Let’s talk IT infrastructure documentation. Buckle up … this is going to be a bumpy ride.
Picture it … you just moved into a new role at a new company. You’re drinking from the fire hose trying to get a clear understanding of this new infrastructure and new team. Oftentimes, you turn to existing documentation to help you out. If you’re like other IT professionals we’ve talked with, you quickly learn that what you’ve got isn’t up to snuff or you don’t have much to work with.
Parts of Your IT Infrastructure You Need to Document
Network – Asset lists are great but an up-to-date Visio or network diagram showing how everything is connected can make life much easier as you get your arms wrapped around this new environment you’re now responsible for.
Active Directory – How often did your predecessor clean up the AD environment? When was the last time they cleared out user accounts? Is everything configured appropriately, or do you have GPOs tied to OUs that are causing interference with each other?
Licensing – Do you know when your licenses are up for renewal? Odds are nothing is co-termed, so you have an assortment of dates you need to be aware of. Is there is a centralized and up-to-date document that provides you with a clear view of everything?
Policies/Procedures – Security is the hot button topic today – especially when you deal with auditors. If your policies and procedures aren’t accurately documented, not only are you getting dinged in an audit, but if you become a victim of any kind of security attack … you’re SOL.
Passwords/Credentials – Where do all your credentials live? If you’re lucky, there’s a secure password server that houses all that info. More than likely, you’ll run into the issue where “Jim,” who just left for greener pastures, had all this institutional knowledge and didn’t get around to writing it down before he went on his merry way.
Here’s the thing – whether you’ve been in your role for years or you just made the move to a new company, documentation is the safety net of your organization. You more than likely don’t have the time or resources to go through your environment with a fine-tooth comb and write everything down. Even if you have most of the information you need, it’s probably not in a centralized document that you can share with your team.
So now what?
Start IT Infrastructure Documentation Off on the Right Foot
Missteps during your IT infrastructure documentation process can definitely be a pain, but by starting off on the right foot and taking advantage of these tips and steps, you can ensure you’re saving yourself and your team from plenty of headaches.
Start with Listing Your Known IT Resources
Before anything else, you should start listing all your known pieces of the IT infrastructure puzzle. You should be gathering information on servers, applications, hardware, and more. This is also a good time to recognize who is responsible for what at the moment – get names, emails and user information.
In addition, you should consider including photographs and diagrams of your equipment in its original location that can easily be understood and referenced.
Begin Crafting Your Documentation Policies
Next, your organization will want to craft policies on how you will actually document your IT infrastructure. During this stage, you should outline the goals you have for your documentation, understand who is responsible for what going forward, and craft templates and guides that will help make future documentation easier.
The policies should clearly outline the steps required for new hardware, who is responsible for properly documenting any IT-related information, and how to properly use the templates to save time and effort when recording details.
Fill in the Details About Your Hardware
Noting your hardware, as stated before, is essential, but you should also have details on everything your hardware does. How does one server differ from the next, for example? In addition, these documents should include how devices are configured, how they’re connected to the network, details on password policies for the hardware and other necessary descriptions.
All hardware components should also be properly labeled according to the diagrams you created earlier. This will save time for your IT professionals, prevent confusion and help outsourced IT support professionals that you may call on-site.
Keep Up With Change Logs
You’ve likely experienced it in the past – something is changed in the back end and suddenly everything else isn’t working. Change logs can ensure you can pinpoint what was changed and how to revert it. They should include updates on hardware and software, troubleshooting details and road maps for more serious failures. Your team needs to be regularly updating the change logs if anything is adjusted manually.
Get Everyone on Board
Of course, IT infrastructure documentation isn’t going to work if it’s just one person or a handful of people tackling the job. Everyone needs to be on board with these policies and procedures. It should also be baked into your onboarding and training processes so all employees can be on the same page.
IT Infrastructure Documentation doesn’t have to be a burden …
So, what do you do? You can trudge along with the minimal documentation you have, silently cursing under your breath the next time you need a piece of information in the middle of an outage OR you can talk with Protocol Networks about our environment review and documentation services.
Get in touch with us today to take IT infrastructure documentation off your plate.