Your IT guy, let’s call him Joe, has worked for you for 10 years. He’s designed your network, he knows all the log in information for your servers and your business systems and pretty much everything that has to do with the computer set up that you have. He created it, and he’s got the information. When Joe’s around, it’s all OK.
One day, Joe’s girlfriend breaks up with him. Heartbroken and distraught, Joe goes off the grid. He quits with a two word email to you, his boss, and moves to the mountains to live in a commune. Does he leave a detailed list of all the information that you need to keep your business running? Nope. Does he reply to any of your increasingly frantic emails? Not at all.
[pullquote]IT documentation is like having the keys to your safe deposit box. It’s a critical piece to the puzzle of your company. [/pullquote]
Joe’s left you in trouble, and he doesn’t care. But if he’d kept records, if he’d kept IT documentation, you wouldn’t be wasting your time trying to get the phone number for his mountain hideout.
IT documentation is like having the keys to your safe deposit box. It’s got all the information about your network – how things are linked together, what servers are performing what service, password information, administrative log-ins, domain register information, all the stuff that suddenly becomes wildly valuable when you realize you don’t have it anymore.
So when your IT guy (or gal) leaves or you switch companies, two things can happen. Either they had good IT documentation, and you give it to your new IT company. Or they didn’t do anything, and you have to pay to get all the information (that you already paid someone to put together once!) back.
It’s in our blood, our DNA as people, to tell stories. We used to tell them around the campfire, having an elder tell the tales of our history, and they’d tell the stories to the next generation, and in that way, the information was kept safe. But we’ve moved beyond the oral tradition. We smartened up and realized that we no longer have to rely on just a few people holding the information in their heads; we write things down now. We keep records.
Your IT information should be caught up with the modern world; it should be written down, it should be updated, and it should be accessible. Don’t rely on it staying safe inside one person’s head. It should live outside of the IT person, because it’s such a critical piece to the puzzle of your company and how it works.
Make sure you know your IT company or IT person has information stored and saved. There should be a database of passwords and information that’s updated. Hold your IT company accountable, so when Joe heads for the hills, you’re not left high and dry.