IT Support 101: How to Write Documentation Properly

We use technology to make our life easy and comfortable. However, oftentimes things don’t work according to our expectations. Facing difficulty when using a piece of technology is very common. The workstation may not work the way it should have. Maybe a particular software is crashing after the last update or maybe the user cannot figure out how to install or use certain new applications. Solving such issues are the purview of the IT Support Specialist. While some problems are unique, time-consuming, and difficult to resolve; others are simple, time-consuming, and recurring. In all of these cases, documentation can help the IT Support team a lot. In technological terms, documentation is the process of writing down the solution to an issue or to clarify some things or keeping a record of a process, etc. For example, software documentation (aka software manual) is the process of writing down the steps to use the software. There are two main ways we document information in the IT industry. The first one is the ticketing or bug system. Tickets are a common way of documenting an issue. Bugs are issues with the system that weren’t caused by an external source. If you receive an email every time something goes wrong, then it will be difficult to scale and manage by the Technical Support team. That’s why the IT industry has specialized services that can efficiently handle bug tracking and ticketing issue. Two of the most popular application in this category are as follows:

  1. Bugzilla
  2. JIRA

These applications are all in one solution that can help you track user issues, communicate with the users, and provide updates. A great way to use this system is to update a ticket with what the issue is, the steps you’re following to resolve the issue, and the solution you have arrived at. This is important for two reasons.

  1. It keeps the user in the loop. So, the user knows what you’re doing to solve the issue. 
  2. It helps you audit your steps in case you need to go back and see what you did.

Also, you can always write down procedures and policies to create a documentation trail. Such documentation can be stored in the local workstation, in a central server, or online cloud server. Just remember to make sure that it is accessible by everyone in your company. Some of the best documentation practices are as follows:

  1. No documentation: Not keeping documentation is the worst kind of documentation. As an IT Support Specialist, you’re bound to face issues. Not writing them down will cost a lot of time and energy. Plus, it is not possible to remember all the steps or solution of all the problems faced by everyone all the time.
  2. Update documentation: Systems and processes are constantly changing, and so should your documentation. You should routinely update all your documentation with the most recent information.
  3. Short, concise, easy to understand and follow: Best documentations are short, concise, easy to understand and follow. Documentation should be simple and clear-cut so that the user doesn’t have any questions when following the instructions of the documentation.
  4. 3 Steps of write great documentation: Great documentation should have 3 steps. 
    1. Step 1: Very specify and clear problem.
    2. Step 2: Background information about the issue.
    3. Step 3: Exact instruction on how to fix the issue.
  5. Great ticketing rules: If you face an issue frequently then you don’t have to write documentation every time. Rather, you create documentation and refer to it whenever you stumble upon that issue. Remember, a great ticket should start with what the user faced. Then it should follow up with how the issue was caused/created and end with what steps you took to resolve the issue. A good ticketing practice is to create a trail of documents so that later on you can refer it back and see what worked and what didn’t work.

Documentation is a practice that can help an IT Support Specialist a lot. It is easy to follow and time-saving. Always try write documentation that is easy for the user to read and follow.

This is an ongoing series where I am writing about what I learned from the Google IT Support Professional Certificate program. Feel free to read, comment, and share!

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