How to Build IT Documentation into Your MSP Practice

Seamlessly integrating documentation into workflows takes planning, training, and commitment from your entire team.

Finding an efficient way to document vital information for your clients can be a challenge. You know that looking through paperwork or multiple spreadsheets for details on warranties, the software stack an employee uses, or even a forgotten password is a waste of time and can result in negative customer experiences. However, IT documentation software can transform an inefficient system into one that instantly puts information at your teams’ fingertips.

To get the greatest benefits from an IT documentation solution, you need to make a part of your techs’ everyday workflows. A. Alex Cabral, CEO of SI Portal, developer of IT documentation solution IT Portal, shares his insights into how MSPs typically use IT documentation tools most effectively.

Who is responsible for IT documentation in most managed services provider (MSP) businesses?

Cabral: Even though all techs will ultimately be a part of the documentation process, in the most successful deployments, there is one champion of IT documentation that does the initial setup and ingests data. That person usually sets the standards on documentation requirements, develops a process, then trains the rest of the team. Depending on the organization’s size, it can take a few weeks to a few months to launch an effective program.

How much time does documentation take per account? 

Cabral: The time an MSP spends on documentation for each account depends on the standards the MSP sets. We have an onboard guide built into the IT Portal that lists about 25+ items that MSPs should be documenting for their customers. If an MSP adds or removes to this list, the amount of time can vary. MSPs can also use Excel spreadsheets to speed up data entry.

Regardless of the number of items that the MSP will document, we ask our clients to onboard a few customers and, at that point, estimate the average time it takes so they can plan accurately for documentation for future accounts.

Do MSPs ever have a problem seeing the ROI of comprehensive IT documentation—and what would you say to those MSPs to help change their minds?

Cabral: The point of standardizing the documentation is to reduce the amount of time and frustration spent looking for information. Ask yourself:

  • How costly is it when a critical issue arises, and no documentation is available?
  • How valuable is it to a client to be able to access their infrastructure-related data instantly?
  • How valuable is the information collected by an engineer throughout the years that they have worked at an MSP?

Even if an issue is the customer’s fault, the last thing they want to hear is that you have no idea why their domain is offline and that you do not have access to the domain registrar. The ROI is immeasurably high if documentation is done right.

What advice can you give growing MSPs about getting in front of IT documentation processes? 

Cabral: MSPs should establish procedures that include documenting the logins to their services and restricting who has access to them. They should also document when those services are due to be renewed so that they can engage customers about new options in the market. MSPs also need a place to store their standard operating procedures (SOPs) and technical how-tos.

Ideally, having a system that can show how the logins, SOPs, and how-tos relate to each other will make IT documentation more valuable.