Operation and Support
The operations and support section allows you to describe how people will run, monitor and manage your software.
Most systems will be subject to support and operational requirements, particularly around how they are monitored, managed and administered. Including a dedicated section in the software guidebook lets you be explicit about how your software will or does support those requirements. This section should address the following types of questions:
- Is it clear how the software provides the ability for operation/support teams to monitor and manage the system?
- How is this achieved across all tiers of the architecture?
- How can operational staff diagnose problems?
- Where are errors and information logged? (e.g. log files, Windows Event Log, SMNP, JMX, WMI, custom diagnostics, etc)
- Do configuration changes require a restart?
- Are there any manual housekeeping tasks that need to be performed on a regular basis?
- Does old data need to be periodically archived?
This section is usually fairly narrative in nature, with a heading for each related set of information (e.g. monitoring, diagnostics, configuration, etc).
Times change and team members move on, so recording this information can help prevent those situations in the future where nobody understands how to operate the software. It also helps to quickly answer basic questions such as, "where are the log files?".
The audience for this section is predominantly the technical people in the software development team along with others that may help deploy, support and operate the software system.
Yes, an operations and support section should be included in all technical software documentation, unless you like throwing software into a black hole and hoping for the best.