Better Documenting – Part 1: Reference Documentation

This is Part 1 of a series on understanding the different types of IT documentation, and how you can effectively utilize them to improve your business operationally.

We like to split documentation into three types. Once you understand what all of the types are, you can then start effectively using them.

The Three Types of IT Documentation

  1. Reference Documentation
  2. Actionable Documentation
  3. Retention Documentation

In this guide, we will cover Reference Documentation, and some tips and tricks on using it!

Understanding Reference Documentation

Reference Documentation is the real world picture of your architecture. It contains up-to-date information on all current systems. These can include passwords, details on integrations, and contact and configuration information. It is typically written by all engineers as they go through day-to-day processes. Administrators should and try and make this part of the process as easy as possible with a focus of trying to reduce data errors.

Tips for Good Reference Documentation

Automate it

This is the part of your documentation that should be largely automated. Utilize IT documentation platforms that have integrations to pull in this information for you. Create or utilize API scripts to bring in content from the rest of your tech stack.

Archive…a lot!

This information can become outdated easily. If you are using a product like Hudu, you can move outdated information to the Museum, a storage place that removes clutter and makes it easier for your technicians to find active information.

Keep a rigid format

For the parts of your documentation that need to be manual, make sure you have a rigid structure of what technicians are to be putting in. If information is necessary to perform a task, make it required with your documentation software.

Reduce input

Look for redundant fields and remove them, so your technicians can save time documenting.

Relate, relate, relate!

Don’t know where to put something? Think of your newest technician and think of where they would try and find the documentation. Then, add relations between all possible locations they may also look.