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Run-Book(s), Control Journal(s), and Tracking Information for Systems

(pulled from TechTarget on Sept 3, 2022)

What is a runbook?

Runbooks are a set of standardized written procedures for completing repetitive information technology (IT) processes within a company.

They are part of IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) protocols, which incorporate information from IT processes, such as knowledge management and problem management.

What is the purpose of a runbook?

Runbooks provide IT teams with contextual documents that increase consistency and efficiency through standardization. They act as a walkthrough or step-by-step guide for both new and experienced IT professionals within the team.

They are typically used for optimizing routine IT operations and troubleshooting. Runbooks also act as documentation in incident management and reduce system downtime.

A system's "Run-Book" is one place that your& system can gather procedures, lists, cheatsheets, indexes, welcome guides for new system members, and orientation materials so that your& life operates more smoothly. How detailed it needs to be will depend on system communication, shared memory, what skills your& life requires, how scattered your information and projects are, etc.

An example of a Run-Book for household stuff is the (household) "Control Journal" idea from (PDF downloadable) — she outlines a manual that a household can have where routine household management is stored. Let's say it's a 3-ring binder with sections for daily/weekly chores around the household, but also specific sections for monthly or annual maintenance tasks so say "Clean the window screens" may be a March task, so it would be on the March page in the control journal. Other information y'all might add to a home maintenance control journal might be food storage tips, a master pantry inventory list, a wishlist for household equipment or household projects, home equipment maintenance, warranty, & repair/parts information, lists of various home maintenance professional contact information such as plumbers or electricians, or the folk who deliver fuel, etc.

Y'all can have several Run-Books, such as the idea above for a household maintenance journal (Flylady has a bunch of other ideas here, but she's not plural). However for a very large system with low information sharing there should probably be a main/master run-book with orientation materials, a welcome message at the front, an index or table of contents so information can be found easily, and at least one tab dedicated to where to find pertinent info — this is where it might be pointed out that there's a household control journal, what types of information it contains, where it's usually kept, and what it looks like.

We Crisses have several Run-Books, and keep various cheatsheets for how to do certain tasks in some of them, especially for things like our server maintenance which may be things we do only 1 time a year so we would forget how. Another example is we have an EFT cheatsheet kept in a self-work binder along with our system safety plan materials. We have a huge recipe 3-ring binder just for meal prep stuff. We have a system binder where we keep our vision statements, long-range plans, inspirational stuff, our system kids' adoption papers, etc. We have smaller kraft-paper notebooks & composition notebooks with specific topics such as podcast ideas, t-shirt ideas, workshop ideas, trauma narratives (called our "Twitch" notebook and warnings on the cover). And we also have an electronic KMS (knowledge management system) in the form of a wiki (see MultiJournal New) where we can also log internal meetings that aren't done on paper, track links, have endless topics of interest, brainstorm about course curriculums, etc.

One thing we've found is that we prefer project-based or themed run-books rather than a "one run-book to rule them all" approach. The teams in our system who work on certain projects have their methods for tracking things, whether electronic or physical, and it works for them. As a whole system, we don't interfere with what's working for us. So if y'all feel that your "system's systems" are disorganized, consider something to wrap around the methods already in place so that you don't disturb those who are working on projects. You might be more organized than it looks like.

But having system agreements about say putting things back where one found them is also important. We have one space we keep all our kraft-covered notebooks but our composition notebooks tend to get scattered around our apartment, and we're often scrambling to find them. So work on taming the sense of disorganization within the organization by getting folk to agree to keep things in a specific place so that other team members can find them — and make sure that they're labeled clearly and that teams working on things together have agreements about how to use their shared run-books.

Also — we've often had someone who had their pet idea and their pet notebook or journal to go with the idea and the idea often stalled out and wasn't picked up again. When possible, try to work in teams on projects so that the projects get more momentum and are less likely to be abandoned. Progress notes, and what the next steps are in a project can be kept in the associated run-book.

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