Hello there! I'm Andrew Miner, the creator of Runbooks. I've been a software engineer, and a manager of software engineers for over 20 years now. In that time, I've used a great many "how to" documents, and wrote a great many as well. Except, they were always in makeshift tools which left a lot to be desired. I recently had the opportunity to start this company, and I decided that was the problem I wanted to solve.
What is a runbook?
A runbook is essentially a checklist. They can be very simple (a quick reminder of a few steps), or very formal (a pre-launch checklist at NASA). Some are a mere handful of bullet points, while others are robust documents with pictures, charts, and detailed instructions. They are often technical: but not always.
The thing they have in common is that they almost always meet one (or more) of these criteria:
there are more steps than you can easily memorize
it's mission (or safety) critical that each step be performed as specified and/or in a specific order
you only do the task at long enough intervals that you forget the details between each occasion
you need an audit trail of who performed (and/or signed off on) which steps
you need new people to be able to easily learn the procedure with little training
you have to perform the procedure accurately on short notice at awkward times
Most business have at least a handful of procedures which meet the criteria above, although many don't actually take the time to write them down. Here are some examples of runbooks I've used which match up with the list above:
Perform a manual test pass on Runbooks
Conduct a pre-flight inspection of a small aircraft
Drain and clean a hot-tub for the summer season
Perform a major product launch
Self-directed on-boarding for new employee
Respond to a "Disk is nearly full" alert on my servers
What to expect from this blog
In this blog, you can expect to learn about the best practices I and other experienced people have learned over the years for writing clear, concise, and useful runbooks. You can expect to learn about how those best practices are built in to Runbooks, and how to use the product to your team's best advantage. But, even if you aren't using our product, I hope you'll find this blog a source of inspiration of how to continuously improve your team's efficiency, productivity, and accuracy in everything you do.
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