IT service desk workers spend a lot of time dealing with simple requests. Thankfully, there are long-term solutions to most of these, and in many cases those solutions depend on having clear IT policies at your organization and educating end users.
Here are 10 common time-wasters for IT, along with ways to reduce or eliminate them.
1. Account Lockouts
End users who can’t log onto the network can take up a disproportionate amount of help desk time. This can be particularly problematic in companies where passwords must be changed frequently and when passwords are required to contain capital letters, lower case letters, numbers, special characters, a haiku, and an Egyptian hieroglyph. You may be able to cut down on lockouts by doubling the number of allowed attempts to log in, or making passwords valid for longer periods. A self-service portal for resetting passwords is another possible solution.
2. Problems with BYO Devices
BYOD can be a great productivity and morale booster … or it can be disastrous. You need a strong BYOD policy in place before allowing the use of personal devices, and you need to make it clear which devices and problems the help desk will and won’t support. Making exceptions to your BYOD policy only weakens it, so avoid the temptation to help “just this once.”
3. Peripherals That Act Up
Every organization has at least one peripheral device that acts up no matter how many times it’s reset, repaired, or the recipient of “percussive maintenance” with a blunt object. If the time spent dealing with the device costs more than simply replacing it, then replace it. You might also consider an IT policy where a certain number of hardware problems from a particular device automatically warrants replacement.
4. User-Installed Software
User-installed software often ends up being unfair to everyone, including help desk workers. Problems from user-installed software include security problems and viruses, and fixing them can take up hours or days of valuable service desk time. The solution is to have a strong policy forbidding user-installed software, or at least a policy that requires that user-provided software be reviewed and approved first. As with BYOD, exceptions will weaken your policy, so avoid making them.
5. Old, Inefficient Processes Slowing Things Down
Some end-user habits are inefficient and should be revamped. For example, in some offices, people transfer handwritten notes into digital files after meetings in order to share. This process is not only problem-prone, but could be avoided with cloud-connected tablets, laptops, and document management. With so many BYOD workplaces, and so many processes being streamlined with cloud applications, there’s no reason to stick with outdated, time-consuming processes, particularly when they cause unnecessary service tickets.
6. Managing Different Software Versions
One reason cloud applications are so popular is that everyone uses the same software version. If legacy software has different users using different versions, problems can arise. This can only really be solved by ensuring everyone starts using the same software version. If software licenses are coming to an end, it may be worthwhile to look at alternatives, like switching to a cloud app or starting everyone over at the same time with the same software version.
7. Accidental File Deletion
“I accidentally put the Wheeler presentation in the Box of No Return — the Recycle Bin. I went ahead and fired myself.”
How many times have you answered a panicked help desk call from someone who has deleted an important document or presentation? Believe it or not, there are some people who don’t realize you can get stuff out of the Windows Recycle Bin. Automatic cloud backup can help prevent these problems, as can end-user education. Even a small card outlining Dos and Don’ts for when users accidentally delete files can reduce panic and help cut back on these calls.
8. Computers Shutting Themselves Off
Computers are so smart today that we tend to forget that they are machines, and under certain physical conditions they will not work. If one particular building or section has problems with machines overheating, the solution may be cleaning the machines, lowering the thermostat, or providing cooling stands for equipment to rest upon. Again, end-user education is the key. People need to understand that the pig-sty condition of their desk can affect their computer’s operation.
9. Computers Running Slowly Despite Lack of Viruses
While slow computers should be checked for viruses, sometimes computers slow down for other reasons. Many end users don’t know to free up RAM or delete temporary files, and backing up files and settings to restore a computer to factory settings is horribly inefficient. You could hold a class on how to free up RAM and delete temporary files. Or you could let end users know about features like “refresh” on Windows 8 that allows them to back up all personal files and programs and automatically restore them after restoring Windows.
10. Fixing the Same Problem for the Same Person as Last Week (and the Week Before …)
This is a classic example of the “Teach a person to fish” parable. It’s also one of the best reasons to use IT service management software with a self-service portal. With a self-service portal, end users can be walked through various solutions without having to submit a service ticket, ultimately saving everyone time. As your workplace gets used to using a self-service portal, you can expand self-service with a self-building knowledge base that allows end users to solve even more of their own problems.
Your organization’s choice of IT service management software can drastically cut down on time-wasting IT requests. Samanage has great features like remote desktop control, smartphone apps, self-service portal capability, and knowledge base building. It empowers end users to solve many of their own problems, freeing up IT resources for more important tasks.
About Matt Shanklin
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