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application documentation

Hey - if you buy a 3rd party application - lets say an intranet based payroll app, runs on windows server, viewed in a browser, backend DB SQL Server. What sort of documentation about the app and its supporting infrastructure should you create/maintain (the customer who bought the app keep - or ask from the supplier)... and why? Or is it the supplier who should keep all the documentation as its their app? Or would auditors still expect you who host the app to have x y and z to be documented for the app?
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Good question, I am a big proponent of documentation you can't really go wrong with having it. You can't have to much!!

This app will be hosted on your servers, will you be managing it, and backing it up?  Whom will be installing it you or the vendor?  

My personal opinion is to have as much documentation as possible.  The Vendor should be able to provide you with full general documentation, and if they are the ones implementing it then those docs should be fully customized with your IP's, passwords, server names, etc.

I am an IT consultant and I leave ALL my customers with full documentation!  I leave them basically with a script of what I did, not necessarily why, but enough that they could probably copy what I did and get the same results.

I have a real dislike for vendors and consultants who leave empty spots in notes and docs on purpose so you will have to call them for information.

Documentation is key, and has saved me time and time again.
pma111Author Commented:
Us managing and backing up? Do you have a template of what kind of thing gets documented for an internally hosted app with ms infrastructure?
Unfortunately I don't have a general templates, mine are geared towards Exchange, Windows Infrastructure, and SharePoint.

There are templates available online for specific servers and services, often times vendors have something that can work as well.

Just to give you an idea of what you should include in your documentation:

Any steps or specific configurations that are needed.
Server Names
Server Versions
Backup Locations and procedures

Basically you want to document the information you would need to recreate the environment in case of disaster or had to setup from scratch.

There are some free templates at Microsoft - http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/, also techrepublic.com is a good source all though not free mostly.

What I like to do, is to take screen shots and notes durring the process, so I am basically documenting all the steps throughout the install, and implementation so that there is a good record, and then I turn that into something presentable to a client or if it is something for my needs then I usually leave it the way it is.

I hope that helps!!

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