Building a Documentation Culture

By Joshua Oakes, IT Glue, Special to Kaseya

How often do you evaluate your organizational culture? Not often, right? Organizational culture is one of those amorphous concepts – you know it when you see it, but it’s just so difficult to pin down, and even more difficult to change. Yet, changing your culture is often necessary, especially when the entire MSP industry is transforming itself around you. If the constant flow of new tech and new business opportunities wasn’t chaotic enough, there’s also the fact that MSPs are becoming more operationally mature every day. If your company culture is static, you risk being left behind.

Take documentation for example. In our experience, most MSP leaders are fully aware of the value of great documentation. The problem is getting their teams to do it. But how? After working with 1000s of MSPs to implement IT Glue, we have a pretty good understanding of what it takes to build a documentation culture in your team. So we’re going to share some of the wisdom we’ve gained.

It Starts at the Top

Leaders lead. There’s no other way to say it. If your executive leadership is not engaged in documentation, nobody else will be either. But when the CEO declares documentation to be a priority, that sets the tone. But it can’t be just talk. Management needs to create incentives to get the team to document, make investments in automation to make it easier, and make sure techs have enough time to document properly. Documentation must be built into your processes.

Automate

Your techs don’t want to do a bunch of routine tasks any more than you do. They’ll do it if you ask, but that’s not building a documentation culture. Automate as much documentation as you can. Where native integrations don’t exist, they can be built. The more routine work is automated, the more engaged your team will be with the work that’s left.

Gamify

Create incentives to complete documentation. Have rewards for the top documenter of the week. Tie a small bonus into team documentation completion so that it’s a team effort. If you want to bring people in over the weekend for a heroic blast of documenting, definitely make that a fun weekend. But gamification provides intrinsic motivation to document, especially when coupled with small rewards.

Positive Feedback Loop

The more you document, the more your techs will see the benefits of documentation. We hear this all the time from our partners – even skeptical techs are won over when they see how much easier their work is with a beautifully documented environment. There should come a point when they hold each other accountable, too, for making sure that documentation is complete.

Each of these four steps can help build a documentation culture. It starts at the top, no question, and ends with everybody on your team being all-in on documentation. Responses from our partners vary as to how long this takes, but we know that the more of these elements you have in place, the stronger your documentation culture will become.

Learn more about IT Glue.

Posted by Doug Barney
Doug Barney was the founding editor of Redmond Magazine, Redmond Channel Partner, Redmond Developer News and Virtualization Review. Doug also served as Executive Editor of Network World, Editor in Chief of AmigaWorld, and Editor in Chief of Network Computing.

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