Thursday, July 9, 2009

How to Help your IT Department Help You

Ever wanted to tear your hair out because you can't get help from IT? Well, take that feeling, times it by ten, and you probably are getting close to how your IT department are feeling on a good day. So I'm going to give you some good clear advice.

  1. IT departments, regardless of the level, are always understaffed. Sometimes they can be management heavy, but they are ALWAYS low on the good old worker bees. Often those worker bees aren't paid anywhere near as much as they are worth. But they stay there because they are passionate about it.
  2. Remember, you are not the only one having problems with technology. Even if your issue is a specific one, there are at least a dozen other "specific ones" out there. Plus things that are issues across the whole organisation/company. Don't pester your IT staff, and give them a reasonable amount of time to solve your problem. They're good, but they're not magic.
  3. If you think you know the answer better than your IT staff, why the hell are you ringing them?
  4. Prioritise. Is it on fire? Is it going to shut down your operations completely so that you can't work at all? If the answer is no to any of these, don't panic. Calling IT in a state of panic is only going to cause more stress for everyone. Before you pick up that phone, take a deep breath, remember that the world isn't going to end and you're not going to die, and then think about what you're asking. The statement "It's bloody broken and won't work." is of no use to anyone.
  5. Get information. IT is a vast world of information. Help your IT tech by getting as much information for them before you call. Does it have a barcode or serial number? What is the error message? How long has it been a problem? This information helps your IT tech find the proverbial needle in the haystack.
  6. Have you checked that it is plugged in? All the cables? Are lights working on it to prove that it is getting electricity? I can't tell you the times I've hauled arse out to a site to look at something, or paid for a very expensive tech to do so, only to find that a plug/cable has come loose. It's embarrassing, but you're the one that should be embarrassed that you didn't check, not the technician!
  7. Is there someone there on site that has a bit more knack with technology than you do? Ask them to help. They often have an advantage over a tech that they can see and touch the machine that is the problem, sometimes that advantage can solve an issue quicker than a tech can trying to diagnose blind over the phone. And then, ask them to show you what they did to fix it, so you remember next time.
  8. LEARN. Don't just fob a problem off to your IT technician and forget about it. If possible (and it's not always possible), ask them so you know next time how to solve an issue.
  9. Remember that most IT techs are multi-taskers. As well as working on your issue, they probably have half a dozen balls in the air that they are juggling. Give them space to focus on what they need to.
  10. You want your problem solved? So does your IT tech. Because it's one less that they have to worry about once it's solved. Don't get into the mindset that they aren't doing their best to get it solved because it's not their problem, if it's your problem it's theirs.
  11. In most cases, as well as fixing problems with existing technology, a lot of IT techs also have to research, develop, test, implement and maintain new technologies long before you ever get to see them. Sometimes, you will have no idea just how much work your IT staff are doing on top of fixing the issues that you raise with them.
  12. Don't be rude to your IT tech. Not only does it not achieve anything, but your IT tech probably knows at least a dozen ways to really mess with your technology if you piss them off.
  13. And finally, I am yet to met an IT tech who isn't made very happy by either chocolate or coffee (or both). It's amazing how much service you can get out of a Caramello Koala.


Michael said...

Chocolate... I've never seen that in a list before. But oh so relevant! :D

Loquacity said...

I'll second that emotion!


Anonymous said...

I love this list. I haven't worked in IT tech support, but I have worked with people who were. I must say, unspecific and "it's broken! fix it" are hated with a vengeance.

Nice list!

Kyle said...

So hold on, wheres my chocolate?

(Great post, Now you just need the world to read it.)

Mark said...

Love your work Kath. Come and get yerself a job on the other side of the fence!

Sleepydumpling said...

Offer me a job then Mark!