Love it or hate it, documentation is critical for effective IT support. Techs having access to documentation about the infrastructure they support will dramatically reduce the time it takes them to resolve issues. Documentation will also increase the quality of support by creating repeatable procedures.
Like many things in business and technology, there is a spectrum of maturity in how organizations approach documentation. On the low maturity end groups may just create a bunch of folders and documents on a file share or maybe they are sharing a Onenote page with loose notes. Here is a list of documentation systems that can help get your documentation from a messy garage full of unorganized junk to an F1 garage where you could eat off the floor and everything is in its place.
My favorite tool is IT Glue. If you run a managed service provider (MSP), IT Glue should be the frontrunner for your documentation platform. It is purpose built for MSPs with powerful features like built-in sync to your PSA and RMM tools, like Connectwise, Autotask, Labtech, and Kaseya.
Some of my other favorite features of IT Glue is that everything in the system can be linked together. When you open an asset like a Virtual Server, it will show you what Host the server sits on, what network switch that server is attached to, standard operating procedures (SOPs) related to those systems and passwords you may require when working on those systems. All of this information is at your fingertips, hyperlinked together. There are other subtle, but powerful features, like the completeness page. This page shows each client and the percentage of their documentation that is completed. This is useful when onboarding a new client and you can see how much of the documentation you have captured. Another key advantage of IT Glue is that you can share the documentation with the client online. You can also produce physical runbooks to print out, but only if you have the enterprise package.
There are dozens of other powerful features in IT Glue, if you’re not familiar check out their webinars for more details.
One of the key negatives about IT Glue that people note is its price. In order to license it, you’ll need to buy 5 seats, so for smaller shops it can be a tough sell.
- Price - $19/user/mth (Basic) to $39/user/mth (Enterprise)
- Mature platform
- API & Integration with PSA/RMM/etc.
- Domain Tracking
- Linked asset and documents
- Minimum 5 seats
- Limited customization
Recognizing that IT Glue may not be for everyone, here are some alternative platforms to review.
If you have more time than money, Confluence might be a useful alternative for you. The major plus of Confluence is that it’s dirt cheap for small teams. $10/mth for up to 10 users.
Confluence is a great wiki and it’s highly customizable, but it will take a serious investment of time to build the basic structure of your documentation platform.
Confluence has a large community so you can find templates and plugins that may help you replicate some of the more advanced features in other platforms, but it will take an investment of time and the additional plugins cost can quickly add up. One other warning, the SaaS version of confluence can be a bit slow, so I would suggest you get the self-hosted version after you’ve tested it out.
- Price - Cheap!
- 10/mth for <10 users
- $5/mth/user >10 users
- $10 one time <10 users
- $60/user one time with scaling discount
- Cost effective
- Highly customizable
- Requires a lot of time to setup and cutsomize
- Cost goes up as you have to buy additional add-ons for features
IT Boost is a new entrant to the market and shows promise as a mature solution. IT Boost seems to have a lot of feature parity to IT Glue, but there is limited information on the solution since it’s so new. It’s worth tracking their development and position in the market.
- Price - $50/user/mth
- Documentation + business dashboards
- VOIP integration
- Limited marketing materials available to demo platform
Passportal is a well established solution for managing passwords for MSPs. Recently they have been working on a documentation solution. It’s still early days of the development of the documentation platform, but it will be worth watching them to see what the solution develops into.
- Pricing - Unknown
- Combine Passportal functions with documentation
- New product, limited details available
The last noteable solution in the field SI Portal. Honestly, this one needs some work. The basic structure of the platform is similar to IT Glue, but consistent industry feedback says that it’s “unpolished.” This is reinforced by the fact that when I browsed around on the demo portal it throws all kinds of errors and appears broken. It doesn’t exactly engender trust.
- Pricing - $15/mth/user
- Mixed market feedback
Regardless of the direction, you go. Investing in a documentation platform is worth your time and money. Using a standard system will drive standardization and improve your team's results.
Just remember that documentation is a cultural process, you must be ready to drive the cultural change necessary to sustain a documentation culture. You will fail if you just buy the platform and expect people to use it. Training time, project work, and targets are required to get the team using the system in a way that will drive the results you hope to see.