Got Checklists?

Published Feb 02 2009 01:30 PM 1,023 Views

Did you notice the checklists in the blog post "Should You Virtualize Your Exchange 2007 SP1 Environment?" Did you think those were a pretty handy thing to have? Turns out you're on to something.

Recently, the New York Times reported that researchers found surgical teams made fewer mistakes when they used a checklist: "A checklist for surgical teams that includes steps as basic as having the doctors and nurses introduce themselves can significantly lower the number of deaths and complications."

If checklists work so well for one group of professionals (who, let's face it, have a lot on the line when it comes to not making mistakes), maybe they'd work for others. Do you use checklists to help administer your Exchange org? We supplied some checklists in Exchange 2007, like the Planning Checklist and the Operations Checklists. We're working on docs for the next release of Exchange and got to wondering: What checklists would help you with your job?


- Alison Hirsch

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Checklists are great, as long as they don't have to many points that are not important for my case.

IBM for example has checklists for everything - for example, performing a system save on an IBM i is a 60 point checklist. However, in most normal deployments, only 10 or so of these points apply.

This is very confusing - so you create a new checklist with only the points that apply to your case. Annyong.
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Interesting! People who know each others names are more safe to slice you open a move your internal organs.
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I think a Checklist for recovery would be a good idea. Many a time I have seen an Exchange Recovery go so horribly wrong because someone forgot a step or two here and there and screw it up even worse...
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Exchange backup & recovery checklist for Windows Server 2008 :)
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Checklists are great inputs to more detailed plans.  How about

- Migration checklist
- Integration checklist (OCS, MOSS, AD combined planning considerations - how to maximise teh experience)
- Security checklist (how to lock down various roles, how to monitor for ongoing compliance, design a roles-based admin model)
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Hallelujah to Checklists!

Checklists allow you to make sure you're consistent. Personally and across a team.

Checklists make sure you do everything, don't forget anything, and do it all in the right order.

Checklists should contain reference to KB articles that can add enlightenment to certain points in the process.

Checklists allow one person to start a job and someone else to finish it.

Yes, you have to be rigorous how how you use them (you can't check the box until you finish the task), but they dramatically improve efficiency for organizations that use them.
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Gotta have Checklists! ...from RTFM  to Rollback mentality with Exchange, cuz it's my baby!

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Yes, checklists are great, I have checklist for install and migration and I always follow it at every custom site, makes things a lot easier when someone calls back and ask about the setup.
Some good point in this one,
Look under Exchange Server Update Recommendations
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Fellow checklist fans: Thanks for the ideas! Really appreciate it, and keep them coming. And, Lukas, appreciate the caution about usability.
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a checklist for CAS deployments would be good.
(covering autodiscover, reverse proxy, pop3s, imaps, especially certificates)

Also, checklists for CCR/SRC failovers and especially failbacks would be helpful.
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now,we are helping customer to deploy Hosted Exchange,it's so complexity.
i think we need three types of checklists about Exchange,the first is Planning Checklist,the second is Deployment Checklist,the third is Maintan Checklist.
for example,in Deployment Checklist,Does all the domainname are ready?Internet IPs?Disk spaces?and so on.
the checklist is the best pratice,it's very helpful,as you know,if one step of config that we forgot,the troubleshooting is very very difficult
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A checklist for each Exchange Server cluster solution (CCR, SCC, SCR), both local and geo flavors would be good...
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How about checklists that map Exchange necessities to the Microsoft Operations Framework instead of an Ad Hoc approach...  What people have already mentioned fit into Framework Layers and it provides a model of what checklists are needed!  It would make MOF more readily actionable for most Exchange environments.   It would save me time justifying a managed approach to messaging to management!  
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Wizards should be able circumvent the need for most checklists. How bout lots of built-in and "create your own" Wizards!
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The Exchange 2003 Deployment tools provided such a checklist for installation.  I remember Microsoft bragging about how this would reduce installation errors and confusion, and rightfully so. This is hardly new.

The US government has a National Checklist Program for IT Security practices (

Checklists have many benefits for the administrator. They instill confidence in processes, they help identify potential errors or 'blind spots' and provide assurance for management. But there is a stigma with checklists, as though they were for people who do not know what they are doing or "people fear checklists because they see them as dehumanizing. Maybe that's because people associate them with the exhaustive lists that let random teenagers successfully run fast-food chains." [1]

While they are helpful, are they authoritative?  IT is full of 'exceptions'.

[1] Heath, Dan and Chip, September 11, 2008,

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Adding to BB's idea, there should be a feature similar to GP's RSOP's wizard for Exchange production changes (for those poor souls who can't afford a Test Environment - me included)
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Checklists are a great idea. No matter how closely you work with PSS, someone somewhere always forgets that one point which can leave a can of worms open to gather.

I will say, why not make this list while developing that particular component. For ex, you could get the autodiscover engineers or PSS tech leads to write articles for checklist. Same goes for other components. This way, far lesser calls to PSS and sundries while planning and deploying the product.
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Checklist are a really cool addition, when it comes to Microsoft technology, as it makes things much easier for already user friendly technologies.

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