Sometimes, a company runs into minor technical issues that they don’t have the right information to solve. They may go on and on searching for the solution by consulting the web, colleagues, and company wikis without any success. Therefore, in that case, they can turn their attention to runbook templates that help solve these common issues. In this article, we’ll understand what is a runbook is and how to create one.
What is a Runbook?
In simple words, runbook automation helps streamline the technical operations within a company. Furthermore, it provides a comprehensive step-by-step guideline containing routine procedures and instructions. Users can perceive it as a recipe that provides detailed instructions for efficiently completing a specific task. Moreover, it allows employees to share their experiences with others if they encounter the same issue.
Other than that, having an instructional guide can help the company solve similar technical issues in the future. They can also be used for optimizing IT operations and troubleshooting, thus reducing system downtime. Organizations should provide their newly hired employees with this information so they know how to handle such issues. It also increases efficiency, collaboration, and consistency within the company.
Types of Runbooks
We have already laid out the definition of a runbook. Now, we’re going to discuss the various types of runbooks. Therefore, the following are some runbooks that each serve a specific purpose in solving IT issues.
1. Manual Runbook
A manual runbook provides IT professionals with step-by-step instructions to execute technical procedures. Furthermore, this runbook requires professionals to make manual decisions that, in some cases, cannot be automated due to their complexity. This runbook example includes instructions to solve complex troubleshooting scenarios, data recovery, and other issues requiring human interaction.
2. Specialized Runbook
The specialized runbook is used to resolve more technical and complicated emergencies in the IT department. Also, this type of runbook automation assists IT professionals by providing them with instructions and procedural guidelines. Additionally, these instructions are specific to more advanced technical issues, for example, hardware failure, security breach, and server outage. The use of this runbook can quickly minimize the risk of damage.
3. Semi-Automated Runbook
The semi-automated runbook is an example of a runbook template designed to streamline the automation process while also providing human intervention. This means it involves a level of automation but still requires a professional’s expertise. In addition to that, these runbooks are used to handle various scenarios such as threat protection and more. Moreover, IT professionals use this runbook for system updates, reviewing, and approving critical technical decisions.
4. Automated Runbook
In the automated runbook, the program runs by itself without an operator needing to keep tabs on it. It is fully automated and uses various tools and scripts to perform repetitive operations with efficiency. In addition to enhancing operational efficiency, runbook automation significantly reduces the risk of human error. In this way, it allows operators to focus on more strategic aspects of their roles.
When Should Runbooks be Used?
We understood the meaning of runbook automation, which is how to resolve severe complications and technical issues within a company. However, it is essential to decide on company goals before creating a runbook. It would help if you made sure the purpose of the runbook will serve the company. Therefore, the following section will explain when to use the runbook.
- Incident Management: Your team should be aware of the technical measures they must take in case of any security breach. Therefore, a runbook will prepare them for critical incidents, such as server outages and hardware failures.
- System Maintenance: A runbook provides IT employees with step-by-step instructions on how to maintain various systems. So they are ready to perform daily tasks like database backup without any difficulties.
- Sharing Expertise Knowledge: IT professionals need to share a runbook with the recruits. These runbooks can train and guide them through the maintenance process and improve productivity.
- Change Management: Whenever the company changes its IT systems, it is essential to run it through professionals. Additionally, these changes include planning, testing the software, and implementing these changes to enhance the operation.
- Automated Tasks: As your company grows, having runbook automation is paramount. Therefore, the IT professionals are responsible for handling the development, executing, and fixing process. That is where runbooks come into play, enabling professionals to handle various technical problems.
Why Runbook is Important for Team
Runbook automation is crucial for teams in an organization for numerous reasons. One reason is that it provides efficient workflow and ensures consistent outcomes. Additionally, let’s look at the following reasons why a runbook is essential for your team:
- Standardize Process Workflow: Runbook automation provides employees with codified procedures for various processes like disaster recovery. Moreover, they ensure that your team is fully aware of the tools, instructions, and information for a standardized workflow.
- Eliminates Risks and Malfunctions: If your team has the basic knowledge of the systems, then it reduces the chances of risks. In addition, the team must react quickly in case of server outrage to prevent data loss. The runbook template helps regulate organization programs and systems.
- Seamless Collaboration: When your team has the required information to operate systems, it creates seamless collaboration. Moreover, different members of the departments can share relevant information to handle any unforeseen technical problems.
- Enhance Productivity: A runbook template streamlines the process of regulating systems and enhances productivity. It also allows the team to complete work more quickly and with fewer errors and mistakes.
Runbook vs Playbook: What’s the Difference?
There are cases when your organization and team might forget the process they use to resolve a technical issue. Therefore, you can utilize the runbook and playbook in that incident, but which is the most efficient one? In the table given below, we’ll discuss runbook vs. playbook and offer you tips on which one is better for your team.
|Focuses on specific IT tasks or procedures.
|Covers end-to-end processes in incidents or operations.
|It is used in routine IT operations and maintenance tasks.
|It is used in cybersecurity, incident response, and complex business processes.
|It can be from manual to fully automated, depending on the task.
|It includes automated scripts but also manual execution.
|Interaction of Team
|Streamline the team’s daily workflow.
|Enhance collaboration and learning from professional experiences.
|Includes incident response plans and coordination instructions.
|Contains step-by-step instructions, configurations, and procedures.
|System performance runbooks, Backup runbooks, Troubleshooting runbooks
|Crisis playbooks, Cybersecurity playbooks, Employee training playbooks
How to Create a Runbook Easily?
Organizations need detailed runbook automation to operate through different tasks effectively. Moreover, as we know, a runbook template can analyze potential IT system failures and incidents and provide you with instructions. Therefore, it is essential to know the basic steps of creating a runbook, and to create one, you can read the following instructions:
1. Plan Out Your New Runbook
The first step to creating a release runbook is the planning phase, where you need to consider your IT operations and services. You need to thoroughly look at your incident reports to identify key areas where a runbook needs to be implemented. Furthermore, you need to highlight the recurring internal and external tasks and common issues. Also, ensure accuracy and efficiency in that area to reduce errors.
Other than that, before you decide which processes you need to create for your runbook, look for already existing processes. Besides, you do not need to add those processes in your runbook that have already been solved in the past.
2. Prioritize Processes to Cover
The next step of runbook automation is examining the existing processes that impact the system’s stability, security, and routine operations. Furthermore, you need to cater to recurring tasks prone to issues that pose financial and operational risks. You should review these past incident reports and analyze how they resolve them.
The most efficient way to create a runbook is to categorize these incidents based on their complexity. Therefore, when you have arranged them phase-wise, create your runbook only for the most repetitive issues. Other than that, companies should also share this knowledge with their employees for an effective workflow.
3. Design a Template for Your Runbook
Now, it is time to create a runbook template, as it can standardize your documentation and ensure it has the right information. However, before that, you need to remember a few pointers to create an excellent template for your runbook. Following are the key points that need to be added to your template:
- Name of the Task
- Task Details
- Description of the Task
- Task Owner
- Team Executing the Task
- Duration Of Completion
- Status of the Task
4. Create Runbook Content with the Right Documentation Tool
To create an effective runbook, you need the right documentation tool to create comprehensive step-by-step procedures. Therefore, Docuo is an advanced runbook automation tool that uses AI coding to build an online release runbook. Other than that, Docuo provides IT professionals with relevant documentation tools. These include the copilot feature that automates the documentation process so that your team can focus on coding instead of writing.
5. Conduct Tests to Improve Your Runbook
Finally, the next important step after coding your runbook is to test it for possible errors before publishing. The testing phase can amend any missing, incorrect, or unclear content that can later prove problematic to your system. Therefore, the IT team must personnel test each runbook template for accuracy and operational efficiency.
You can also collaborate with other technical experts for their feedback to eliminate minor errors. Moreover, you should keep the runbook updated with relevant information to stay up to date with the technical world.
Ultimately, creating runbook automation is critical for your organization to streamline the technical processes. Furthermore, it is also vital that you utilize effective tools to create your runbook, which is why Docuo is your best choice. Moreover, Docuo is an excellent tool for creating a release runbook as it provides relevant documentation tools. It elevates your team to create stellar documents with AI coding and markdown features. Moreover, you can also update your documents and collaborate and share information with your team.