What would you say is the most crucial aspect of being able to grow your IT Solution Provider or Managed Service Provider (MSP) business?

Marketing? For sure. You can be the best IT company in the world, but if nobody has heard of you, then there is no point. How about technical skills? Absolutely. Every MSP needs to know what they are doing.

The answer I rarely hear is documentation. Yet, documentation is an essential aspect of preparing your MSP business for growth.

There is a lot of information inside your business. It’s valuable, needed to run your business, and required if you want to grow your company.

Typically, however, this information is stored in one place — people’s heads. The mind is a terrible place to store information. Why? Because it creates a single point of failure (SPF).

What are SPFs?

Most businesses have SPF’s. They are valuable individuals who have a lot of experience or knowledge. An SPF could be:

    • A senior technician in your business
    • Your service desk manager
    • You as the business owner

Preventing a single point of failure

These SPFs are valuable, but they pose a real threat to your business. What happens if the SPF becomes sick (or worse) is no longer able to work? That knowledge is no longer available to your business.

What happens if the SPF is busy or unable to answer queries from colleagues? The lack of that knowledge will slow your business down significantly.

What happens if the SPF decides to leave the business and take that knowledge elsewhere — perhaps even a competitor? Disaster.

If you want to mitigate or eliminate SPF’s in your business, then you need to get information out of heads and into external systems.

Document everything!

Some prominent places to start with documentation are:

    • Client Networks: IP address, server user names and passwords, etc.
    • Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs): How do you get critical tasks done? Document the steps you take.
    • External Relationships: Who supplies which services and solutions to your business? How can people within your business contact these suppliers?

While most MSPs focus their documentation efforts on client networks, they rapidly realise that all aspects of an MSP business need documentation. If somebody within your business needs a piece of information, then it should be documented somewhere!

The mind is a terrible place to store info

Most MSP businesses have a single point of failure (SPF) within their organisation. Why? Because of key individuals within the business who store knowledge in their heads.

To avoid creating a single point of failure (SPF) within your business, you need to document information. Doing so will enable your business to become more efficient, scale in size and ultimately, become a business that isn’t reliant on any one individual.

What areas of your MSP business do you want to document? What are you currently struggling to systemise? Leave a comment below or get in touch — I’d love to hear from you!

Photo: mrmohock / Shutterstock

Richard Tubb

Posted by Richard Tubb

Richard Tubb is a blogger, speaker, and author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the Northeast of England. He provides expert advice to help MSPs grow their IT business, and he has helped the owners of hundreds of MSPs to free up their time, concentrate on doing what is important, and make more money.

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    This is absolutely necessary. But … how to avoid that this company documentation is not used against the company itself? For example: An employee who takes all that documentation out of the office (through screenshots, emails, etc.) and delivers it to the competition?

    Reply

  2. Richard Tubb

    Anthony — while there are auditing and technology you can use to protect your data, the answer to your question is more a trust and culture than a technology issue.

    If you have strong recruitment practices including Non-Disclosure Agreements, recruit the right staff, and treat them well, you mitigate the risk of data leaks.

    Even if you use this concern as an excuse not to document your business, a member of your staff could retain the knowledge in their head and walk away to a competitor.

    Thanks for the question!

    Reply

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