View Full Version : Network documentation
November 27th, 2009, 06:31 AM
in the process of improving things for customers with better documentation.
looking for a good software package to create good network documentation.
costs not a concern as it will pay for itself in one or 2 diagrams for customers.
December 1st, 2009, 03:37 PM
Anyone? What do you use? Excel Spreadsheets? I'd be interested in hearing....
December 2nd, 2009, 05:21 AM
We use Excel to document the network configuration while on-site. We then import the Excel file into Commit CRM to create assets. We also attach the original Excel file to the account in Commit.
I believe that there are some auto-discovery network tools that automates the entire process, but I haven't used one myself.
December 6th, 2009, 08:37 PM
Would you mind sharing your template? I have a couple of excel templates I'm using now, but I'm just not happy with either.
December 16th, 2009, 08:53 AM
Bump... Anyone got some templates to share? I have some, but am not too thrilled. Was hoping we could have some best practices documentation....
December 19th, 2009, 10:20 AM
We have found that diagrams and asset lists have limited usefulness in a network of under 50 workstations. We mainly use them to see how old equipment is so it can be replaced. As far as managing a network the important information is in the configuration. For instance, I can have an asset list and a diagram that shows me that there are a couple of firewalls that are set up as a VPN. It will even tell me the make, model, serial number and date of purchase. It usually won't tell me passwords, VPN configurations, shared secrets, ports opened, ports blocked or static routes. In a pinch, we can always go look at the physical equipment and get all of the information that most diagramming tools will give you.
We tried the Excel spreadsheets route and that was a mess for us. Now we use a series of templates (in Word) that we created by modifying the ones in Karl Palachuk's Network Documentation Workbook. Once filled in they are attached to the client in Commit under a specific document category we created named NetDoc. Whenever a tech changed something in the configuration he just updates the appropriate document it straight through Commit. Since they are in Word they can migrate easily to another PSA if we decide to drop Commit.
Normally I would share these templates but since they are derived from Palachuk's book I don't think I am allowed to.
December 19th, 2009, 09:35 PM
I have read that Palachuk's book is pretty basic, and for that money, totally not worth it. I would think that Excel would be a better method than Word as you could save as CSV and have it more easily imported...
I once saw a template used by the installer of a large Medical Software company and it was slick, amazing actually. At the end of the install, a macro-driven send-to link e-mailed the manager the complete documentation, and a more end-user formatted version was sent to the onsite contact for the practice. Really neat. Guess I'm going to be brushing up on my Excel abilities... If anyone has any best practices they're using, I'm more than interested in incorporating that into my solution, which I'll probably make available... at least if it comes out decently. ;-)
December 20th, 2009, 02:40 PM
Actually, that book is his best seller. But again it depends on what you are doing, if you just need to collect standardized information then Excel is perfect. We work in far too many diverse environments. The spreadsheet we would have to create would be massive. One client may be using ACT! and another may be using a CNC. Those two things get documented very differently.
December 20th, 2009, 10:04 PM
Yeah, I can see that, we're pretty niche here, so it's all basically the same type of general network stuff. I have been moving away from GoldMine, but it's looking like it's darn-near the closest thing to what we need to be efficient. We have a number of fields we populate, and based on those fields, can generate a number of documents to clients providing them with the information on the service or install we've just performed. Works well, but not perfect, that last 10% is what's making it a joyless experience. Was hoping to have THE program that I LOVE to live inside all day, every day. Alas, pipe dream it seems... Commit, so far, has inched us closer, but created different frustrations. 1 step forward, 2 back as it were.
May 1st, 2010, 04:59 AM
I'm still searching for the perfect system. I'm using OneNote at the moment, which is quick and easy to update, stores its data on a file share on the server, and the OneNote software on our laptops keeps a local cache so we can use it off-site.
The problem I have is when I want to update the template, I then have 100 clients whose documentation is on the old template. Not sure how to get around that... If anyone has any ideas I'd love to hear them!
September 15th, 2010, 11:40 AM
Several of my collegues is using Docusnap 5.0 www.docusnap.net or www.docusnap.dk. I havenīt tried it myself, but they think it is good. It is not an OSS
September 23rd, 2010, 06:11 PM
I've made great looking, and also very effective diagrams in SmartDraw. I love having them. In a pinch I have all the details I need on one (or two) sheets to quick and efficiently troubleshoot. I wish I had them for every site - large and small. Just so time consuming to make. I recently started including a "log" sheet in the "booklet" I put together to make small updates write there by hand. Periodically I'll update the files with the written log.
October 25th, 2010, 07:11 PM
What I have always dreamed of is self documenting networks. I have always considered developing this software (I have a software development company besides my IT company). Would any body be interested in a self documenting, easy to update network documentation software?
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