What to leave when you’re leaving

There's already a post on this topic - sort of. I read this entry, where the author did a good job on a few steps, but I found that a few other tips might be useful, so if you want to check that one out and then this post, you might be able to put together your own plan for when you leave your job. 

I once took over the system administrator (of which the Oracle and SQL Server servers were a part) at a mid-sized firm. The outgoing administrator had about a two- week-long scheduled overlap with me, but was angry at the company and told me "hey, I know this is going to be hard on you, but I want them to know how important I was. I'm not telling you where anything is or what the passwords are. Good luck!" He then quit that day.

It took me about three days to find all of the servers and crack the passwords. Yes, the company tried to take legal action against the guy and all that, but he moved back to his home country and so largely got away with it.

Obviously, this isn't the way to leave a job. Many of us have changed jobs in the past, and most of us try to be very professional about the transition to a new team, regardless of the feelings about a particular company. I've been treated badly at a firm, but that is no reason to leave a mess for someone else. So here's what you should put into place at a minimum before you go. Most of this is common sense - which of course isn't very common these days - and another good rule is just to ask yourself "what would I want to know"?

The article I referenced at the top of this post focuses on a lot of documentation of the systems. I think that's fine, but in actuality, I really don't need that. Even with this kind of documentation, I still perform a full audit on the systems, so in the end I create my own system documentation. There are actually only four big items I need to know to get started with the systems:

1. Where is everything/everybody?
The first thing I need to know is where all of the systems are. I mean not only the street address, but the closet or room, the rack number, the IU number in the rack, the SAN luns, all that. A picture here is worth a thousand words, which is why I really like Visio. It combines nice graphics, full text and all that. But use whatever you have to tell someone the physical locations of the boxes. Also, tell them the physical location of the folks in charge of those boxes (in case you aren't) or who share that responsibility. And by "where" in this case, I mean names and phones.

 2. What do they do?
For both the servers and the people, tell them what they do. If it's a database server, detail what each database does and what application goes to that, and who "owns" that application. In my mind, this is one of hte most important things a Data Professional needs to know. In the case of the other administrtors or co-owners, document each person's responsibilities.  

3. What are the credentials?
Logging on/in and gaining access to the buildings are things that the new Data Professional will need to do to successfully complete their job. This means service accounts, certificates, all of that. The first thing they should do, of course, is change the passwords on all that, but the first thing they need is the ability to do that! 

4. What is out of the ordinary?
This is the most tricky, and perhaps the next most important thing to know. Did you have to use a "special" driver for that video card on server X? Is the person that co-owns an application with you mentally unstable (like me) or have special needs, like "don't talk to Buck before he's had coffee. Nothing will make any sense"? Do you have service pack requirements for a specific setup? Write all that down. Anything that took you a day or longer to make work is probably a candidate here.

This is my short list - anything you care to add?

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