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Giving Support to Make Support

Level 9

I don’t deny that great remote support tools are needed.  It my IT career the best I’ve been able to muster most times is  RDP and the joy of combing thru the event logs for server support. On the desktop side of the house I’ve usually had the pleasure of some outdated MS product to work with because it was “free”. This is really sad since I’ve worked in healthcare and in oil & gas with healthy budgets. I am not sure why or how it became acceptable to have MacGyver based support tools or procedures when we would have just spent a healthy part of the budget on a product we now have to support.  I guess most times it has to do with new projects are sexy and exciting and support is not and relegated to the background. How does one go about changing the paradigm?

I think the first step is to figure out how much time your spending on support. Chances are it’s a lot more than you think. Studies find 70% - 80% of time in IT is spent keeping the lights on instead of moving the needle.  Even if you speed up support calls by 5% it could represent a fairly could chunk of money. 

BYOD is another chance to reinvent the support equation. Most support products are built for the land behind the corporate firewall. Having both support and the end user connect to a VPN is problematic. Having a support tool that can integrate to the business applications, traditional or SAS and connect directly to the user would be huge.

Some other things that would be core to helping out support would be:

  1. 1) Event and logging\correlation tools to present current service levels to a web page to prevent multiple phone calls from hitting the helpdesk
  2. 2) If the end user was submitting a ticket online, a downloadable tool would automatically do a self-diagnostics and submit results in the ticket. A part of this would be a network assessment.
  3. 3) Making departments fight for the after hour Service Level agreements
  4. 4) Location based printing so if the first printer is down it will redirect to the next closet.
  5. 5) Arm support with the same tools that the clients have. Seems basic but I’ve seen where the executes get MACs and the support team is on windows. Just makes life a little harder.

Is support the ugly duckling in your organization?  If you could help support what you do first? What tool would you buy to help the cause?

16 Comments
Level 17

MacGyver type tools can be very useful. It's the MacGruber's that are always getting in the way.

  1. 1) Event and logging\correlation tools to present current service levels to a web page to prevent multiple phone calls from hitting the helpdesk - This is present, but they still call anyways. Sometimes after reading the bulletin, just to make sure it was still active. (And the bulletin auto updates)
  2. 2) If the end user was submitting a ticket online, a downloadable tool would automatically do a self-diagnostics and submit results in the ticket. A part of this would be a network assessment. - yeah, that would be nice. There is a tool for Network info, but no magic button to put that info in the ticket.
  3. 3) Making departments fight for the after hour Service Level agreements  - Other Departments have these? I thought we were the only ones forced to agree to provide service at a certain level. Whether or not they respond is normally the determining factor on whether our SLA is met or not.
  4. 4) Location based printing so if the first printer is down it will redirect to the next closet. - TA should have done that by now; just like.....
  5. 5) Arm support with the same tools that the clients have. Seems basic but I’ve seen where the executes get MACs and the support team is on windows. Just makes life a little harder. - Support wears long sleeves. They have tools, and tricks.
Level 9

2) Network info - had that running on physical desktops but that fell apart when we switched to virtual desktops and still had some people using soft clients.

3) - <chuckle> Yeah, life & death situation but can you call me back after lunch or my coffee break. Then they complain about not being able to work. Those where my favorite ones.

MVP
MVP
  1. Event and logging\correlation tools to present current service levels to a web page to prevent multiple phone calls from hitting the helpdesk.
    works great in theory...but with national and international distribution of branches not always practical.  Now event de-duplication and correlation on the back end...great ,it needs to be there.
  2. If the end user was submitting a ticket online, a downloadable tool would automatically do a self-diagnostics and submit results in the ticket. A part of this would be a network assessment.
    for device related issues submitted by the enduser this may work.  If they are using a different computer or kiosk to enter the ticket than their own (due to hard-drive failure) then the diagnostics are useless.
  3. Making departments fight for the after hour Service Level agreements.
    SLA....that is a 4 letter word here....that may change though.
  4. Location based printing so if the first printer is down it will redirect to the next closet.
    Not always a good thing in a financial institution....next closest may be in a another department that has no need to see specific details.
  5. Arm support with the same tools that the clients have. Seems basic but I’ve seen where the executes get MACs and the support team is on windows. Just makes life a little harder.
    Hmmm....perks have their drawbacks as well.  I agree having a consistant platform across the enterprise makes support easier...but it is not always practical.
Level 9

printing - location shouldn't matter unless it's in a public area. Should get fired in my opinion if your talking about private information, I guess you need a the proper policy's in place.

From what I have posted and both set of comments, you really needs top talent on support which doesn't seem to the case in a lot of places. I would work for a vendor know and I know we have CCNE's talking first call. Support shouldn't be just a starting place for a career but pay has to much too.

Level 12

Remote support has been greatly reduced at our company through the use of locked down thin clients.  Great for managing the infrastructure, not so great for the end user.  We're starting to see pushback and so some of the end users are getting PCs.  Honestly, malware is the greatest time sink in a full PC environment.  We have added SecureWorks in anticipation of increased malware activity.  Often we know about the infection before the end user does.

Level 9

What do you use to manage your thin clients? Are they windows based?

Level 12

We're currently using 10Zigs and experimenting with different levels of lockdown.  The 10Zigs have their own management software.  We have both XP and Win7 embedded models.

Level 12

Support was the ugly duckling here but not based on a higher management decision, more because the previous IT manager was kind of doing it wrong. Lots of unneeded complexity due to him not wanting to buy/hire the needed resources. You can sometimes do with less, but you usually can't do with nothing. When I arrived here (3 years ago) the state of things was this : No remote control software, no log management, no standardized hardware, Home Edition OSes, every server a different make/model and server OS all different... not even a naming convention for computers and servers ! And the worse ? No help desk/support ticket system.

When you ask nothing, management don't even have the chance to say "no"...

Level 10

Ensure an hour a week is allocated for training and then get certified.

Force software upgrades - when Windows 8 comes out every one upgrades Day 1 and learns how to fix problems that pop-up.  No more "I like XP or Windows 7"  the customer is upgrading and everyone needs to know how to fix the new stuff.

Install all Windows Updates or implement a proper way of testing each update without some geek denying updates because he feels like it. 

Do it the Microsoft way - they spend billions of $ on providing clear successful ways of doing things that support and software developers ignore.

Level 13

Something I'm hoping to implement here is configuring useful IP SLA operations at my various facilities and placing the results on a display for our helpdesk.  The hope is that we can use this to stop some of the typical tickets like "everything is down here" or "application X is running slow" or "the Internet is down".

The biggest hurdle I'm having is keeping an IOS version on my switches that can perform SLA (or RTR or whatever) for the services I'm interested in.  I've had a few instances where RTR (SLA's previous incarnation) was configured, upgraded firmware, found out afterward that RTR was removed from the feature set, and SLA requires a supervisor hardware upgrade.

Level 17

I can not stop laughing...

Level 9

At least with sever.toby approach shock and aww might delay calls. Is it windows, is it a mac, no its Windows 8….. Funny cause it's true. I can actually remember telling staff to take time to train, that never happened.

Level 21

Chances are it’s a lot more than you think. Studies find 70% - 80% of time in IT is spent keeping the lights on instead of moving the needle.

It's funny you say this; our company just started having us Operations folks track our hours so they could to a KLO (Keep the Lights On) analysis to see how much of our time performing those tasks.  The numbers were very eye opening for most of our management staff.

It's important for companies to realize that tools are much cheaper than more employees.  Employees are normally the most expensive resource so you want to be able to leverage them and give them the tools they need to be as efficient as possible.

If the end user was submitting a ticket online, a downloadable tool would automatically do a self-diagnostics and submit results in the ticket. A part of this would be a network assessment.

That's actually a really awesome idea!  The closest thing we have to this right now is having our monitoring system pass information about the systems into the tickets they open when alerts are generated.

MVP
MVP

most of our support/alerts are for our servers.

But we also support our desktop support guys and use the same service desk product.

We are getting closer to remote support outside the firewall with our current desktop management product as well.

Biggest thing we need to help our admins is decent remote access to Orion through a native app - by that I do not mean Mobile Admin, that is way more product then we need.

We need access to Orion to receive alerts, check the alert is real, acknowledge the alert to stop others looking at it - sounds like an enhancement request

Level 11

Support is the ugly duckling the ones they keep locked in the basement, like in the IT crowd. Companies rarely plow money into Support as they would into development and I have been in many different industries, from small companies to large companies, ones with a shoe-string budget to others with almost limitless (or it seems). Support however is the last point that is sorted out and mainly overlooked, even though this is where all the issues are fixed.

The best ideas for support would be a portal where users could see real-time problems that may be occurring in the company to pre-warn the users, so you do not get countless phone calls all for the same thing. This needs to be automated so that it doesn't rely on someone updating the page as inevertably it will get forgotten and will not be up-to-date. It would also need to be in a format that the general user can understand, is the service up or down usually is a good start as any more technical then you would lose half of them straight away.

The idea of a small program or add-in to run automated diagnostics is useful and the likes of HP do these on their machines, the only drawback is that some people would be scared of something installing on their machine or they may not have the rights to install it.

With regards to printers we use Secure printing that can be printed from any of the printers in the company, you only have to log into that particular printer.

The issues of support not having the right equipment at hand is always a bugbare and will never be solved all the time there are managers who think they know better and want something that no one else has

Level 15

Thanks for the information.