Documenting the Solution

Although it is often neglected in the troubleshooting process, documentation is as important as any of the other troubleshooting procedures. Documenting a solution involves keeping a record of all the steps taken during the fixnot necessarily just the solution.

For the documentation to be of use to other network administrators in the future, it must include several key pieces of information. When documenting a procedure, you should include the following information:

  • Date When was the solution implemented? It is important to know the date because if problems occur after your changes, knowing the date of your fix makes it easier to determine whether your changes caused the problems.

  • Why Although it is obvious when a problem is being fixed why it is being done, a few weeks later, it might become less clear why that solution was needed. Documenting why the fix was made is important because if the same problem appears on another system, you can use this information to reduce time finding the solution.

  • What The successful fix should be detailed, along with information about any changes to the configuration of the system or network that were made to achieve the fix. Additional information should include version numbers for software patches or firmware, as appropriate.

  • Results Many administrators choose to include information on both successes and failures. The documentation of failures might prevent you from going down the same road twice, and the documentation of successful solutions can reduce the time it takes to get a system or network up and running.

  • Who It might be that information is left out of the documentation or someone simply wants to ask a few questions about a solution. In both cases, if the name of the person who made a fix is in the documentation, he or she can easily be tracked down. Of course, this is more of a concern in environments in which there are a number of IT staff or if system repairs are performed by contractors instead of actual company employees.