As in most businesses, you like to keep your team focused on producing results and solving challenges that affect those results. Supporting the very network that enables all your work and communication is an integral part of those priorities, and your IT resources probably have plenty to keep them busy.
So, it can be easy to overlook the importance of IT documentation for maintaining, changing or replacing elements in your IT network.
The reality is that documenting your equipment, devices and software makes all the difference after a disaster, after someone leaves a team, when replacing a server, or even if you’re moving from on-site IT support to using a managed IT service.
While it sounds like a simple (and maybe tedious) administrative task, keeping clear and accurate information on the network assets your company is using right now – and how they work together – is a strategic move to ensure smooth transitions that will keep your team and your business productive and successful.
Which assets need documentation?
The simple answer is that your asset documentation effort should involve organizing and maintaining up-to-date details on all of your network’s server equipment, end-user devices, and software solutions. Manufacturers, models, service details and warranty information, along with information about where they are located – it’s all necessary for keeping all systems operational and secure.
Documentation on the software your team uses should include passwords, critical functions, and access points for any associated technology. If you run specialized reports or use detailed macros, make sure that these are also documented.
Who has access to each of these programs and at what level also needs to be documented. This is crucial so that when employees leave an organization, their access can be revoked immediately. An unused or inactive account can be a dangerous network access point for both cyberattackers and disgruntled employees.
When you’ve created custom code for an application, documenting your code changes is also important. And if you’re handing custom-coded applications over to another team, documentation is necessary to help them understand how to proceed.
What does asset documentation accomplish?
Although we all believe IT documentation is important – it’s sometimes hard to see the immediate value of this type of activity. Documenting assets supports the proper and effective function of all your regular network processes, from simple daily operations – like running reports and backups, performance testing, scheduled maintenance and database synchronizations – to more complex procedures, like preparing for corporate events, planning an upgrade or troubleshooting access for remote employees.
Knowing what you have and where it is supporting the business is critical to making strategic and tactical operational decisions. Effective documentation can translate to a range of benefits from increasing transparency and right-sizing your budget to optimizing resources, introducing automation and even identifying or increasing competitive advantage.
What happens with asset documentation?
Once you have documented your processes, details, and crucial information, the next question is where this information will be stored.
For information backups, there’s a 3-2-1 rule, which states that information should be stored in three locations in at least two formats with at least one offsite. Storing documentation doesn’t need to be so exacting but it is important to make sure that a copy of crucial paperwork is stored somewhere off-site – even if that’s with a managed services provider – and another on-site for easy reference.
Consider who has access
Like any other company information, it’s safest to allow “least access,” meaning that people only have the access they absolutely need in order to do their jobs. There’s no need for the sales team to have access to the IT department’s coding documentation, for example.
Regardless of who has access to documentation, it makes sense to have documentation centralized. This ensures that when a team member leaves the company, it’s easy to find whatever documentation they have created.
One way to get help creating and centralizing documentation is by working with an experienced partner like ICS Data. Along with our managed IT services, we offer a number of options to support company documentation and maintaining information off-site for secure access in case of crisis events.