Reports, diagrams, spreadsheets sound like fun? No? Well, they should be. Using proper documentation skills on a project will be a significant plus to an organization moving forward. Understanding how documentation should be set up is a great starting point. Troubleshooting and diagnosing problems, during or after installation depend on having proper documentation. Clients need to be more demanding more information – not having the documentation of an installation you bought could make upgrading or expanding much harder.
How It Should Be
Documenting a project fully highlights the installation. This allows people involved with the project to fully understand the scope of work. Starting with photographs and videos during the walkthrough phase establishes a great starting point. The capturing of media should continue through the entire project and include all service calls as well. Charts, diagrams, and drawings will make up a static visual representation of what will happen during the installation. Lastly, note project-dependent items such as configuration files, hardware identifiers, etc. These are the baseline items that help both the customer and the client from start to finish. The items gathered should fuel the project to pre-planning/client approval to start all the way through to closeout reporting.
Recording documentation makes saving a network or system less of a burden and relatively easy. Looking back at how documentation was recorded in the last paragraph, troubleshooting should be kept in mind while recording. This will allow the installation teams and client IT teams to have the proper information for troubleshooting situations. An example of how documentation can help would be cable labeling; knowing where the endpoints of what the cables connect to can eliminate a significant portion of troubleshooting time. Another example would be using the OSI model to troubleshoot – this is easy when a user can move through the layers in the correct order. To summarize, consistent documentation involves a continual, consistent time investment, but avoids long-term stress, frustration, and troubleshooting process in the event of an outage.
The client is the most important part of recording information. Whether you are the client or working for one, the information regarding an installation needs addressing, assessing, and delivering. Starting with documentation, clients can understand what the project details will be and work with installers to make sure they are getting the service they want. Next, note taking and recording throughout the service or installation is great for addressing change orders or setbacks. Lastly, closeout documentation provides a client with a final picture of the project. This helps clients allow and other vendors or in-house staff to service issues. As an installer, you want to believe that you will be the only organization ever for another company. However, clients should understand they need to documentation to protect themselves from being in the dark regarding the products they’ve utilized.
To finish up, overlooking the importance of documentation – must not occur. Clients and service providers alike, both demanding and providing proper information, will have a better working relationship and understanding of one other. If you want a project to go smoothly from pre-installation to far past post-installation, keeping proper documentation is key.