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Creating a Systems Management Process

July 3, 2014

Creating a Systems Management ProcessJust last month, I read an article about a cloud provider where an IT administrator mistakenly shut down all the servers in the data center. The news went viral and within minutes, “fat-fingered IT admin” quickly became a joke in every IT shop. Having a troubleshooting and management process will help you, not only with little issues but also with major problems. All too often you hear stories of administrators deleting user accounts and files, or changing settings that sometimes can’t be undone without getting experts at a round table, which of course comes with a hefty tag. These days, you have to be the jack of all trades for your IT team. 

IT Systems Management Cheat Sheet
  1. Create a troubleshooting plan, practice and stick with it. Learn to maintain your cool when disaster strikes. My process typically begins with gathering facts; what happened and when, who is affected, is the system still accessible, what’s the log rotation cycle, where is the backup and how recent is it? If the system is up I quickly start reviewing logs, audit trails and alerts. I find this to be quickest way to paint the picture when troubleshooting client systems.

  2. Our HCSS Services group recently concluded a book study using “Turn the Ship Around” by David Marquet. The book goes over several mechanisms for building successful teams and businesses. The mechanism of “thinking out loud” encourages people to do just that, enunciate their actions before performing them. This means sharing information and holding a discussing with your team so they can contribute and hopefully help spot problems before it’s too late.

  3. Create documentation for your systems. Make sure the resources are available to key individuals on your team. I’ve heard so many stories of manuals and passwords that are accessible to just one individual. Unfortunately, disasters strike only when the lone ranger is on vacation and unreachable by phone. Don’t let this happen to you.

  4. Create a change management process. It is absolutely important to discuss initiatives and system changes in a group setting before implementing. Your change control group should include a representative from each line of business in your organization. Each member should comment or question how a change will affect their business unit. The group also records the changes so problems can be traced back to specific initiatives.

  5. Create a test environment. Computers are not a tool of chance. System changes should be tested in a non-production environment before rolling them into production systems.

These are some of the processes I’ve employed in my years as an IT manager. They may not all stick in your environment, so take what fits and make it yours.

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