I came across a fairly succinct article about what IT managers can learn from software developers which is a good read if you find yourself in a chaotic environment with no issue tracking, documentation, etc.
There are various practices associated with software development that can be of great benefit to an IT department, but since few IT managers follow what goes on in the software engineering field, and even fewer come from a software engineering background, most managers are unaware of these ideas and technologies. This is unfortunate, as there are so many tools and techniques employed by programmers that could be put to good use in IT.
If you’re looking for a free solution to solve similar issues in software development, I’d personally recommend using Subversion and Trac, or if you have a budget, both JIRA and SourceForge Enterprise are good ways to go (still using Subversion of course) which are still flexible enough to let you get things done. Of course there’s always Bugzilla, but something just doesn’t sit right with me with that Perl beast– perhaps that I think the usability is terrible?
I can easily say I agree with the article based on experience of organically starting to do all of the things listed over the past few years. I know that not everyone is a Wiki fan, but it does actually make documentation sort of fun and if anything, easy to do. Rather than worrying about formalities you end-up with a lot of information which otherwise wouldn’t have made it into any sort of documentation, thereby making the “hit by a bus” factor a much less catastrophic event (except for the bus part of course).