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A Day In The Life? How about a cycle?

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I recently performed an IT Infrastructure audit on behalf of a company in Canada.  The client was basically satisfied with what I gave them, but wanted me to elaborate on something.

“Mitch, what do you mean when you say we should fully document our processes?  What processes?  How do we even start?

Now, as a consultant looking for my next contract, the easy and profitable answer would have been ‘Hire me and I’ll do it for you.’  However that would have made true the old statement that a consultant is someone who looks at your watch to tell you what time it is.  I did not want to do that.

Documenting a process is easy, depending on how deep you want to go.  The easy way for Windows is to open the Problem Step Recorder (psr.exe) and record your keystrokes.  For more complicated environments, especially remote desktop on other remote environments, I use Camtasia Studio to record my screen, and then go back and watch what I did.

With all that, the best answer for my money is this: Tell your IT guys to keep OneNote open on their screen for a month.  Every time they do anything, log it… detailed steps and all.  By doing this over the course of a month you should capture all of the processes that you do in the course of your regular duties.

I was having a chat recently with my friend and colleague Colin Smith recently, and I told him about this methodology.  He said to me what I thought was obvious… ‘On any given day you likely won’t do everything… but over the course of a month, with the exception of reactions, you should capture just about everything.  It’s like doing A Day In The Life of An IT Guy… but more conclusive.’

Thanks Colin.

Yes, that is true.  While you may want to expand it to whatever period is a cycle (for some companies it might be quarterly), by forcing your IT folks to log and record everything they do in the course of their daily activities, after a while you should have a pretty inclusive set of procedures documented.

A day in the life won’t be enough… Do you monitor your logs every day?  Sure.  Do you perform every task every day? No.  Determine what your cycle looks like… then get to it!

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