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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Ultimate SOP Guide: Standard Operating Procedures Made Easy (Free Templates!)

sop templates

SOPs (often pronounced S-O-P) are basically just another way to think about processes. Specifically, with a focus on formally defining the best way of doing something.

In business terms, that means saving time and money by building a clear, concise set of instructions for all of your internal processes. Policies (or standards) are important too; SOPs are kind of like a hybrid of policy and procedure.

Traditionally, SOPs were useful in principle, but often suffered from being difficult to maintain and crucially, hard to enforce. What good is an SOP if it lives its life sat on a dusty stack of paper forms? Your SOPs should be actionable, and that’s where BPM software like Process Street comes in.

If you understand how to build, maintain, and optimize SOPs with software, you can supercharge your standard operating procedures.

In this article, we want to give you everything you will ever need to know about SOPs, including:

Each section will be as concise as possible, with links out to further reading wherever appropriate. Let’s start with the basics.
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What is Runbook Automation? Process Clarity for More Than Just IT

runbook automationWe all know processes are important.

Having a clear set of processes or procedures for repetitive or recurring tasks is a crucial way to make sure your output is the best it can be every time.

Those set game plans for how to approach a task can also help you to improve the way you approach those tasks.

Part of that improvement process can be automating elements of the flow to boost reliability and efficiency.

The world of IT provides us with a clear example of the vast efficiency benefits which can be achieved through carefully mapping tasks and seeking to improve the process which ties them together.

One such example is runbook automation, and in this Process Street article we’re going to look at:

  • What is runbook automation?
  • How do companies use runbook automation?
  • What can we learn from runbook automation to improve other teams?
  • How Process Street can help you automate set procedures

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