IT support: thankless, invisible, unnoticed job, often realized only when something does not work or something is broken. In the majority of the cases, the IT support takes the blame; if something is not working then it is their fault. Let’s take our previous discussion further and see what IT support people what their users to know about themselves.
As a previous IT support personnel, I would first start with the fact that IT support people are not Supermans, Merlins or mind readers from outer space. Our department’s name includes “support”, so we are there to support you. We are not there to blame you, make fun of you, belittle you, gossip about you, tell what you did to your manager. If you have deleted this very important file, then please let us know what happened: you deleted the file mistakenly. That’s it! That’s all it takes for us to know: a deleted file from a certain network location. We will tell you what we can do and start the task(s) immediately to get you up and running as soon as possible. Yelling at us without telling the truth means that you are losing time. And yes, we will not tell what you did to anyone else. We have a lot of things in the queue waiting to be finished, and a lot of users to be supported.
Similarly, we can only support what the vendors themselves support. If that vendor’s software is running only on Windows hardware or supported only in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome, we cannot support it running on your Mac and/or on Safari. Please, if it is supported on a Windows computer and you need a computer for work either get a Windows computer or learn to virtualization so that you can run Windows on your favorite platform.
Then comes the personal support requests. We are paid for providing enterprise support. We are there to support your work computers. We will do our best to give you an advise on your problem you are having on your home computer. But that does not mean that you can ask us to fix your computer for free (or for a pizza or a lunch or whatever). If we have a side job to fix computers, if you will pay and accept an invoice, we will happily take care of your malfunctioning equipment. If not, sorry, we cannot fix your computer (IT pros: here is a humorous take on why you shouldn’t fix computers for free).
And yes. Please also do not waste our time by asking us how to format the latest Windows that came with your brand new laptop and install Windows XP instead.
In corporate IT, there are policies and they have valid reasons. We are not forcing you to use complex passwords, VPNs and two factor authentications to satisfy our persecution complex. Rather, we are trying to ensure legal compliance for the enterprise if not saving you -the employee- and the company – the employer – from big headaches. Would you want to be the weak link in the chain: where your weak password is exploited to gain access to corporate network and lots of business-critical information is stolen/leaked and legal proceedings are just around the corner? This is not a made-up scenario, we read about these news daily. And what will you do when you see a person circumventing those rules? 99.9% of the time you will turn a blind eye because he/she is your friend and the IT manager will pay the price in the professional arena.
There are also other things to consider. If you ask IT to recover a file that you have deleted, IT needs to ensure data integrity, needs to have backups and needs to use many tools and measures you haven’t heard about. Naturally those tools and measures prevent you from doing whatever you want. We cannot backup your sister’s wedding photos or your precious mp3 collection. We need to make sure that documents, databases, servers are properly backed up and we use our storage space for these.
Following these IT departments talk about stability, consistency and integrity more than you talk about latest mobile phones, tablets and other shiny gear. IT may look antiquated to you, and there are times when we, ourselves, complain about this too. We do not believe that it is better to stick with old technology and save from IT investment. Rather, we want to implement a technology when everything is in place, support, integration and the like. Otherwise you will end up with disparate systems not talking to each other, no support when things are not working. And the blame is not solely on the IT department either. Many users want to stick to how they do things and resist the change – remember leaving Windows XP or the switching to ribbon interface in Office 2007/2010? It is not IT department alone. And please don’t forget: we love technology and we can adapt it faster. We want to stay ahead of the tech curve as you too.
Finally, when you have a support case, we have to start from scratch, from the very basics. The root cause may be so simple so obvious for us therefore we ask the no-brainer questions – i.e., “do you see any light on your monitor?” Plus, this approach, which often is a checklist to ensure uniformity, ensures that no point is ignored or missed during the troubleshooting process. And finally there are cases where the user may really be clueless – I have had a hard time when a user did not know the Start button (and the Windows key on her keyboard) on her Windows 7 computer. We know this uniform process is boring. It is painful for both you, the users and us, the support people. But its benefits far surpass its pains.
Here is my take on the items I wished my users know when I was in IT support. Do you have anything you wish your users knew? Hit the comments below!
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