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My company currently has one IT support person who very stressed with the work. The person is only able to do work arounds before having to move to the next item on the list so problems often do not get fully solved. My company has 50 employees and is an engineering company with many departments so there are a lot of demands on IT. We will be getting an additional entry level IT staff member and I would like to be able to recommend some procedures to help alleviate our current issues. I believe upper management will enforce my recommendations

Can anyone recommend formal procedures to help with IT issues? The issues only relate to dealing with internal staff. Typical problems are the network is slow, mail server is frequently down, email is missing, websites are not up, etc.

Updates:

  1. I am interested in templates if anyone has some

  2. Here are some thoughts others have brought up and some ideas I have had as well. Please add more ideas if they are missing from this list. What are some typically policies for dealing with staff, etc?

    a. Have the entry level person deal with the day to day issues. The bigger problems will be solved by our more senior IT staff member. As Brandon mentioned, it should be clear that the entry level fellow should be the point of contact.

    b. Promote test environments and virtual machines. When possible, IT staff should experiment on these places BEFORE following up on IT calls. What happens now is the IT experiments during calls which is time consuming for end users

    c. A formal method to manage/track issues needs to be established. I was thinking excel over web based but many people have brought up some points about that so I will look at other options. Some issues:

    • multi person edits at the same time are not possible in excel- this is not an issue right away but could be at some point
    • excel doesn't handle much text - this seems a bit important and I will look for some desktop solution that has the ease of excel.
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migrated from stackoverflow.com Sep 2 '09 at 20:25

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4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I fully agree with having a junior person take on all the day to day issues.

On the side of issue tracking (there are many free options out there such as Trac and Bugzilla), I find it really helpful to provide a website for people to submit tickets rather than email. This allows you to provide information/process rules for them to read before sending in a request.

Such as:

  1. Requiring all new requests to be submitted through a web app. Do not IM, Call, or stop by in person without first posting a request.

  2. Get the point across that there is a queue of requests and only in emergencies should they try contacting you immediately after submitting something.

  3. With a web interface you'll hopefully have a way to give them a direct link to view all their tickets as well as see all other tickets in the queue. This brings them to the realization that they're not the only one asking for something.

  4. Include a link to an internal Wiki/Knowledge Base maintained by the IT staff to allow others to troubleshoot typical issues.

  5. Instruct them on the ideal information you'd like to receive. What error are they seeing? What steps did they take to get there? What have they tried? What are they asking you to do? "The website is down" or "email is not working" are really vague. Get them to answer the 2-3 questions you seem to find yourself asking every time an issue is brought to your attention.

  6. Provide templates for common requests. You might even have different templates based on issue (bug, inquiry, feature). Or task specific such as having an access request form you need them to fill out and include or for a manual DB insert they need to format it in a specific way that saves you time.

  7. What are the next steps after they've submitted a ticket? What kind of response can they expect? When? When should they follow up?

  8. Always include case id when following up with an existing request.

This is all good and well as long as you can keep up with your end and provide a pleasant experience for those you are serving. Keep focused and review the queue regularly. Only skip ahead if you spot something that might be fire or preventing a user from doing their job.

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This is interesting. We have tried something like this but it was not supported by management and people bypassed the system and bugged IT directly. I may bring it up again as it is a good idea but hard to get support for in a smaller company. –  user19189 Sep 4 '09 at 15:10

If you don't have one already, get him some type of issue tracking system so he can assign priorities to certain things and keep track of what he is doing.

And when you get your entry level IT guy, have him be the point of contact. Basically it means that if anyone ever has any issue, it should go to him, and he'll either deal with it himself if its minor or he can elevate it to your employee. The point is to try to keep your main IT guy free to do what he needs to do without being hassled by the other employees.

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Do that, and migrate to google apps for mail :) –  user10711 Sep 2 '09 at 21:13

I wrote the original question, and I just wanted to follow up a bit

This is what I'm thinking so far:

a) Have the entry level person deal with the day to day issues. The bigger problems will be solved by our more senior IT staff member

b) Promote test environments and virtual machines. When possible, IT staff should experiment on these places BEFORE following up on IT calls. What happens now is the IT experiments during calls which is time consuming for end users

c) A formal method to manage/track issues needs to be established. I recommend excel over webbased since we already had web based and it is more than we need (ie, slow to use - excel is speedy and good to use until a better solution is required)

I would really appreciate any templates or ideas about documents that could be used to help formalize the process as well. Right now, our IT support staff member is considered by the company to be unapproachable and I would like to see other employees start to blame the process for handling support rather than the individual. That way, we could improve upon the process and create an environment where success is possible

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Brandon, I am in agreement with your ideas. Keep em coming everyone :) I assume these processes are already formally established in big companies –  user19189 Sep 2 '09 at 20:38
    
You should edit your qst to include these updates. –  Mark Henderson Sep 2 '09 at 20:39
    
Find a web based tool -- you can find them as streamlined or as complicated as you want. Why? Two people can't look at an Excel spreadsheet together. A web tool will let you keep your history without being overwhelmed by it and be able to group people's requests together. –  David Mackintosh Sep 2 '09 at 20:58
1  
I don't think excel really is a good tool for tracking issues. Excel really isn't designed to handle lots of text, and ideally your issue tracker will include all the notes about a particular issue. –  Zoredache Sep 2 '09 at 21:02
    
I can't edit the question. I actually asked it on stack overflow but someone moved it here and it will not let me edit it anymore. As for excel vs other program, here is my reasoning but I am open to other ideas. a) issues will only be entered by the IT person b) our company will not invest in other support software unless it is completely amazing c) the webbased issue trackers we have (gemini & perldesk) are good for companies with medium sized IT departments, but when it is only 1 or 2 people, it is a lot of unnecessary effort to ensure multiple users when they already know who is using it –  user19189 Sep 2 '09 at 22:46

Identify the top 2 things that are causing problems for the users and set aside time to address those properly. A HUGE amount of support overhead will drop off right away.

You can try to address certain problems from outside of the purely technical box. If for example there are a lot of complaints about the network being slow, then get the people complaining talking to the people holding the purse strings.

Prioritise properly. Classify problems according to when and if they need to be fixed in terms of how business-critical the service they are related to is.

Address problems at source. If the mailserver is down often, maybe it's time to get a new one? Explaining to the boss that a time's gonna come when it collapses 30 seconds before he/she needs to send an important email to close a contract can be a good incentive to let the moths out of the wallet.

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