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System Documentation Framework

Within IT, one of the things we know we should do, but never seem to have the time is System Documentation. One of the worst aspects is where to start!
Below is a framework that could be used for system documentation and assisting in capturing all the relevant information and ensuring that all aspects of the system are considered (e.g. Disaster Recovery, etc.). As it’s a framework, not all areas will necessarily need to be completed for each system.

Wherever possible, include the supplier’s documentation rather than writing your own version, but it is worth recording the configuration changes to make the system operate in your own environment.

System Documentation Framework

Contact Information

  • Supplier Details
    Include Supplier Name, Address, Telephone, Web Site and any other useful information.
  • Supplier Support
    The supplier’s Helpdesk telephone number and email. Also include any additional information that may be asked for (such as a serial or support number). It is also worth including support agreement information (e.g. their SLA, if they work 24 hours, etc.) and this will assist giving estimated time to fix for our internal customers.
  • Internal Engineers
    List the Primary and Secondary engineers who installed and support the system. This saves time asking who knows about the system. You may also wish to list System Support staff if it is appropriate (i.e. If they maintain a desktop client installation).
  • Internal Customer information
    This should include who “owns” the system and the internal customer base (this will allow us to know who should be contacted if there is downtime).

System Overview

  • Visio Topology
    A visual representation of the system.
  • Overview
    Include Server names, IP addresses and descriptions of the components of the system.
  • Service Accounts
    Include the usernames of account used in the system and what access rights these have.
  • Interfaces
    If the system interfaces with other system (either to send or receive information), specify how the interface works.


  • Prerequisites
    List any prerequisites that are required before the system can be installed.
  • Installation
    The supplier should supply full installation instructions, however, any changes to the default options or any configuration details (such as SQL Server names) should be recorded here.

Shutdown and Start-Up Sequences

  • Shutdown Sequence
    List any actions that need to be taken to shut the system down.
  • Start-up Sequence
    List any special actions that need to be taken when the system is started.

Business As Usual

  • System Specific Procedures
    Describe any maintenance procedures or any other system specific procedures that need to be performed.
  • How To’s/Knowledge Base
    List any procedures that may need to be performed to correct the system, or configuration issues.

Recovery Procedure

  • Backup Policy
    Include how often the system(s) are backed up and the reasons for this (i.e. a web server that does not store data, may not need to be backed up).
  • Backup Process
    Describe how the backup process works. For example: The internal backup of SQL Server is used to create a BAK file of the database at 17:00 each day and NetBackup copies this to tape at 22:00.
  • Restore Process
    Describe the restore process and any additional configuration changes that need to be made after this process.


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