4 Reasons Why Complete and Accurate IT Documentation is Critical Today


May 17, 2022

Every organization today is facing a similar challenge: How to manage their rapidly expanding IT infrastructures. The global pandemic was a catalyst for digital transformation across industries, resulting in unprecedented IT sprawl as trends such as BYOD and the hybrid workplace gained momentum. What’s more, according to Garnter, more than 85% of businesses will employ a cloud-first strategy by 2025. Meaning they’ll need to account for and manage a rapidly growing number of cloud assets across public and private clouds.

According to recent research, 43% of organizations still track technology assets using spreadsheets, and 56% don’t manage the entire lifecycle of their assets. In fact, more than 60% of IT professionals are missing key information that would help them manage their technology assets effectively. The result? Nearly a third (29%) of IT organizations spend too much time attempting to reconcile inventory and assets. These statistics point to the critical need for effective IT documentation.

What is IT Documentation – and Why Does It Matter?

IT documentation is the process of recording detailed information about your technology assets along with the tasks, methods, procedures, and policies used to manage the IT technology infrastructure. IT documentation also includes credentials and configurations used to access and manage all of the assets on a corporate network.

As you can imagine, this constitutes a lot of information – more and more as the enterprise IT estate continues to expand – and logging it manually on spreadsheets is a never-ending task that’s not only time-consuming but prone to error. About as soon as the spreadsheet is completed, it’s obsolete.

Due to the tedious nature of maintaining up-to-date IT documentation, many organizations fall behind. But having a complete and accurate record of all IT asset data and related information at all times is critical to an organization. Here are four top reasons why:

Maintainability of Your IT Infrastructure

1 – Security

All forms of cybercrime are on the rise. Every 11 seconds, a ransomware attack wreaks havoc on an organization somewhere in the world, costing businesses between $4.62 and $4.69 million, on average, according to IBM. Companies with hybrid infrastructures that experienced a cloud-based data breach lost $3.61 million, on average, while those with public or private cloud infrastructures lost between $4.80 and $4.55 million.

IT documentation helps to mitigate the risk of a cybersecurity incident by clearly outlining processes and procedures for responding to an attack. What’s more, knowing exactly what IT assets you have, where they’re located – either on-premises or in the cloud – who’s using them and other details enables IT, and security teams, to isolate impacted assets quickly, and stop the spread of an attack. Importantly, with complete and accurate documentation for all technology assets, organizations can proactively deploy security software and policies to protect the infrastructure and cut off attacks at the pass.

2 – Mean time to repair (MTTR)

Outages happen – even in cloud and hybrid environments – and when they do, it’s all hands on deck. Maintaining detailed IT documentation can help teams reduce MTTR. Because they have a single source of truth about how the systems and platforms operate, who and what critical services are impacted by downtime, and procedures to follow to get everything back up and running quickly.

For example, runbooks can be used to document the process of remediating a common or recurring issue, and specify who’s in charge of various parts of the remediation process to eliminate confusion that can lead to delays. There’s no time wasted searching for IP addresses, asset locations, or other data, and everyone understands their role.

3 – Cost optimization & ROI

When organizations expand their IT infrastructure in a hurry to meet rapidly changing business needs, they may lose track of the assets they have. Controlling costs becomes problematic and knowing what investments to make next is a guessing game.

To maximize existing IT investments and avoid unnecessary spending, it’s essential to understand what assets you have and how they’re being used. Complete and accurate IT documentation provides visibility and transparency, helping organizations make data-driven decisions about IT investments, plan updates and upgrades, allocate resources appropriately, and budget effectively.

4 – Compliance and Audits

Adhering to increasingly stringent regulations is a never-ending battle for IT departments, as they’re constantly changing. Additionally, audits – either from a regulatory body or a software vendor such as Microsoft – can weigh heavily on IT staff, requiring that they spend hours of time digging up licensing information and other data, and putting the organization at risk for steep fines. If IT documentation is up-to-date, accurate, and complete, locating information to satisfy any type of audit or investigation is fast and easy, and IT staff are freed to focus on more strategic tasks instead.