“My network just gets smaller and easier to manage with every new day,” said no IT Director ever. How can you be expected to keep up with ongoing changes, when the nature of a network is to evolve and grow? Yet, your annual risk assessment calls for accurate, up-to-date documentation. Considering the complexity of modern computing systems, and the ongoing merge between compliance, security, and IT management, documentation has become more important than ever. With the number of servers, desktops, routers, switches, printers, and security devices required for a business to thrive always increasing, modern networks are a complex and sometimes confusing environment. The speed at which these network environments change and grow is often hard to keep up with. Therefore, proper documentation of your network is very important. There is an old saying that time is money, and I believe that documentation is an investment of time that pays significant returns. Documentation does not happen overnight, though, and it is not something you do once, then it is done. Documentation is an ongoing investment of time and resources.
Mind the Details
So, what exactly is Network Documentation? Documentation is more than just a list of the devices on your network. It is a detailed description of each device on your network, how all of these devices communicate, what function each device performs, and how each device is configured. I mentioned earlier how documentation is an investment of time and you are surely wondering, “How does all of this time spent documenting everything pay off?” I will give you 3 examples of how documentation returns your investment– with dividends.
- Avoid Turnover Delays and Role Lock-in
Proper documentation gives you freedom in your employment options for IT support. Whether you a small business with an IT department of one, or a larger enterprise with a team providing support, nobody likes to be in a position where the decision to keep or replace an employee comes down to We can’t replace them, because they are the only ones who know how everything works. You would be surprised how often this happens. Turnover of a single employee can set a team back for months. Documentation in this situation provides for a much smoother transition when replacing that one employee with a new employee or replacing the entire IT department with an MSP. The time required for a new person or team to come up to speed and start being effective in their support is directly dependent on how well the environment is documented. Without documentation a new support team will need to spend days and possibly weeks to discover and document your environment.
- Set Yourself Up to Mature and Scale
Another area where documentation is invaluable is when it is time to grow your network. As new technologies mature and make inroads into corporate computing environments, and as your company grows, it is necessary to add devices to your network. Without a thorough understanding of the existing devices, there really is no way to determine how adding a specific new device will affect the network. An incorrectly configured router or switch added to a network can cause the entire network to fail, bringing your business to a standstill.
- At-the-Ready Documentation Supports Business Continuity
And that brings us to the final example of how documentation can really pay off. When a device fails, or something else happens to cause the entire network to stop working, the last thing you want is for your IT team to spend valuable time trying to determine how everything was setup and working before the failure. This is where that time spent documenting everything pays off. It is not only the IT team who is spending time researching how things worked before who’s time is being spent. You would likely have your entire staff twiddling their thumbs while IT tries to determine what went wrong. With proper documentation it is much easier to determine what failed and how to repair/replace a device to get the entire company back to work.
If you would like help creating documentation, we have experts available who can act as an extension of your team. Even if your documentation needs go beyond network and device settings, such as policy development or security program management information, our team of experts can assist you with creating, centralizing, and aligning to meet your requirements.
Request a consultation with one of our experts to see how TRUE can help.