I wanted to throw something out there and ask you ladies & gents ion the community how you are addressing the issue of documentation.
Looking for a secure, modifiable and user friendly way to document users environments so each tech has access to the information with it being on each computer locally has presented itself as quite the challenge.
We were using MS OneNote for a while. It's great for quick changes, adding pics, and screenshot, as well as audio/videoclips to the documentation. The Notebook was on our Sharepoint server and synced with the laptops. The main problem is the syncing...the employees had all the client data on their Laptops locally. I don;t even need to get into what kind of nightmares can result from this. Also, since the Notebooks are so modular, it's hard to get a unified documentation template in place.
Requirements for a good documentation platform are:
1. Each client documentation template needs to be modifiable in the sense that you need to be able to add to it, because some clients have environments that vary from others and need to have fields added or complete subsections. BUT, the baseline template needs to be set in stone and locked down so at least a baseline of documentation is identical for each client across the board (in content, location, look and layout)
2. File uploads or attachements. PDFs and the like should be attachable to specific sections of the documentation.
3. Secure! There needs to be a login per employee.
4. No local content. Either in the Cloud or on our servers, but it should all be ui and/or web based content.
Extra niceties would include screenshots on the fly and permissions and scopes ( i can allow certain accounts permissions to view/edit/create and also to only view certain clients). That way I could give clients access to view their documentation online.
What are your thoughts on this and how are you tackling this beast?
Inquiring minds want to know! :)
We have struggled with this as well to find the right solution and one of the big issues we have found is containing it all in the cloud or without trace on the local computers, especially with the need for attachments (pdf/doc/xls/vsd/etc). With that said, we have found the use of Service Desk and their concept of knowledge base to work really well.
We have implemented multiple different knowledge bases, each with different levels of security, for example, we have one for general customer documents and how to's, one for customer restricted information (ie passwords/acct info), one for our general templates, one for our internal data center info, etc. Using different entry templates you can then assign them to your specific customers/organizations, and create views to search based on your permissions, so you can search multiple "knowledge bases" at once.
Security can fall in line with your vsa user roles, and you can grant different types of access to restrict editing, etc as needed. in addition you can create automated workflows if and when necessary (for example if you need to notify someone to review a document or update a password every x months, etc). This enables you to better ensure your documentation is up to date.
The downside is the search, which doesn't let you search on customer under knowledge base, but if you leverage the "search all" option in service desk, your able to get a lot more granular both by sorting and column filters.
One issue we would love to get resolved is the ability to view/access this information from the iphone app, that would really enable our techs to gain access to the necessary information onsite securely.
Another thing we implemented is a naming convention to assist with the search. all of our summaries start with the org name it belongs to, so if we had org xyz, the document would be named XYZ: document summary. this allows us to search for XYZ and quickly bring up all their documentation, and then we can sort by category and find the docs rather easy.
On the file attachment aspect, it actually works very easy and in addition to providing attachments, you can also provide links (very helpful for 3rd party site management such as websites, saas services, etc). There is a bit of concern with the fact that the attachments are not blobs in the database but rather stored in a folder structure under your kaseya folder, but we have found pro's and cons to this. One of our fears is that if our kserver ever goes down, we don't have access to any of the information. With that in mind, doing a folder level backup of this specific folder structure along with a weekly e-mail report in excel has proven an effective way to access kb documents in a pinch. Granted it doesnt provide you to the text portion of the entries, but for anything mission critical, including our own documentation, we always keep it in file format just for this reason.
We have looked at many different ways but found this to be very productive and secure solution thus far.
Interesting guys, we to used Onenote but I have always been concerned about the security on the laptops.
I will investigate your solution Bryan.
KASEYA Staff - Is there anything coming to help with this type of request better?
Our company is currently facing the same challenges.
While we have investigated several options we are yet to come up with one that doesn't fail in one way or another (for example: requiring double entry of all data, needing an SQL specialist on-hand at all times, requiring extremely high end servers to cope with the amount of data we want to store).
At the moment we use a combination of Jim2 (an Australian accounting application) and Kaseya along with spreadsheets and manual word documents. Clunky system but works for the moment.
We are partnered with several companies around Australia that use a similar setup and we are all experiencing the same issues.
I'd give anything to hear or see a perfect (or as near perfect can be) system where a technician can easily access confidential information securely and easily and the job can be finished by the admin staff without going backwards and forwards to confirm Kaseya labour VS accounting labour VS customer satisfaction and then update the customer information!!
We use a wiki, tied to ActiveDirectory, for all of our documentation. It lives on our servers and can run off of our DR thumbdrives should we ever declare an emergency.
Which Wiki do you use?
MediaWiki with a handful of extensions including Geshi and LdapAuthentication. It's an older version, spec. 1.7.1, as we installed it over five years ago. However, it's not forward-facing so we haven't had any compelling reasons to upgrade. Still, upgrading to the latest & greatest is on the big list of things to do.
The wiki we run off of our DR thumbdrives is virtually identical. Same codebase, and the database and included files (PDFs, PNGs, etc) are synced periodically. The only difference is that the wiki on the thumbdrives is in read-only mode and has LDAP authentication disabled. We use Ironkey Enterprise S200 drives which do a fine job of securing our documentation should one of us lose our drive.