Standard operating procedures (SOPs) for IT (information technology) departments are documents and/or manuals created to explain various procedures within an information systems environment. SOPs provide IT departments with guidelines that can be used for reference and training purposes. SOPs also provide management with a system to amend, update or supersede information pertaining to a procedure. Four key sections are found in most SOPs related to IT departments.
System management SOP introduces users and management to the features of the IT system they work with on a daily basis. Documentation also addresses the infrastructure of an IT system and defines the data structures used to process information. This type of SOP also explains concepts of system preventive maintenance, system modes (batch versus real-time processing) and daily management of system resources.
Security is important in an information systems processing environment. SOPs that address IT security provide information pertaining to security of system applications and access to those resources by personnel. This type of SOP provides information on the management of user IDs and passwords and the frequency of security updates. SOPs of this type can also include documentation on network security for LAN/WAN configurations.
Data recovery SOPs document procedures used for data recovery in the event of a system crash. This type of SOP lists the different kinds of data recoveries (full, incremental or selective) and the utility programs used to perform the recovery. Backup of data using system devices (tape, CD-ROM or disk drive) can be included in the SOP as a data recovery procedure.
Disaster recovery is the act of recovering IT system operations after a disaster such as a flood, fire, hurricane or tornado has destroyed the IT facility. Disaster recovery SOPs contain procedures for relocating the data processing facility, loading the latest backup tapes for processing and transportation of key personnel to the remote processing facility. This SOP includes forms and checklists of items to be used from an off-site storage facility, insurance and reciprocal agreements and audit of recovery operations.