Friday, December 22, 2017

Network Documentation: Start Somewhere

I can't count how many conversations I've had over the years about how to "get started" with network documentation. The truth is, everyone in this business has already started. That's not the challenge.

The challenge is to create a system that's scalable!

If you think you're at the stage where you don't have a system, that just means you're really at the stage where you need to start taking stock. Where you keep track of domain name registrations? Server IP addresses? Passwords? Client usernames and passwords for Microsoft licenses? Network maps? DNS configurations? etc.

If you have more than a couple of clients, you simply can't keep all that stuff in your head. So where is it?

There are three fundamental approaches to documentation that work:

1) Index where everything is kept

2) Create a tiered storage system

3) Keep everything in one place

No matter what people have tried, #3 is simply impossible. But it's still a legitimate goal because you CAN manage to get MOST documentation in one place. Generally, that place is either going to be a storage area (Server "X" drive, ShareFile, OneDrive, DropBox, JungleDisk, Achor drive, Datto drive, etc.) or a software package (IT Glue, Docusnap, Confluence, OneNote, PassPortal MSP, SharePoint, etc.). Some people even attempt this with their PSA or RMM tools.

If you can get most of your most important documentation in one place, then you just need to know how to access the rest of the documentation as needed. Some might be stored on individual client servers or or storage arrays. Some might be in various tools (e.g., You might store most network-wide information in ITGlue but keep individual PC information in the RMM tool.). Very often, license information is stored at paper documents for older licenses and electronic files for new licenses.

So, as you can see, the three "systems" all come into play. Keep as much as you can in one primary storage system or tool. Then keep other information where it makes the most sense. And that leads to the final element: Index it all or create a system so everyone can know where everything is.

One of the obvious weaknesses of "modern" education is that tests often require students to memorize arcane information. This is obviously a problem because you are rarely in a position in the real world where you cannot access books, tools, libraries, or the Internet. So the skill you need for success in the real world is not to memorize everything: It is to know how to find the information you need.

- - - - -

Now is the time to start building your Network Documentation Library for 2018. Create a ticket in your ticketing system to start gathering information.

Job One: Figure out where you have all this information now.

Write it down. If you haven't made an effort to be organized in the past, the information is probably in a different place for each client. That doesn't matter at this point. Just write down where it is located. At a later stage, we'll scoop it all up and put it where it belongs.

Also . . . start thinking about the information you need to keep and the information you don't need to keep.

Check in next Friday for another post on network documentation.

Feedback welcome.


Monday, December 18, 2017

Register Now: My 9th Annual "State of the Nation" Address for Small Business IT

Karl's 9th Annual Annual "State of the Nation" Address 

Thursday, January 11th
9:00 AM Pacific / 12 Noon Eastern

Register Here:

Mark your calendar now and don't miss this once-a-year podcast. This will be my 9th Annual "State of the Nation" address for small technology providers.

Don't miss this year's webinar.

No cost. Just register and tune in.

Paste that into your calendar so you don't forget!

Topics Include:

  • Highlights (lowlights?) from 2017
  • Windows 10, Server 2016, Azure, . . . and what's next
  • Cloud Services - Report from the Road
  • The Economy
  • Building Your Business for the Long Term
  • Speculations about 2018

2017 was a great year for small business IT. And 2018 looks just as promising. As I look forward to the year ahead, I am committed to helping IT service providers build successful businesses that look to the future of technology and guarantee their success moving forward.

Business can be difficult in a changing environment. And we are certainly in a changing environment! That's always true for technology. But with the Internet of Things, and the adoption of TCP/IP for virtually all new technologies, our world will change at a dizzying pace. You need to make sure that get your share of the new technology money while keeping your share of the established technology.

I am going to focus on the most important things you need to do to build a profitable business - and lock in a very successful 2018!

Tune in to learn more.

Karl's 9th Annual State of the Nation Address for SMB IT
January 11th
9:00 AM Pacific
Webinar Registration:

- - - - -

Note: I have 100 seats. But don't worry!

One of the things I've learned is that there's about a 50% drop-off rate when things are free. If registration reaches 200, I'll buy the extra seats.

Plan to log in early, though, to guarantee your seat.

See you then.

This session will be recorded.