So you’ve decided to forge ahead and start documenting your IT operations. Congratulations! You’re on your way toward streamlining your operations and making life easier on your entire department. As we discussed in “Documentation: Just do it,” documenting the details of operations, projects, responsibilities, and procedures can be invaluable in troubleshooting problems and getting new hires up to speed.
While there are many methods for handling documentation chores, getting started is usually the most difficult part. So we asked TechRepublic contributing author Blaine Warrene to create a download that will help you over the first big hurdle: getting all the critical data into one document. Once you’ve captured the details of your IT infrastructure and any other critical information, you can tackle the job of updating and using this new knowledge base to guide and support your department.
Our download is an Excel workbook consisting of four sheets designed for IT documentation:
- IP Scheme—Use this worksheet to get your IP architecture “on the record.” You can add WAN connection or subnet information if you have several zones in your LAN. You’ll be able to track how your range of IPs is distributed and have a convenient list of all the fixed IPs for troubleshooting (ping and telnet), as well as a quick reference when you need to add a new piece of hardware.
- Contact Info—This sheet lets you store all your staff contact data. There’s also a place for you to reference your vendors and set up a list of emergency response team members who are available at all times. By distributing this sheet to your staff, you can ensure that everyone knows who to call when problems arise.
- Inventory—Even small companies with only a few end users can benefit from the Inventory worksheet. It’s handy for maintaining the integrity of records and for determining who has a particular piece of hardware. It also enables you to drill down on individual specs (for example, memory and drive space) for deployed workstations. All you have to do is use Excel’s Data | Filter | AutoFilter command to view the information you need. In addition, the sheet includes model and serial number columns, so you can create a quick reference to use when calling tech support for one of the vendors you’ve listed on the Contact Info sheet.
- Projects—If you’re lacking a project management tool such as Microsoft Project, the Projects worksheet offers an effective way to maintain the bare minimum of info on tasks and projects in process. You can use it to check projected completion dates and to create base status reports for your reporting obligations. You can also customize the worksheet by adding fields and setting up functions within Excel to track your percentage of completion.
Get on your mark…
So what are you waiting for? Download our free documentation workbook and get a healthy jump on the often-deferred job of documenting your IT infrastructure and procedures. Granted, creating documentation is no walk in the park. But nearly everyone agrees that the benefits outweigh the tedious aspects of the task. Give yourself a few hours to get started and keep in mind that it will take some time away from other, more day-to-day matters. However, if personnel changes take place in your department or you get into a pickle because you can’t remember where that new server went, you’ll be glad you took the time to consolidate the information that can bail you out.
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