6 steps to IT documentation
IT documentation – What exactly is it?
A simple definition of IT documentation is as follows: compiling a central record of all the information about, and of all relevant components for the information technology used. At a first glance, this obviously relates to the networks and the devices connected to them. In fact, however, the concept of IT documentation is much more flexible. You will often read the term in connection with a monitoring or discovery solution, although these tools only provide part of the necessary information.
IT documentation mainly encompasses the structured collection of information. It will not help you if you only record which devices you use in your company. You also need information on, for example, locations, licences, responsible persons, and the documents for invoices and contracts. You must relate all this information in your documentation. The IT documentation should therefore enable you to see exactly:
- where a device is located
- which parts of the network it accesses
- which software is installed on it
- how this software is licenced
- which services the device provides or requires
- who is responsible for the operation of each device
- which maintenance contracts have been concluded
- when and by whom each change was made to the relevant device
It’s only when you combine this information in a central IT documentation that you can derive real knowledge from the unstructured data.
Why should you use IT documentation?
Primarily, you should create and maintain IT documentation to ensure that you always have an up-to-date overview of your IT landscape. If you want to sensibly plan future investments, you need to know exactly what IT components you have. There are also very tangible reasons why such documentation is indispensable.
Failures of IT systems
Thanks to good IT documentation, in the event of a fault, you will immediately know who is responsible for the faulty system. You also know exactly what you need to do to rectify a fault as quickly as possible and which processes and systems are affected. This enables you to keep your infrastructure efficient, by reacting to and rectifying failed systems at short notice. Such cases are referred to as emergency documentation.
Within the scope of this emergency documentation, you are provided with a bank of restart plans. These plans contain the exact information about which steps are necessary to bring defective systems back into operation.
Through IT documentation you always have an overview of maintenance and licence agreements and the status of each individual device. Just imagine the wasted costs that would arise if you were still paying licence and maintenance fees for decommissioned equipment. By linking contracts, software and licences and listing all investment and operating costs, you have all the information you need to remove devices from your infrastructure completely when you decommission them.
Every IT infrastructure will encounter changes during the course of its life cycle, in order to remain efficient or to align itself with the company’s goals. If you make changes to systems or networks, you should be able to easily see which other systems or even which departments are affected. Even the smallest unthought-out changes can have far-reaching consequences for processes, systems and services. If you lack this overview, cost-intensive failures are inevitable.
Many entrepreneurs and managing directors are not fully aware that there are also concrete legal requirements that make IT documentation mandatory. The IT security law and the regulation of the operation of critical infrastructures (KRITISV) are examples of such standards. It is necessary to also document internal IT, due to the Basic Data Protection Regulation (DS-GVO).
In this context, it is also necessary to mention The German Act on Control and Transparency in Business (KonTraG). This law obliges companies to take measures that allow for the early identification of risks to the continued existence of the company. This naturally also affects corporate IT and is therefore relevant for almost all companies.
Why would you choose not to document?
There is absolutely no reason not to use IT documentation. The days when entrepreneurs and managing directors could put IT documentation aside as an unnecessary expenditure of time and money are finally over. Apart from the significant legal requirements, IT documentation has an important and indisputable practical use: To save time and money.
The 6 steps to IT documentation
The six videos in the series are webinar videos designed to help newcomers to start with their IT documentation. Using a live system, our experts build a complete IT documentation step by step – from the first locations to the documentation of business services and licenses.
In addition to our series “6 steps to IT documentation” we have published numerous other videos, webinars and tutorials for you, which you can find on our YouTube channel. If you are missing a topic or have questions, we are looking forward to your message. Please also subscribe to our YouTube channel and stay up to date.