While nothing can prevent an occasional system failure, downtime is something that can and should be minimized. Various studies have shown that one of the most prominent reasons for high system downtime is mismanagement related to documentation. Improper and incomplete documentation always results in confusion, which adds to the downtime. And the longer it takes to restore the system, the more is the business going to suffer.
So now that the prime reason is known, what exactly can be done to improve documentation? Here are some practical tips:
- Document system changes alongside: Whenever a new system is being installed or upgraded, every step needs to be documented carefully. It doesn’t matter too much how you are documenting it, as long as you do. Every setting changed, every patch applied, and every tweaking experimented with, must be listed down if you want to track it later.
- Use scripts to your advantage: Most of the administration tools can self-document themselves and produce the output as pre-formatted files. While it does add a small extra load on the administration, it’s definitely worth it.
- Don’t forget to label: All physical assets with the IT department need to be labeled, right from CDs to LAN cables. The reason is that it helps you to diagnose problems quickly, and is indispensable in case someone else happens to be handling the network.
To many it sounds like a lot of work, and probably is. But the important thing is that without thorough documentation, handling a system downtime is going to be a nightmare.