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Where's Your Runtime Picture Book?

A lot of organizations have a "run book" – a binder full of step-by-step instructions for accomplishing nearly every major IT task they perform. In fact, the term run book automation, as implemented by products like System Center Orchestrator, are designed to help automate those tasks.

First Point
As a decision maker in your IT organization, if you don't have a run book, start one. Right now. Make your team document every single thing it does. In detail. First, you'll help preserve institutional memory; second, you'll set yourself up to automate those tasks some day.

Tip: Make it a physical book. Electronic documents are fine so long as the electronics are working, but if something goes offline you'll want your run book to walk you through bringing it back online.

Second Point
Make it a picture book. The simple fact is that, when you need your run book it's because the person who's memorized a given procedure is unavailable, or because the proverbial fit has hit the shan. In either case, you want a clear, easy-to-follow set of directions. Like a picture book. As you create your run book, document each step of each task by using screen shots, not just words, so that the run book is as easy to follow as possible when need arises.

And then start focusing on automating those tasks using an appropriate tool (like Orchestrator, if that works for you). Performing tasks should be as easy as picking the task and clicking "do it."

Posted by Don Jones on 02/28/2013 at 1:14 PM


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