Documentation... Why Bother?!
It’s still common practice in our industry to test a cable, a fiber, a twisted pair, and when the result is good, to simply give the green light and go to the next job... without ever saving the result. Well, sometimes it’s saved “just in case”, but it still isn’t uploaded to a database or a report. It would seem that the rationale behind this practice is that saving tests results takes time, and more time means higher OPEX.
Higher OPEX is obviously not a good thing, however, saving time can’t just be about the short term gain. It has to be about what’s best in the long run too.
Here are a few reasons why documenting test results should be your best friend...
- It provides a network topology and visibility. This is very helpful when new constructions are built.
- It ensures that the system is always performing at its best. It provides proof of the system’s performance in your work process, operating conditions and infrastructure. It proves that defined requirements for the system were all checked and it guarantees that no test was skipped or forgotten.
- It eases monitoring and automation. It confirms that, when issues arise, they are the result of something new, and not of an old job that was poorly done.
- It speeds up repair and maintenance tickets. It allows comparing what is supposed to be there with what is actually there.
- It protects everyone that passes through a plant, a patch panel, a hub, etc. (operators, vendors, contractors, to name a few). The condition of the system is only as good as the condition it was left in by the last person who interacted with it.
- It provides a visibility over the entire system. It offers the ability to compare regions, see who is doing a better job, a faster job, why, when and how! Thanks to dynamic and intelligent reports, process improvement information is within reach. It’s a huge source of information for anyone who takes the time to dig through it.
- It compares fibers within a cable or pairs within a bundle. It shows know which one is performing better, which one brings higher revenue-generating traffic faster, which ones need to be replaced, etc. It allows managers to make a bandwidth allocation plan and optimize the total bandwidth.
- It helps getting a return on money invested in test equipment and testing itself. This usually represents most of the investment.
- It prevents from results falsification to get the job done faster (not that anybody would ever do this).
- Testing without formal documentation is meaningless for audit and inspection purposes.
Whether you prefer to generate and save reports or upload test data to a larger database is entirely up to you. However, saving test results should not be overlooked just to save a few minutes at the end of a work day. You’ll benefit greatly in the long run. To learn how, look for solutions that are specifically designed to make this task much easier, such as FastReporter and EXFO Connect.