How to Create Network Documentation

How to create a network document

A month-old startup or an established business, every company needs a strong network infrastructure to function smoothly. 

Imagine multiple devices connected to a single network. It’s natural for the network to slow down and create problems at times. 

That’s when your IT team steps up and takes charge, right? 

But here’s the challenge. Managing a company’s network infrastructure, minimizing downtime, and solving recurring problems can put undue pressure on your IT staff. So, how do you rise above this challenge and maintain a strong company network without compromising its security? 

Creating network documentation can solve this problem. 

It is a one-stop information center comprising detailed records related to your network the devices connected to it, along with comprehensive diagrams and much more. Dive into this blog to learn everything about how to create network documentation, its benefits, and best practices. Besides this, we will also be exploring the role of network documentation templates in the process. 

But before we come to that, let’s first understand the basics of network documentation. 

Let’s go. 

What is Network Documentation? 

Network documentation is an online document comprising detailed information about your company’s network and all the devices connected to it. It is a kind of technical documentation with the entire network system and its procedures explained using a combination of written text, diagrams, and flowcharts.

Besides company networks, the online documentation software can also contain information about customers’ networks. This documentation helps your IT team find areas that need to be upgraded and troubleshoot network-related problems with ease as and when they arise.

Why do You Need to Create Network Documentation ?

Every business, no matter how small or big, needs a solid network system to operate efficiently. 

But regardless of how strong your network infrastructure is, there will always be some or the other network-related issues. This requires your IT team to continuously work on the back-end to maintain the network and fix problems without compromising the security. 

Well-written network documentation can make the job of your IT staff so much easier. It saves them from the time-consuming research that goes into solving recurring issues and making network upgrades. 

With network documentation, it’s easy for your IT staff to optimize uptime, minimize downtime, and keep your network system running smoothly on all days. 

Let’s look at the many other benefits that building network documentation can bring to your business. 

Top Benefits of Network Documentation 

Here are the host of benefits that network documentation offers: 

1. Brings Consistency in Your Network Processes

Creating network documentation ensures that your network engineers follow the same process while troubleshooting recurring problems. This reduces the chances of errors and promises the desired results every single time. On the contrary, if you do not have such documentation in place, the IT team will follow a different process every time to solve issues, leading to confusion and chaos. 

2. Helps Your Network Staff Keep an Eye on the Network Changes

With comprehensive network documentation, your IT staff can easily keep track of changes in your company’s network, monitor the traffic flows, and identify roadblocks. Since this document has complete information about your network system and processes, it gives network engineers higher visibility into what’s working well and what needs to be improved. 

3. Troubleshooting Problems is a Lot Easier 

Trying to solve network problems with no written documentation to refer to is like making an aimless shot in the dark. Troubleshooting network issues is a lot easier when your IT team has a dedicated document with processes and instructions clearly explained. It guides them at every step, so they can resolve issues quickly without missing out on the important details. 

4. Keeps Your Network Information in the Safe Hands

When key members of your IT team leave, chances are they would take the insights about your network system along with them. This can be a huge loss for your business. By maintaining detailed network documentation, you establish a system where your network engineers keep updating the records from time to time. 

So, even if they decide to leave your organization in the future, you won’t lose the critical network information they hold. 

Best Practices for Creating Network Documentation 

Writing network documentation can be tedious, given the vast amount of information you have to capture and structure. We are here to make your job a tad bit easier. 

Below are some actionable network documentation best practices to help you carry out the process with minimum hassles. 

 1. Decide the Content to Be Included in the Document

The first step to creating network documentation is deciding what to include. 

You would not want your documentation to be all cluttered with unnecessary stuff, right? 

This is an extremely important step in the process that lets you narrow down a list of the topics that must go into the document. To decide the topics, consider brainstorming with your IT team as they will have more insights into your company’s network than anyone else. 

The topics for your network documentation can be around: 

✅ Company server details including its name and IP address 

✅ Networking hardware such as routers and gateways and how they are configured

✅ Active Directory that includes domain names, server hierarchy, etc. 

✅ Logbooks to maintain a track record of all changes made to the server

✅ Network topology diagrams and charts

✅ Routing protocols

✅Security information, and much more. 

Creat a list of the topics and then start adding them to your network documentation template. We will be discussing more about this template in detail later in the blog. 

2. Devise a Policy for Your Network Documentation

Most experts will guide you on the importance of network documentation. However, only a few will tell you how to write network documentation that keeps your network infrastructure in good working order, always. 

That’s why you need a network documentation policy. 

Devise a powerful policy keeping into account all aspects of your company’s network and the network-related challenges you have faced till now. Make policy creation a collaborative process by taking inputs from your IT team and considering their observations and challenges. 

Such a policy will give your network engineers and administrators a good starting point, guiding them at every step on what they should and shouldn’t do. It will give them clarity around their roles and responsibilities as far as documentation is concerned. 

Your IT team can also refer to the policy to understand which network areas to document and identify who is responsible for what. This increases consistency, transparency, as well as accountability in the entire documentation process. 

3. Add Diagrams, Flowcharts & How-to Videos 

Imagine having to use a text-heavy, black and white document on a daily basis. Such a document will end up creating more problems than solving them. 

While creating online documentation for your network system, use a good number of relevant diagrams, flowcharts, and how-to videos to explain your network infrastructure and demonstrate how it works. When written text is supported by impactful visuals, it makes the documentation look interesting and also helps readers grasp the information easily. 

You can add network topology diagrams and maps, cloud architecture diagrams, network hierarchy flowcharts, security diagrams, and asset tracking tables to the document. A major benefit of adding such visuals is that you can go short with the written text and let the images and videos do all the talking. 

This makes your network documentation look light-weight and interesting to read. 

4. Organize Content into Categories & Subcategories 

Creating network documentation is much more than capturing content and throwing it all into the document. It’s also about giving the document a logical structure that flows smoothly from the most basic to the most advanced topics. 

For a comprehensive network document to be easy to read and search, it’s crucial to divide all content into relevant categories. 

Each category can have multiple subcategories with detailed articles on appropriate topics. Most importantly, all categories you add should be labeled right so that your team can quickly search for the information they need with minimal effort. 

You can also interlink related articles to ensure that readers don’t have to mindlessly go through multiple pages just to get a single piece of information. With the right interlinking, they can be directed to the right page in a couple of clicks. 

HighQ shows a perfect example of well-structured documentation: 

Example of well-structured network document

5. Record All Network Upgrades 

Company networks and devices are frequently upgraded. This brings a change in network configurations and procedures as well. 

That’s why it is important to record all these updates in the network documentation from time to time. Not doing so can make the document’s information obsolete, rendering it futile for your IT team. 

Even when a connected device’s configuration is changed, it should be carefully documented. That’s because configuration changes in a device can affect the entire company’s network. 

Keeping a log of all network and device upgrades helps your IT team stay updated with the changes and troubleshoot problems more efficiently. 

6. Clearly Label the Components of the Network Diagrams

When you create diagrams of servers, make sure that you label all the components to keep the confusion at bay. 

As company servers look identical, a proper diagram with clear labels will help network engineers understand which diagram belongs to which server. Besides servers, you should also label all hardware and software components as well as important network cables. 

Clear-cut labeling of servers and devices is a good way to maintain clarity in processes and reduce the chances of errors. 

7. Maintain Your Network Documentation

Once you are done creating network documentation, you need to continuously evaluate and maintain it. 

There will be multiple developments in your network system from time to time. So, it’s important that you maintain your documentation with relevant information and keep it updated at all times. 

Moreover, the documentation should make sense to someone who is new to your company’s network and has no prior experience of working with it. It should offer complete assistance to your network engineers so they can prevent potential problems and avert disasters. 

After launching your network documentation, keep a constant check on how helpful it is for your IT team and if it is serving the purpose. If yes, you did a good job at it. And if not, consider reviewing the information for its relevance and accuracy. 

Network Documentation Template 

The above-mentioned best practices to create network documentation will be successful only if you have a suitable platform to kick off the process on the right foot. 

A ready-to-use network documentation template not only gives you a great platform to create content but also reduces half of your workload. It offers a pre-built structure with a table of contents, categories, and subcategories, so you don’t have to do the hard work of creating everything from scratch. 

Here’s what a network documentation template looks like – 

Network documentation template

As you can see, the template has a space for your company name and logo. There is a search bar on the right and a table of contents on the left. Then, there is a nice theme, with a dedicated popular articles and tutorials section. 

The sections mentioned in the table of contents can be renamed if you want. Depending on how comprehensive you want the documentation to be, you can also add more categories and subcategories. 

Since you have a structure ready, you can directly start adding content to this template. Write from scratch or upload existing docs and add images and videos. Keep adding more pages to the template as required. 

Once your content is ready, get it reviewed by experts, and publish it online. 

Network Documentation Checklist

Before you start writing network documentation, remember to follow this checklist for best results. 

✅ Use simple language that’s easy to read and understand

✅ Structure the documentation’s content logically for easier navigation

✅ Interlink related articles for quick search

✅ Use diagrams, flow charts, and how-to videos to demonstrate concepts and steps

✅ Write short paragraphs and use bullet points where possible

✅ Do not overwhelm readers with large blocks of text. Include some breathing space to help readers grasp the information better. 

✅ Explain complicated terms and concepts separately in a glossary.

You can also define them right where they are used. 

Most importantly, you can adopt network documentation software that is simple to use and has all the necessary features. 

The best online documentation tools come with features like an online editor, an array of formatting options, ready-made templates, and built-in reporting. When you have the right tool, the process of creating network documentation gets even easier. 

Ready to Create Your Network Documentation? 

It’s finally time to put everything you have learned till now into action. 

Creating network documentation is a long and tedious process, therefore, we recommend you adopt one of the best software documentation tools for the process. Once you have the right software, the rest of the journey will be a cakewalk. 

Discuss with your team and narrow down a list of the topics you want to add to the document. Start writing articles on those topics and give them a clean structure that flows well from start to finish. 

Record all network upgrades in the document and correctly label all components of network diagrams. Lastly, maintain your network documentation and always keep it up to date. 

Over to you!

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About the author

Brayn is a knowledge management expert. He has been published in CustomerThink, PointVisible and Apruve. As a customer support specialist at ProProfs, Brayn has been instrumental in building a robust knowledge base and documents that help support executives keep every customer delighted. You can catch up with Brayn on Twitter and LinkedIn.