Documentation, Notes and Service Procedures

In my experience working in IT I have come across a wide range of issues. One day I will be troubleshooting a problem with outlook connecting to exchange, the next day I may be troubleshooting a VPN issue, then the next day might be working on a new IIS server.
This seems to be the way with a lot of people who work in our industry.
What becomes hard is when you know you have met an issue before(it might have even been a few years ago) but cannot for the life of you remember how you fixed it. This leaves you to repeat all of the troubleshooting steps that you did the first time to end up at(more than likely) the same resolution.
This can be a real waste of your time and also frustrating as usually when you find the fix for the issue you will remember doing it last time.
Keeping documentation of a knowledge base that you can refer back to will over time become one of your most valuable resources. It may take a little bit of time to make your documentation but when the issue pops up again or you have a script that you wish you had of kept then your time will be made up quite quickly.

What should you document?

  • Problems and how you have fixed them. I recommend to include any error codes that you may come across as this will help you when searching for the issues.
  • Procedures on how you set things up including why you have set them up like this.
  • Any notes from classes or practical exercises that have been done as part of training.
  • Any documentation or installation notes that are supplied by vendors, co-workers or team members, I also find it handy to keep peoples contact information for these as they may come in handy in the future as well.
  • Scripts, I usually try to include comments in scripts that I write so I easily know what the each part of the script is doing and what each function in the script is trying to achieve.

Some useful tools to help you document your work

Evernote/OneNote

Evernote and OneNote are cross platform(meaning they work on multiple platforms) note taking applications. What personally use Evernote and something that works great is that it has full text search. So when you are looking for your documentation you will be able to search for what you have written inside the article even if you cannot remember what you have titled it.

Blog

You could start your own blog to write your documentation on, this also shares your experience with everybody else and allows you to use Google to search for your documentation. To search your site you can use a Google search that looks like “<keyword> site:<domain>” or something that looks like this “sharepoint database site:heresjaken.com” or you can have search functionality inside the site.  

There are even places that you can start a blog for free such as wordpress.com or blogger.com

Cloud storage

Cloud storage such as Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive can give you a nice storage place to keep your documentation. I like to use this sort of stuff to store my actual scripts that I have written, I don’t really think they are all that good to keep your troubleshooting and fix records in because they do not have as good of a search functionality as Evernote or your own blog.

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