Tech & Work

Documentation list: What the new IT guy needs to find out

TechRepublic member jdclyde has a new job, and one of his biggest tasks is documenting all of the systems. Take a look at his documentation checklist, and add suggestions of your own.

This post was written by TechRepublic member jdclyde.

At the beginning of the year, after 10 years on the job, I was laid off because of a slowdown caused by the housing slump. I took a month to just get my head together and look at training options, but when I found they were limited, I started looking for another job. My other guest contributor posts, which highlight this process, are listed below.

The job I accepted was a part-time position, as the first in-house tech. Even though the company has been in business for over 50 years, they previously outsourced their IT work to a consultant. As they've grown, they've learned about the double edge of technology. It can definitely make you more efficient, but you also become dependent upon it being available.

Since consultants typically have more than one customer, a day or two delay is not uncommon when a problem is encountered or help is needed to expand a network. So, the decision was made to bring in someone to handle all IT needs. Enter JD to save the day!

Did I mention that there isn't anyone at any of the three locations that knows anything about the systems? They've been spoon fed up until now, and nothing is documented. Fun, fun! Has anyone else ever started a new job that didn't have the systems documented?

Here's the list I made to help walk me through the process of mapping out what we have, so we can see what it will take to go forward from here.

Note: This list is also available as a PDF download.

Make a full list of all servers
  • What is the hardware?
  • What software is installed?

- What versions?

- What is the licensing?

- What services are running and why?

* Each service takes up system resources. If a service is no longer used, it should be disabled (improves server performance, security and stability)

* Each service running is another avenue of potential attack. The less services running, the less exposed we are to compromise.

- What services are exposed to the Internet and why?

  • Document systems, as well as any maintenance tasks
  • What anti-virus is installed, is it current, and what is its status?
  • Perform updates of software
  • Apply patches to servers
  • Check system resources (CPU usage, memory usage, disk space usage)
Make a full list of all PCs
  • What is the hardware?
  • What software is installed?

- What versions?

- What is the licensing?

- What services are running and why?

- Document systems, as well as any maintenance tasks

  • What anti-virus is installed, is it current, and what is its status?
  • Perform updates of software
  • Install new software as needed
  • Apply patches to servers
  • Check system resources (CPU usage, memory usage, disk space usage)
  • Upgrade hardware as needed

- Possible memory upgrades on other systems to improve performance and reduce system crashes

Make a full list of network equipment
  • What firewalls?

- What version of firmware?

- How are they configured?

- What are they allowing into the network and why?

  • What switches?
Network connections
  • Document the network connections for each location

- IP addresses

- Connection speeds

- Cost

* Confirm that we are getting the speed we're paying for

  • Evaluate connections. Prices change, but providers will not notify you of price drops or faster connections.
Make and maintain a full list of all contacts
  • Contact list for each network provider
  • Contact list for each software package
  • Contact list for server support
  • Contact list for AV support
  • Contact list for firewall support
  • Contact list for LAN-ACES (Office-Logic e-mail system)
Make and maintain a list of ALL service contracts
  • What is covered by each service contract?

- How long is the coverage?

- When will it need to be renewed vs. replaced?

- How much does the coverage cost?

* How much for new equipment that comes with 1+ years of support vs. renewal?

As you can see, I have my work cut out for me. Do you think this list is complete? Have I missed anything? What would you do differently? I'm also interested to hear stories from my TR peers who have had similar experiences. Chime in the discussion.

More posts from jdclyde:

About

Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the several blogs.

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