing your process documentation isn’t part of your technology refresh, you’ll find your documentation to be out of date and ineffective in no time at all.

It’s often difficult to find appropriate documentation.

Most organizations distribute their process documentation in a multitude of locations making them hard to find. To help understand the problem, I’ve posted the industry-standard definitions of several common document repositories:

File Server: A centralized location for documentation to die in an obfuscated folder hierarchy.

Email: A distributed location for documentation to get lost amongst the most random collection of information.

Server File Systems: The places where multiple versions of a document get distributed and ignored.

Ok, so maybe I made some of the definitions up. I think most folks will agree they’re not too far from the truth.

So where do we go from here? What can you do to create relevant process documentation that the IT organization will actually use?

Start by making your process documentation more accessible.

Store your documentation in a central location so everyone can find it. Make it available on any connected device. Leverage search and metadata instead of file paths to locate applicable process documents, and present your content in a simple and concise manner.

Be consistent with your format.

Often times the biggest hurdle in creating good process documentation is figuring out where to start. Most technicians don’t have the luxury of time to figure out how a document should be formatted or what information should be included. To help them along, you should create a template that logically organizes the steps in the process and provides any supporting information they may need to execute the process successfully. Not only will a familiar template make it easier to create documentation, it will also make documents more useable for the folks who consume it.

Acadia screenshot on iphoneUse a platform that will make your documents more manageable.

Consider using a platform specifically designed for policy and procedure management. Platforms such as our Acadia™ Performance Platform make managing your IT processes easier by providing:

  • A web-based application with responsive design for use on all devices

  • A template-driven approach to content creation

  • Full document versioning for auditing purposes

  • Document discovery based on search and metadata

  • Flexible workflow to manage governance of important documents

Clean up your IT vocabulary by no longer referring to documentation as a dirty word. Do this by making your process documentation more accessible, consistent, and manageable. To find out more about how Acadia™ can help you achieve these goals, contact us.