While a great tech support partner is invaluable, it also helps to help yourself. Here are a few simple initiatives your business can put in place to solve a lot of your basic IT tech support headaches.
By Adam Turner
Create a Standard Operating Environment
Business tech support becomes much less complicated when all your desktop and notebook computers are running the same operating system with the same applications installed on the same hardware. A Standard Operating Environment makes it easier to manage software updates, security patches and drivers, plus it’s simpler to troubleshoot problems when you know everyone’s computer is the same.
Large organisations might create several SOEs to serve the needs of different parts of the business, but do your best to keep things as standardised as possible. Along with simplifying software issues, it also makes it easier to swap out hardware when there’s a fault. The ability to get your staff up and running quickly on a new computer reduces expensive downtime.
Remove Administrator rights
Out of the box many new Windows PCs grant users full Administrator rights, letting them make a wide range of changes to their computer. Downgrading your staff to Standard users as part of the SOE is a sensible precaution. You can also create centrally-managed Group Policies for more granular control over subsets of computers within the business.
These changes don’t prevent staff from doing their job, they just stop them making changes and installing extra software without permission from the IT department – which cuts down on a lot of headaches. Removing Administrator rights can also prevent many malicious applications installing themselves automatically, adding an extra line of defence to your cybersecurity efforts.
Regularly restart computers
“Have you tried turning it off and on again?” has become a cliche for a good reason, as a restart can do a computer the world of good.
Scheduled Tasks make it easy to automatically reboot computers in the early hours of the morning if they’re being left on overnight. Rebooting your PCs regularly ensures that resources are returned to the system resource pool, which can be especially important after an application crashes. Some applications also have “memory leaks” – bugs in the code which means they slowly chew up more and more of the computer’s RAM – starving the system and other applications of memory.
Keep previous versions of files
When you’re on a tight deadline the ability to quickly recover lost emails and documents, or revert to an earlier version, can save the day.
If you’re using a Microsoft Exchange Server and a deleted email has disappeared from Outlook’s Deleted Items folder you can try the Recoverable Items folder. Your systems administrator can control how long items are retained in these folders before they’re truly lost.
As for your documents, many file backup tools offer the option to retain several previous versions of files even if they’ve been deleted from your computer. Granting users access to these archives makes it easy for them to recover their own files without needing to call upon tech support.
Establish an internal Knowledge Base
Think of a Knowledge Base like an in-house Wikipedia where you store answers to all your frequently asked questions, so staff can resolve their own issues without needing to call on tech support for the same old problems.
A Knowledge Base can include user guides for in-house software and systems, giving new employees a solid grounding as well as helping existing staff solve common problems. They might even add to the body of knowledge, making your Knowledge Base a fundamental cog in your continuous improvement efforts.
Your Knowledge Base can also be integrated into the tech support ticketing system, helping identify common issues as well as direct users to solutions. This way your tech team can spend less time putting out fires and more time adding value to the business.