Organizing The Ever Evolving Tool Library

Last month I wrote about two new collaborations or partnerships. While I bring several things to these collaborations organization and automation are two of the biggest.

Every consultant has a library of often used tools. Over 30 years ago when I first dipped my toe into consulting my entire library fit on a single 5.25 inch floppy. Over time it grew to several 5.25 floppies, and then fewer and 3.5 inch floppies and then expanded again. This process continued as new storage media entered the market and new tools were built or acquired. Today, things are much easier. The tools are stored in multiple places and easily accessible from anywhere through my VPN. 

While gearing up for these new partnerships and in anticipation of adding people in 2019 I realized a little more structure and organization around this library is needed. Currently, I use simple spreadsheets to track the tools, locations and brief descriptions and recommended use. This is fine for now since there will only be two of us sharing any set of tools. But not once we start adding people.

In the current library there are Ansible playbooks and Docker files and general monitoring tools and specific monitoring tools and penetration tools and scanning tools and on and on. The last thing we want is to add people who are maintaining their own libraries instead of using a central library and by extension keeping it up to date.

To this end, I’ve started a sideline project to track and manage these tools. A big advantage of doing this is we can track what tools are used in what situations. This of course helps with billing and analysis but it also helps to refine the best practices to leverage the strengths of the tools in our inventory. It will also help evaluate possible tool replacements or additions.

Because this is a sideline project it is starting very simply. Just replacing the current spreadsheets with a Laravel web application cataloging the existing tools. Then it will be extended as needs are identified.

Eventually, the tracking information will be added and integration with the invoicing system will be fleshed out. If things go as planned we should have most of what is needed about the same time we start adding people next year. 

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