February 11, 2022
Very often, one encounters an IT inventory in IT departments that is at least in basic form and from which at least part of an IT documentation can be derived. It is not uncommon for these lists to have been created using the existing tools from the Office package. In addition, a wide variety of tools are also used to record the hardware and the results are recorded in elaborately formatted Excel sheets.
Rather bad than good is the fact that access to Excel documents is usually not possible for several people at the same time. If the documents are stored on the file server, a user who has the document open locks it out for everyone else.
Even the modern form of Excel, namely the version from Office365, has its disadvantages for this task. Today, we want to shed light on why Excel or Word is not an adequate solution for a professional IT department in the long run when it comes to IT documentation.
Spreadsheets as IT documentation?
Excel is a true jack-of-all-trades. It is indeed impressive what people who are familiar with the functions, macros and VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) can conjure out of the empty basic framework. The customizable views and columns make it possible to create very respectable constructs at first glance.
Of course, the tinkerer in us gets itchy fingers when it comes to creating an inventory list in Excel as well. And to be honest, for many, especially smaller IT departments, this is also one of the first steps towards an IT inventory. And as long as the number of devices is not in three-digit dimensions, you can also keep track of them with some deductions.
So why not use Excel?
On the one hand, we know the problem with Excel in particular, that in the locally installed version only one user can access and change the document at a time. This often makes it difficult for several users to use and especially to change the contents.
But even those who already use a more modern version of Excel, namely that of Office 365, are confronted with problems that may not even appear at first. Namely, the evaluations of the data. Much more than a list of all devices is not possible without a lot of effort, and even the filter options do not help much in this case.
In addition, the entries in Excel for this purpose have to be made manually. Regularly checking, revising and updating the data there thus quickly becomes a tedious task that is too difficult to manage.
If the effort is too great, regular updates are left out of the equation
Normally, an emergency manual or a restart plan is also created from the inventory data and IT documentation. But what use are these documents, which may even have been prepared neatly and semi-professionally with a great deal of effort, if the data they contain does not correspond to the latest status of the IT network? Correct, namely nothing at all.
In the best case, the measures described there only work incompletely; in the worst case, even more damage is caused by outdated or incomplete information than would already occur in an emergency.
The call for professionalism is usually only really heard in the event of an emergency.
At the latest when stakeholders such as management or the security officer approach the IT departments and demand up-to-date data, IT managers would like to wipe the sweat from their foreheads. You can try, it is best to then use the printed Excel lists with the incomplete and partially outdated data or the “Emergency Manual.docx” from 2016.
You realize what we are getting at? Yes, we would like to point out to you urgently and BEFORE THE CASE OF DAMAGE that there is a better solution for this.
What professional IT documentation can do
We are talking about professional IT documentation. Because such a professional solution is by no means just an inventory and listing of all devices. A professional solution independently retrieves all device data from the network. All network devices such as computers, printers, switches, routers, access points and much more are taken into account. However, this data is then not stored in a file, but in a central database. In most cases, this is a professional SQL database.
Furthermore, a good professional solution is characterized by the fact that additional data, such as licenses, warranty or maintenance contracts or other information, can be added manually and even assigned to individual devices. Data from the Active Directory is also automatically documented to provide a complete overview of all aspects of a network.
What do you do with the collected data?
Since most of the data collection is automated and the information is updated at regular intervals, the most up-to-date network information can be accessed at any time if necessary. In the case of professional IT documentation, this means nothing other than calling up a corresponding report at the push of a button and then outputting it in the desired form. Whether this is then an Excel list, a PDF, a Word document or in the form of an e-mail is up to you. In any case, a manager who requires an overview of IT will be up to date on the current status within minutes.
And by the way – the emergency manual is also constantly kept up to date in this way. There is no outdated information there and therefore no danger of being lulled into a false sense of security.
Docusnap as the perfect solution
Those who already use Docusnap know what it means to always have your finger on the pulse of your network. With customizable reports, a wide range of analyses and adjustable reminders for important dates, Docusnap has everything you need for professional IT documentation. But that’s not all. Shared access is no problem thanks to the central database. Here, no one locks out the other.
But Docusnap would not be Docusnap if it did not go one step further. Because not all data is always relevant for all other departments. Or should not be visible at all. To counteract this, Docusnap also has its own user administration, with which it is possible to set very granularly who can or may see what.
In this way, management, for example, can also access the current data relevant to them at any time, even during a meeting. And they can do so with the certainty that they are using the actual and current data. With such an organized IT, every boss will be happy.
It is commendable if any kind of inventory takes place at all. However, if you want to actually benefit from it and rely on data integrity and timeliness, you should go for a professional solution like Docusnap. Thanks to the excellent support team, getting started or making the switch is a breeze.
And as a highlight, our support also offers full professional support for this 30-day trial version and helps with open questions or assists with the installation – also free of charge.