Computers today are so much easier to set up than 20 years ago. The caveat is that it is so easy to set up a computer; it’s also easy to set up incorrectly. Then all users suffer through intermittent issues or performance problems until someone more experienced is able to unravel it. While technology certification is not required to be good at computers, we embrace it. By learning the right ways to deploy and manage technology, we try to ensure a better technology ownership life cycle. We know a great technology experience starts with great technology choices, but also benefits from great people and processes. A very important process often ignored is the basic tracking and prioritization of computer-related tasks using some sort of trouble ticketing system. Ticketing helps you track outstanding items, create recurring instances of activities you should be regularly doing and prioritize taking care of the most impactful items first. This frees the right resources to handle the next most impactful items on the list next, in the most efficient manner. We can’t let just “keeping the lights on” prevent us from seizing technology automation or enhancement opportunities.
There are some standard rules when working with technology in a business environment. Centralization promotes the network architect utilizing tools that can centrally manage your technology. For example, having a centrally managed antivirus solution helps the network administrator avoid having to waste time manually updating antivirus engines and signatures on individual PCs.Yet over and over again, we find environments where there is a bureaucracy of misspent time that should be invested elsewhere on your network. Likewise, many simple “file backup to the cloud” solutions are low-cost but do you know that if you actually had to fully restore a failed server, it might be 3 to 5 days before you could reinstall and restore all the files? Can your business last that long?
When managing an IT or support organization, you’ll want to implement some sort of written information to help you get to the right places. First on this list is usually writing your IT policies. Policies are usually just guidelines that are the rules and regulations for how your technology should run and people behave. These tend to be big-picture and usually do not provide all the details since they should not change often. In a large organization they could require a dedicated person to manage them full time but most firms probably just need an executive sponsor to understand policy legal implications, to bless the policies and make sure the policies make sense for an industry compliances. You could probably purchase template policies online and just revisit them once every couple of years for minor changes.For the IT team, their processes are going to be slightly more detailed on how various technology related activities should occur, based on the general direction determined by management. If you have a patch management policy saying that you should patch, your process would outline your general approach for accomplishing this. The process might explain the hosts to patch, explain how often to patch, who is responsible to patch and maybe touch on how patching is tested.
More specifically, your patch management procedure would be a checklist of specific steps (with screen captures) that anyone could follow to accomplish deploying patches to your Windows workstations and servers. Together these written documents create a working system that helps make sure there is a vision for what you’re trying to accomplish, you have an idea of the steps for how to accomplish and then your technical resource identifies the actual steps to complete.
The best administrators have a daily, monthly, quarterly and annual schedule for regular maintenance activities. If you manage an IT person, ask to see their checklists and routines or ask them to create some. Many manufacturers have recommendations for recurring maintenance activities to keep your technology healthy over time. Additionally, the technology have the ability to generate event logs that can give us advance warning of potential issues that you can sometimes prevent or explain what happened at a specific date and time (this is why we sometimes ask the date and time of an issue, to correlate an incident to event log information). If you are network administrator, understand that having maintenance routines can help you by giving you the power to prevent emergencies and to troubleshoot more quickly.
Administrators should start by creating a checklist of things they should be doing on a recurring basis. We use the combination of our ticketing system for regular events and our internal checklists to ensure these maintenance activities are completed and documentation updated, so we always remember. The power of the checklist is that it helps ensure consistency in operations. Here’s a small sample of some regular maintenance items to help you get started. Be sure to customize for your own needs, such as choosing your “how often” based on what fits your business better.
Network issues rarely ever come at convenient times. Computers always seem to have issues when reports are due, you have patients in front of you, need to finish a report, or complete other important tasks. Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish by not giving your network the regular maintenance it needs to work correctly.If key systems are down during the business day, you could multiple average salary times the number of employees by length of time down to understand how you could save your company money.
Avg. Salary X Number of Employees X Downtime in Hours =
An easier estimate might be to divide annual company revenue by 2080 for potential lost revenue per hour of downtime. Either way, this helps you compare IT costs versus the benefits of the technologies we use.
What do you do if you have a single IT person and he or she leaves? If you have gone through a sudden IT change you know how painful it can be.
Computers needs regular maintenance and structure to keep working properly. Let routine set you free with these starter checklists.
This sample daily weekly checklist can assist you in making sure general IT maintenance activities are occuring regularly. Fill out the form below to download.