How a new hire can help with IT documentation

If there’s one thing that seems universal in IT departments, it’s budget reductions. If there are two things, the second would be a lack of documentation. All departments aim to fully document processes and procedures, but few actually do it. That’s why I’ve found hiring a new employee to be a wonderful time to evaluate and update that documentation.

Google Drive Documentation

Image Credits: Jeremy Lesniak

Documentation is important – everyone knows that. Archiving information for the ages, or at least the next few years, can make lives easier, save money and avoid crises. That’s why I recommend starting by giving the new hire a copy of relevant documentation and a notebook. Not a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone. A plain-Jane heft of bound paper. Ask the new hire to document every question they have as they run through their training period and first few weeks on the job. Those questions, and their answers, become additions to your documentation. Why paper? Because it’s easy to sketch, note and make a quick note. I’ve also found people more likely to write down seemingly-trivial questions on paper that they’d never boot up a laptop to write.

A different perspective

It’s important to meet with the new hire periodically and discuss the questions. This is standard procedure in most organizations, but it’s important to review the contents of the notebook at each meeting. The longer anyone works at an organization the more comfortable he or she becomes with the status quo. By reviewing the new hires questions, you’ll better understand the perspective of someone who hasn’t been repeating the same procedures yet. You’ll see the need for additional and edited documentation, but I’ll bet you also see other things worth updating.

Notebook DocumentationChances are the observations of a new employee will get you thinking about a lot of things. When you create a new password so they can manage the backups, you’ll likely check that the backup documentation is accurate. That can lead you into removing any unnecessary users from the backup pool and checking the age of the media. Of course, you’ll repeat this for all of the other roles that this new employee is involved in. It’s probably going to pile a ton of work on your plate, but it is important to keep information current.

While we’re at it, I suggest giving the new employee some responsibility to create documentation if one does not exist or edit the existing text. Not only does this free you from writing it, but it helps the employee remember the process better. After all, if she writes it, she’ll be more likely to remember it. More important, it will give them a sense of inclusion which is critical for a new hire. If you have the documentation done in an online space like Google Drive, even temporarily, it will be easier to manage.

I know that no IT staff will ever fully document their operations. After all, as an IT manager you may review staff responsibilities if you know your staff has enough time to do backburner work instead of being in the field troubleshooting. However, it should be a goal. The reason being any amount of documentation streamlines processes, evens out understanding amongst staff and avoids the perils of keeping data lodged squarely with a single individual. Many of us have had to scramble to catch up after a key staff left the company along with critical and undocumented information. Documentation helps save you or your client a splitting headache.

Jeremy Lesniak
Based in Vermont, Jeremy Lesniak is managing editor at aNewDomain.net and founder of Vermont Computing, Inc. and whistlekick.com. Email him [email protected]
Jeremy Lesniak
Jeremy Lesniak
Tags: Business Management,Technology
  • Guilherme Domingues

    Great article ! In my opinion the most important part of these oportunnity is validate documents and process by the new IT hired professional. I’ve been practicing the same idea too, but we’ve using mediawiki to share and keep updated our documents and procedures.