A runbook – is a manual containing an extensive set of instructions that help IT specialists maintain the daily routine and operations of a computer system or network. Runbooks are usually carried out by system administrators or operators to keep the information about system infrastructure and operations in one place.
Writing a runbook might become easier if you know the particular tips and tricks. You won’t find a step-by-step guide on how to create a runbook in this article, but you will find useful insights which might come in handy when producing such IT documentation. Keeping this advice in mind will have you documenting like a pro.
1. Don’t procrastinate
A runbook tends to be quite an extensive piece of IT documentation, so producing one requires a considerable amount of time. The last thing you want to do is to leave this job low on the totem-pole as it would turn into a real nightmare later on. Remember, imparting technical knowledge in details is a really complicated and demanding thing to accomplish. Instead of leaving it for later try working on your runbook consistently and regularly while documenting all the procedures and operations of the system. This way, when the time comes, you’ll find it much easier to gather them into one runbook.
2. Remember about your reader
The things which are obvious to you, might be a foreign language to your reader. Make sure your approach to creating this helpful manual is as detailed as possible and you don’t miss any steps. All of the info in the runbook should be easily interpreted and understood. The best way to explain all the procedures and operations is in a step-by-step instruction set, complete with screenshots and other visual aids.
3. Choose the right tools
Runbooks tend to be extensive, but the right tools can make creating one quicker and easier. Make sure you don’t waste the time on performing particular tasks manually when they can be done automatically. For instance, in order to document operations and procedures, it’s better to refer to a process-documentation software. One program is StepShot, a content-development tool for creating IT documentation. Automatic screenshots (complete with detailed instructions) come with each click. You are able to edit the newly created runbook until it contains all the needed information. The guide can be as well updated any time.
4. Start documenting while developing
Cooperation of Development and Operations teams is crucial in the process of producing a runbook. This kind of a help-document is mostly written by an IT Operations team after the development is completed. It is recommended for developers to write a draft runbook in order to avoid the operability problems in the future.
“If the software development team writes a draft of a runbook or an operation manual, many of the operational problems, that are typically found during pre-live system readiness testing, could be caught and corrected earlier.” Matthew Skelton in “Operability can Improve if Developers Write a Draft RunBook”
These tips will significantly reduce problems and difficulties many face in the process of creating a runbook for their organization.