How to Create a Runbook: A Guide for Sysadmins & MSPs

create a runbook

How do you name a new server, export config data, or fix that one really annoying bug that keeps popping up every 2nd Thursday?

For prepared IT professionals, that information is stored in a runbook. A runbook is a set of standardized documents, references and procedures that explain common recurring IT tasks. Instead of figuring out the same problem time and time again, you can refer to your runbook for an optimal way to get the work done. What’s more, you can also delegate tasks and onboard employees more effectively if you have documentation to train them with.

Whenever you do a task, think of this quote:

“Will you remember how to do these things 6 months from now? I find myself having to re-invent a process from scratch if I haven’t done it in a few months (or sometimes just a few days!). Not only do I reinvent the process, I repeat all my old mistakes and learn from them again. What a waste of time.” — Tom Limoncelli, The Operations Report Card

In short, the less time wasted figuring out how to do a task, the better it’ll be for your business efficiency, productivity, and sanity.

This post will look at:

First, let’s look at two example runbooks to give context on what I’m going to talk about.
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34 Linux Server Security Tips & Checklists for Sysadmins

Benjamin Brandall
March 21, 2018
IT

Linux (or Unix-like) software runs the majority of the world’s servers. This is owing to its incredible power, transparency, and customizability.

While Windows is built for the average home-officer, gamer, or grandparent — and comes with its own set of controls to stop these users destroying their operating systems — Linux enjoys a total lack of restrictions but also exposes the user to an incredible amount of complexity.

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6 Server Setup Checklists for Sysadmins (Apache, Ubuntu, Proxy, FTP, and More)

Benjamin Brandall
February 7, 2018
IT

How do you set up your servers? You probably just know how to, like it’s an instinct. But is it the absolute best way to do it? Are you leaving holes in your security, or forgetting to add users that desperately need access?

Or, look at it another way:

If you’re the only one who knows your server setup methods, how are you going to train your team? Processes are a solid basis for your business’ expansion as the question of how to do a task is answered automatically, in the clearest and most efficient way every time.

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7 Documented Processes for IT, MSPs and System Administrators

Benjamin Brandall
September 13, 2017
IT

Technical procedures — especially those affecting your client’s systems and operations — must always be documented. Details and specifics are too vital for you to just wing it, especially when you’re dealing with long lists of configs, server names, and other easily-forgotten information.

That could be why SOPs (and documentation in general) are so popular and well-supported in the MSP community. Thanks to the wealth of information out there, we’ve been able to put together 7 of the most in-demand IT processes among MSPs and sysadmins.

In post, you’ll get 7 processes you can easily edit, share, and use in your own organization. Since they’re built inside Process Street, when you add them to your account they’re stored in the cloud and provided to anyone in your organization with the right access permissions.

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9 ITGlue Alternatives for IT Documentation That All MSPs Should Consider

Benjamin Brandall
August 9, 2017
IT

ITGlue is a collaborative, cloud-based IT documentation platform created to help MSPs standardize documentation, create knowledge bases, manage passwords and track devices.

As well as documentation, it lets you stay on top of what’s going on in your network by notifying you when key events happen, like an SSL certificate nearing expiry, or a firewall breach.

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