System Admin’s Vacation Checklist

Network-AdminNow that we are officially in summer, there are a lot of administrators that are planning their vacation.  The problem is that many of them will have to still be tethered to the office solving problems.  I’ve been in that situation, where while on vacation, I’ve gotten the phone call about a small problem that I could have avoided if I just planned earlier.  That’s what I want to do for you now, give to some things to leave in the office, so that maybe you can get a few less phone calls while you are suppose to be on vacation.

  1. Know the Help Person. Depending on the structure of the company you work for, this may be easy or a little more complicated.  If you work in a department with a couple other techs, then you just make sure that they are willing to help.  Make sure they are on call.  If you are the sole IT person in your company, I suggest looking for the most technically inclined person, and seeing if they could help out around the office with smaller things.  Some companies even have a consultant that fills in during this time, to help out.  Just know who will be there to answer the questions, and make sure everyone knows who to contact.
  2. Make sure all passwords are known.  If you are the only one in your organization with Administrator privileges, then consider either creating a temp account with admin privileges or writing down the administrator account.  If possible, I suggest doing both just on the off-hand chance they’ll be needed.  Give it to a trusted person or the technically savvy person sealed in an envelope.  Tell them to only open the envelope on only if needed basis.  If when you return the administrator password envelope was opened, then change the password.  Then delete the temp account when you return.
  3. Know the “everyday problems”. In every job I’ve ever had, I’ve had systems or processes that I’ve had to check on frequently.  Make sure that whoever is watching your job while you are gone is aware of this systems, how to monitor them, and what to do if there is a problem.  This won’t work in every example, depending on who you’re handing the reigns over to, but some of the simple stuff may be easy to hand off.
  4. Be Reachable Make sure that you’ve cell phone has appropriate calling plan, so that you are reachable in an emergency.  I know this isn’t what we like to hear, but it’s a necessary evil.  If you are planning to travel outside of the country make sure your calling plan allows international calls.  The last thing you want is being called and having a huge bill the following month.  If possible also make sure that if needed you can remote into the systems in case of an emergency.
  5. Reschedule Meetings. If you have projects that are coming up, or will continue while you are on vacation, then make sure you either adjust the schedule so they are either before or after your vacation.  Don’t just cancel them, and then when you get back try then to schedule, this may needlessly delay projects and cause more problems than needed.
  6. Auto-responder. There is a reason that Outlook has the auto-responder, use it.  Let people know what days you’ll be out of office and when you plan on returning.  Also give them the alternate contact information, so they know who to look to when they are having problems.  Also I suggest that you let people e-mailing you if or when you might respond.  I’ve had people, even on vacations, say they sporadically are checking e-mail and have gotten responses.  So let people know what to expect.
  7. Keep Vendor Number and Info Accessible.  In the off chance that the network crumble to the ground while you are on vacation, and you need to contact someone for help make sure that information is accessible.  I’ve fallen for this trap.  All the vendor information was on my work network, and when the internet went down, I wasn’t able to access it, and had to call and let them know.  So I suggest emailing or saving to a flash drive the information you may need in an emergency.  If you email it to yourself, make sure it’s an external email, so you’ll have it.

Now as long as you have everything prepped and your replacement has all the information that they need and are willing to step up in your absence, then you’ve laid the groundwork to have a good vacation that is limited by the amount of calls that you receive.

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