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IT Operations Manual / IT Runbook Template for

Summary and Scopelogo Hot Topic

This template for an IT Operations Manual / Systems-Handbook will help you
  1. that no important item is forgotten and
  2. a common handbook structure is used throughout all systems. This will support easy cross-system troubleshooting and documentation.
The resulting Manual / Runbook is an important deliverable of the overall IT system for
  • compliance with documentation-requirements for systems and processes required by internal QA-department or internal auditing department or external auditors or other organizations and laws
and it is an essential source of information to support
  • daily operations by clearly description of all active and proactive tasks to keep the system running and prevent unplanned outages and by providing all information required
  • special operations e.g. outage planning and all special tasks from shut-down to startup
  • troubleshooting by ensuring that all required information is immediately available. Especially in case of problems this document should contain all information required by internal staff or especially by external experts to analyse the problem
  • all other active and proactive tasks (e.g. Hardware / Software / License upgrades / extensions to cover increasing usage) required to keep the system running within the expected performance limits and prevent unplanned outages (e.g. because of an expired license key or exceeding the license limit)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Question: The Standard Documentation delivered with the Software contains an Administrations Guide. Why do I need to create an additional Operations Manual?

Answer: The vendors manual describes the installation, configuration and how to start or schedule processes and tasks, but the vendors manual does not contain
  • any information about the customized application interfaces to your existing applications
  • no information about those configuration values which you did choose
  • no information about the time when you did schedule jobs
  • no information to whom you assigned which part of the administration and operation
  • ...

Question: We have already an Operating Manual - Why do I need this template?

Answer: Use this template to check your existing operations manual for completeness.

A very interesting opportunity for this important check is a to execute this check during an "Operational Application Review Meeting".
Participants:
  • IT-Manager responsible for this application
  • Director IT Operations (optional)
  • Primary Application Support Staff Member doing daily operations
  • The two Application Support Staff Members who would fill in during vacation or sick leave
During this meeting the IT-Manager or Operations Director asks questions about those topics addressed in our template, and the application support staff members should be able to answer the questions and show where this is documented in the existing operations manual.

For Quality Assurance (QA) reasons such reviews should be executed regularly. The additional time required to review the operating manual during such a review is small and affordable.

The author of this document conducted many of such reviews and identified the area of application interfaces as the most problematic area. Therefore this chapter is especially comprehensive.

Question: I Outsourced the Software Development including the Application Integration to a Third Party. Why should I purchase this Template?

Answer: In too many projects the Operations Manual is far from being complete, often missing at all. If you add this template or at least the structure to your list of required deliverables then it is clearly specified and there is nothing to discuss any more.
This Template costs you less than a single meeting with the vendor to discuss the missing or insufficient Operations Manual!

Question: I compared my Operations Manual with the Table of Contents of this template, and it is nearly complete. But I am very interested in the Chapter "Application Interfaces".

Answer: In this case we recommend our product "Application Interface Checklist"

The part two, the Documentation Template for Application Interfaces is identically with this chapter in our template for an IT Operations Manual.

Question: My Systems are running stable even without Operating Manuals, and my staff members do know those systems in and out.

Answer: Congratulations! - Many of your colleagues would love to have such systems and employees. - But...
  • An Operations Manual is a mandatory Requirement in all Auditing Standards!
More and more laws and regulations require mandatory external audits. For the case that none of such laws or regulations apply (not yet) to you, there are several more reasons why you really should have a comprehensive operations manual:
  • It is good practice to have an Operating Manual. We intentionally don't use "best practice", because an Operations Manual you should already have on a maturity level of "good practice", long time before you achieve "best practice"! And latests after something very unpleasant happened, the investigators will ask for the operating manual.
  • An voluntary audit (if successful) can reduce your Insurance costs!
  • Each Quality Standard requires an unambiguous assignment of all duties direct to persons or via roles. But this requires that all tasks are detailed listed.
    You can purchase this chapter as separate document: Oracle DBA and Application Support: Job-Description and Self-Assessment

Question: When to write this System Runbook?

Answer: As early as possible!
Ideally before testing team starts to write the test cases. To write the test cases, the testing team does need to understand how to use the application.
An extreme approach extending the Test Driven Development (TDD) is the Runbook Driven Development (RBDD).