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I am an IT Administrator. I would like to create and distribute simple troubleshooting guides for my end-users. Does anyone know if these can be purchased anywhere? Has anyone tried a similar project and have any advice?

For instance a sample entry would read:

Can't connect to the internet

1) Check physical connection to internet (cable attached to your computer)

2) check wireless connection

3) ping dns server

4) if Ping fails call Tech Support

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Good luck with that... :-/ –  Bart Silverstrim Jan 10 '11 at 16:39
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I'm not trying to rain on your parade, but this smacks of an exercise in futility. The users won't read the guides, won't understand them if they do read them, and will call you anyway to ask you to explain the instructions in the guides. Guide: Check your network cable. User: What's a network cable? –  joeqwerty Jan 10 '11 at 16:50
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I concur with the comments to the effect that while well intentioned this is just an exercise in futility. Maybe turn the map around, and write a troubleshooting guide from the IT point-of-view instead? I have a few default questions I ask every time my phone rings, some of which are not immediately obvious to even a technically trained person as they are dependent on the specifics of our infrastructure. Maybe something like that, along with escalation criteria might be more useful. –  kce Jan 10 '11 at 17:28
    
@KCE - i just wrote that up as an answer. Write IT documentation for dummies, and hire dummies. Er, entry-level staff. –  mfinni Jan 10 '11 at 17:32
    
This question is off-topic under current topicality rules. –  HopelessN00b Jan 22 at 7:20

4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

In my experience, most users will not read directions like this, no matter how simple. If they see it as your job to make the technology beepy blinky things work, they're going to call you. They don't care what you'd like them to do because it's your job to "make it go."

The most we expect users to do is either restart the computer or check that cables are "plugged in tight" before calling. That's usually the extent they'll go before getting frustrated.

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To echo what people are saying here, this isn't likely to work, and isn't even really a good use of the users' time. Remember - they're working for your company to make money for the company. If they can't work, why should IT be wasting their time making them jump through hoops?

A better use of your company's time and money would be to make these guides anyway, and hire entry-level IT staff to walk the users through these steps when they get called. They're often known as "call scripts" in some industries, because the technician doesn't need to be well-trained (if he was, his time would be better spent doing more advanced things) - he just reads the flowchart/outline/choose-your-own-adventure to narrow the problem down, and either resolve or escalate.

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It maybe more productive to arrange training for your users, either 1-1 or 1-10 or so, where you could teach them things like this. I doubt any end user would otherwise find the time to read these kind of guides. You have to make the user have some benefit from learning this information- as otherwise, they will be questioning the point of it.

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Again, just my experience...unless the training is something they use every day or every other day, it is quickly forgotten. It has to be relevant to their workflow or it's gone. That's assuming they're listening to you in the first place. –  Bart Silverstrim Jan 10 '11 at 16:56
    
We've had to deal with training in specialized software and our users retained precisely enough for what they were directly using. Any function they didn't use all the time was still an immediate cry for help, even if they had the instructions in the giant manual and went over it in the training class. –  Bart Silverstrim Jan 10 '11 at 16:57
    
Fair comment Bart :) We tend to use Wiki's here for quick "how-to's", but being a tech company, it means most users are pretty technical –  AliGibbs Jan 10 '11 at 17:12
    
Even that can be deceptive. I've known lots of programmers that prove the adage, "Beware programmers carrying screwdrivers..." –  Bart Silverstrim Jan 10 '11 at 17:26

I'll echo what the others have said. I've tried to make tutorials and little video clips on how to do something or make something work but ultimately you are wasting your time. There might be the odd few members of staff who appriciate the work but there's the potential to have to create so many tutorials it's not just worth it. In the end it's just a whole lot easier for them to pick up the phone and give me a call.

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