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Old December 28th, 2011, 07:21 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Question for IT professionals

I currently work at a manufacturing site where many of the employees are of "advanced age" and seem to really be set in their ways. Probably the hardest part of my job (other than the unrealistic expectations of the technically challenged) has to do with employees that don't know how to use software or use it incorrectly.

As IT professionals, how much training are you ok with providing employees throughout the course of a day? For example, there is an admin that's been with the company for a long time and is always asking me how to do things in MS Office, how to remote in from home, and other basic functions that I feel she should already know as a qualification for her position. Where do you draw the line?

For the record, I'm the "IT" guy not just when it comes to IT, but I'm it, I'm the guy that chases down network issues, password resets, hardware failures, telephone failures etc. As much as I don't mind helping people with minor software questions (is a relief after troubleshooting a printer for 3-4 hours) I feel that sometimes my time is being monopolized by people that should already know how to do what their job.

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Old December 28th, 2011, 09:16 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Learn to say NO!!

Produce online help guides and simple tutorials, so when you say no you can redirect the question.
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Old December 28th, 2011, 12:37 PM   #3 (permalink)
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The problem with saying no is that the people who you say no to will likely complain to their bosses (and to your boss). Nothing travels faster than bad news...

In my opinion, right now jobs aren't quite as easy to find. What jobs are out there don't typically pay well and there are lots of unemployed people willing to do what it takes to get the regular pay check. While I don't believe that you should bend over backwards to try to make everyone happy, I think you still need to choose your battles. If someone has a simple question, try to help them as best as you can. If they've got a complex question try to point towards a suitable training resource. And if questions are coming in non-stop, document the questions, their frequency, and the people asking them, and forward this information to your boss or training department. If there's a serious training deficiency then it's prudent to let others know so they can address it...
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Old December 28th, 2011, 01:00 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martimus View Post
If there's a serious training deficiency then it's prudent to let others know so they can address it...
This.

I deal with people like that all the time. They get two chances to learn. If I have to show them a third time, I inform their supervisor, boss or the CEO (depending how high up the person is on the ladder) that "Bob is struggling with basic computer skills" or "Mary is behind on her efficiency because of lack of training" and I suggest that they be sent to authorized training.

If there is resistance from the higher ups, and they suggest I train them individually, my response is "sure, I could do that, but it will take a big chunk out of my day and I'll need to bring in a consultant to get my normal IT duties accomplished." As soon as I drop the consultant bomb (anywhere from $200/hr and up) they acquiesce to the classes.

Now, if the users are just being stubborn or lazy and they despise hours of dry training sessions, they usually learn very quickly how to do their jobs. If they are truly clueless, then the training will do them a world of good.
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Old December 28th, 2011, 04:53 PM   #5 (permalink)
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What is your official job hat? If your job is the IT guy, then part of the job is dealing with idiots who ask the same questions twenty bajillion times before lunch. I recently spent 20 minutes explaining to someone who had encrypted their hard drive why we couldn't backup the hard drive after the computer died.

Me: The hard drive is encrypted so that if you take it out of the computer you can't get data.

Him: Just copy the hard drive and get the files that way.

Me: That won't work. You encrypted it.

Him: I don't understand why you can't copy the files off it. I encrypted it so other people can't get the files, not us.

Me: Right. It's encrypted. The 256-bit encryption is doing it's job here. It's keeping us out of files.

Him: Can't you just crack it?

Me: If I could crack it, anyone could crack it and it would be worthless encryption.

Him: Yes, but you're a computer tech. You should be able to copy it and get the files.

Me: **Looks for arsenic I can drink**

Now, if you're not the official guy, I would point out, diplomatically of course, that you have showed them this in the past and have failed to explain it adequately. This is no doubt because you're not qualified to explain IT stuff. They should consider hiring a professional IT person or an IT consultant.
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Old December 28th, 2011, 08:39 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks for the replies. My official title is IT Consultant but I'm "afforded" wearing the "training", "purchasing", "shipping", and sometimes "facilities" hat.

Some of the things I've had to deal with:
  1. End user trying to remote from work.....She was on the laptop that she was trying to remote into...
  2. Manager upset that they were getting outdated equipment. When I logged into the machine in question I found 8 users with Admin accounts and several non-work related downloads (Simpson character icons in the Windows system files was a bit alarming)...
  3. Previous IT guy setting up admins with access to managers' entire inbox in an attempt to share out the managers' calendar....
  4. Admin set up with access to 10 other peoples' email not wanting to use the "Share Calendar" feature in Outlook but wanting access to everyone's calendar...
  5. Admin ordering a clam-shell style basic phone for an employee for $99 and insisting I set up the user with an Exchange account for emails...
  6. Admin not knowing how to use Adobe for certain functions and insisting I train her...
  7. End user not knowing how to remove someone from their junk email filter..
  8. Engineering Hardware/Software that's no longer used and incomplete (missing licenses, missing hardware etc) but the expectation that I should be able to make it somehow work. Good example is a USB to Serial cable that no one knows if it has ever worked but is needed by someone for their production.
  9. My favorite....conference projector colors are not as bright and vivid as they are on the computer monitor and they NEED TO BE. I think if I had the power to manipulate the laws of physics on a $300 5 year old projector I'd probably be working elsewhere...

But I digress. I guess if it was easy day in and day out I'd complain that it was boring.

I just wanted to see what everyone's take was on training people that should already know how to use the software required to do their job and if I would be out of line to suggest training via an actual training department. Considering what I typically go through (above), I didn't know if I would be out of line to redirect training issues elsewhere.


A.non, is it possible to contact the creators of the encryption software to see if they have a way to extract data? I found this online Recover encrypted files on NTFS drive. Advanced EFS Data Recovery Software. NTFS Recovery. . I'm guessing this user's information isn't worth the resources/money spent trying to recover their lost data? I can definitely empathize. I have a couple of users that hound me because Vista incorrectly reports space on network drives and one that is having issues with Windows search not populating complete search listings (the guy knows exactly where to find the file but doesn't want to navigate to the location).

Who knows, maybe I'll run away and join the circus....
 
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Old December 28th, 2011, 09:22 PM   #7 (permalink)
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As far as software training goes, I've always held true an axiom I learned back in my IT Human Design and Interaction class:

"Most computer and software manuals are written at an 8th grade level for easier understanding" Translation: KISS.

I can't count the number of times I've written a manual, guide, FAQ, etc. - I keep three things in mind when doing so.
  1. I try to include as many pictures as possible, with graphics indicating buttons to be pressed, landmarks to look for, etc. - b/c too many people cannot read worth a crap, but can easily follow a picture (or 20).
  2. I try to account for many common mistakes, with warnings, colored text, etc. admonishing the reader to pay attention lest the process go awry.
  3. I always, always, ALWAYS keep the language as simplistic as possible.

Here's a good example of my work: http://androidforums.com/bionic-all-things-root/413871-motorola-droid-bionic-all-things-root-guide-updated-11-1-11-a.html#manual (click show)

IIRC tehsusenoh and I wrote that together, but the bulk of it, especially the pics, is mine. It still draws its share of questions, but far fewer because people can easily compare the pic to their screen and see if they are doing it right or not.
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Old December 28th, 2011, 09:46 PM   #8 (permalink)
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The types of issues you describe unfortunately aren't uncommon. In my last job (a director level position), I was frequently finding myself in meetings having to explain to others that "some of their requirements cannot be handled in a cost effective manner". In a world of finite budgets, most I.T. departments simply don't have the manpower or resources to do everything for everyone. Saying no, in and of itself, tends to be problematic which is why having defined standards (approved by Senior Management) are essential. Without standards in place you find yourself living inside an untenable moving target.

One of my team's many responsibilities was to create and maintain standards regarding our installed base of products and services. If things fell outside of that standard we'd require others to justify their need and to provide funding approval from Senior Management. That way other senior managers would share in the financial burden of implementing one-off solutions.
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Old December 29th, 2011, 06:16 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I never say no. I'm a big believer in the "give a man a fish and he can feed his family for a day, give the man a means to fish and he can feed his family for a lifetime"

Now although people should be able to do basic office functions, training should be arranged by the department and its not my job to train.... if someone asks, I'll help. I will often do this remotely and explain what I am doing whilst they are watching. I will sometimes back it up with an e-mail for reference or explaining why something happens.

I.have found this to be quite effective.

It's also worth noting that although it may not specifically be your responsibility, IT is a non income generating, expensive service to support the business (whether out sourced or not). The it role is to.ensure business functions operate as efficiently as possible and sometimes refusing to do something can have a negative effect on the business
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Old December 29th, 2011, 04:36 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Lately I'm finding more of my headaches are dealing with bosses asking for things that are unreasonable and co-workers either being lazy and making me cover for them or doing ridiculously stupid, half-assed work that I have to fix later on.
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Old December 29th, 2011, 07:01 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Such is life. The lazy ones will get found out eventually, though.

As for the bosses - well, until *they're* bosses figure out what is happening, not much you can do about it....
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Old December 29th, 2011, 08:43 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TxGoat View Post
Thanks for the replies. My official title is IT Consultant but I'm "afforded" wearing the "training", "purchasing", "shipping", and sometimes "facilities" hat.

Some of the things I've had to deal with:
  1. End user trying to remote from work.....She was on the laptop that she was trying to remote into...
  2. Manager upset that they were getting outdated equipment. When I logged into the machine in question I found 8 users with Admin accounts and several non-work related downloads (Simpson character icons in the Windows system files was a bit alarming)...
  3. Previous IT guy setting up admins with access to managers' entire inbox in an attempt to share out the managers' calendar....
  4. Admin set up with access to 10 other peoples' email not wanting to use the "Share Calendar" feature in Outlook but wanting access to everyone's calendar...
  5. Admin ordering a clam-shell style basic phone for an employee for $99 and insisting I set up the user with an Exchange account for emails...
  6. Admin not knowing how to use Adobe for certain functions and insisting I train her...
  7. End user not knowing how to remove someone from their junk email filter..
  8. Engineering Hardware/Software that's no longer used and incomplete (missing licenses, missing hardware etc) but the expectation that I should be able to make it somehow work. Good example is a USB to Serial cable that no one knows if it has ever worked but is needed by someone for their production.
  9. My favorite....conference projector colors are not as bright and vivid as they are on the computer monitor and they NEED TO BE. I think if I had the power to manipulate the laws of physics on a $300 5 year old projector I'd probably be working elsewhere...

But I digress. I guess if it was easy day in and day out I'd complain that it was boring.

I just wanted to see what everyone's take was on training people that should already know how to use the software required to do their job and if I would be out of line to suggest training via an actual training department. Considering what I typically go through (above), I didn't know if I would be out of line to redirect training issues elsewhere.


A.non, is it possible to contact the creators of the encryption software to see if they have a way to extract data? I found this online Recover encrypted files on NTFS drive. Advanced EFS Data Recovery Software. NTFS Recovery. . I'm guessing this user's information isn't worth the resources/money spent trying to recover their lost data? I can definitely empathize. I have a couple of users that hound me because Vista incorrectly reports space on network drives and one that is having issues with Windows search not populating complete search listings (the guy knows exactly where to find the file but doesn't want to navigate to the location).

Who knows, maybe I'll run away and join the circus....
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Old December 29th, 2011, 09:30 PM   #13 (permalink)
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^^ lol, that's about what it feels like sometimes.


I guess you don't realize how bad some people are when it comes to technology until you have to address their concerns day in and day out. Maybe I should start playing the lottery......
 
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Old December 29th, 2011, 09:49 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Try being a call center employee - particularly one that does tech support. You'll have a whole new respect for those ppl next time you need to call someone...well, the intelligent ones, anyway lol.
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Old December 29th, 2011, 11:28 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Try being a call center employee - particularly one that does tech support. You'll have a whole new respect for those ppl next time you need to call someone...well, the intelligent ones, anyway lol.


I did that for a few years with various companies and thus I never go off on someone that's trying to help me. I did 1 year of Apple level 2 support, AT&T Uverse, and other various places. The worst had to be AT&T. People get very abusive when they don't get to watch Judge Judy on TV. The problem with dealing with the same people day in and day out is that you have to deal with the same personalities over and over again. The Prima Donnas can be quite annoying and act as if you're their personal servant sometimes.
 
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Old December 30th, 2011, 12:09 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Tell me about it. I did the same Tier I and II for IBM Global Services, Radiant Systems, and a few others, including a well known ISP.

I wore out the mute button on 3 phones!
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Old December 31st, 2011, 07:50 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I tend to save it up for after a call to be honest. Although the cisco 7942 I was using with a headset once didn't hang up quite as quickly as it needed to, if you get my drift
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Old December 31st, 2011, 09:20 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Used to work in a call center. One time I thought I was muted and I wasn't. Lady called back and wanted to talk to my supervisor. The guy she got pretended he was my supervisor and said that he would "deal with me". She was happy.
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Old December 31st, 2011, 11:36 AM   #19 (permalink)
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hahah awesome.
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Old December 31st, 2011, 11:39 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
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I tend to save it up for after a call to be honest. Although the cisco 7942 I was using with a headset once didn't hang up quite as quickly as it needed to, if you get my drift
It was likely the fault of the monochrome display!
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Old December 31st, 2011, 11:53 AM   #21 (permalink)
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I learned early on to have a phone with an indicator light for when it was muted and when it was not
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Old December 31st, 2011, 05:47 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Its a good lesson you only need teaching once
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Old January 6th, 2012, 04:11 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Sometimes it's funny how things work out. My recommendation for our new email migration was kind of shot down about a month ago (Same demanding administrative assistant that expects a projector's image to look EXACTLY like a monitor's display) and thus my manager decided to go 3rd party with individual settings in regards to our new Email migration. Long story short, they decided to go a different route than my recommendation because a few people COUGHAdminAssistantFromHellCOUGH wanted it to be a "seamless process" where they didn't have to do anything. Turns out the solution that the 3rd party offered is already receiving complaints from other users.


To give you a better idea (if I haven't already posted), the genius that set up our email server initially thought it would be a good idea to set up conference rooms as an individual email. This allows everyone with access to that user email (the conference room email address) to block off times for that room. Since we migrated to a new email server off site, the rooms have been set up as actual assets. The only problem with that is no one set anyone up as an admin for those assets.

My solution was to set up the admin from hell with admin rights and have her manage scheduling for that room. It's pretty common for the Administrative Assistant to manage scheduling, I mean that IS what administrative assistants DO. For whatever reason this admin refuses to take ownership and wants EVERYONE set up as an admin for that room. Thus, the 3rd party working with her is adding EVERYONE on site as an admin to each conference room. Thus, now instead of 1 inbox in each person's Outlook, people now have 6-7 inboxes (1 their own, and 5-6 room inboxes), quite the mess. My solution would be to make the administrative assistant (or ANY administrative assistant) the administrator of the conference room and then she can share out the calendar for each room. But, the stubborn admin for some reason doesn't want ownership of the conference rooms. She's got the dreaded "too-big-to-fail-itis" I guess...I wish there was an OTC cure for it.
 
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Old January 6th, 2012, 04:49 PM   #24 (permalink)
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wow.. so many inboxes
you poor guy Tx having to put up with all that
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Old January 6th, 2012, 05:01 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TxGoat View Post
Sometimes it's funny how things work out. My recommendation for our new email migration was kind of shot down about a month ago (Same demanding administrative assistant that expects a projector's image to look EXACTLY like a monitor's display) and thus my manager decided to go 3rd party with individual settings in regards to our new Email migration. Long story short, they decided to go a different route than my recommendation because a few people COUGHAdminAssistantFromHellCOUGH wanted it to be a "seamless process" where they didn't have to do anything. Turns out the solution that the 3rd party offered is already receiving complaints from other users.


To give you a better idea (if I haven't already posted), the genius that set up our email server initially thought it would be a good idea to set up conference rooms as an individual email. This allows everyone with access to that user email (the conference room email address) to block off times for that room. Since we migrated to a new email server off site, the rooms have been set up as actual assets. The only problem with that is no one set anyone up as an admin for those assets.

My solution was to set up the admin from hell with admin rights and have her manage scheduling for that room. It's pretty common for the Administrative Assistant to manage scheduling, I mean that IS what administrative assistants DO. For whatever reason this admin refuses to take ownership and wants EVERYONE set up as an admin for that room. Thus, the 3rd party working with her is adding EVERYONE on site as an admin to each conference room. Thus, now instead of 1 inbox in each person's Outlook, people now have 6-7 inboxes (1 their own, and 5-6 room inboxes), quite the mess. My solution would be to make the administrative assistant (or ANY administrative assistant) the administrator of the conference room and then she can share out the calendar for each room. But, the stubborn admin for some reason doesn't want ownership of the conference rooms. She's got the dreaded "too-big-to-fail-itis" I guess...I wish there was an OTC cure for it.
I had a similar situation at one of my clients. I went with an old-school, extremely effective solution. I created an account on the domain and called it scheduling or rooms or whatever. I gave it an extremely complex password that was like 27 letters so it's practically hack proof. I created calendars under that account and shared them with everyone. Voila. If I need to change someone's permissions on a calendar, I can easily do that. If they need another calendar for some other use, it's easy to do. Everyone can see the schedules for the rooms and you can easily audit who is making changes to them as well.
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Old January 6th, 2012, 05:16 PM   #26 (permalink)
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wow.. so many inboxes
you poor guy Tx having to put up with all that

Think of it this way, 100+ people sharing an inbox, one message gets sent to that inbox, that's 99 unnecessary email transmissions on the network, all because one admin doesn't want to take ownership.


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I had a similar situation at one of my clients. I went with an old-school, extremely effective solution. I created an account on the domain and called it scheduling or rooms or whatever. I gave it an extremely complex password that was like 27 letters so it's practically hack proof. I created calendars under that account and shared them with everyone. Voila. If I need to change someone's permissions on a calendar, I can easily do that. If they need another calendar for some other use, it's easy to do. Everyone can see the schedules for the rooms and you can easily audit who is making changes to them as well.
That may work but what I'd prefer is to have 1 person as the admin so that if there are scheduling conflicts they can decide who gets the room for the allocated time and who has to reschedule. As much as I'd like to employ a "first come first served" policy, considering our parking lot policy is "execs up front even if they come in at 10:00am and leave at 3:00pm" I'm sure if they have a schedule in place their schedule supersedes some lower level supervisor that's already scheduled a team meeting.
 
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Old January 6th, 2012, 10:13 PM   #27 (permalink)
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That may work but what I'd prefer is to have 1 person as the admin so that if there are scheduling conflicts they can decide who gets the room for the allocated time and who has to reschedule. As much as I'd like to employ a "first come first served" policy, considering our parking lot policy is "execs up front even if they come in at 10:00am and leave at 3:00pm" I'm sure if they have a schedule in place their schedule supersedes some lower level supervisor that's already scheduled a team meeting.
Then have that one person access that scheduling mailbox with full control.
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Old January 10th, 2012, 04:15 AM   #28 (permalink)
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I currently work at a manufacturing site where many of the employees are of "advanced age" and seem to really be set in their ways. Probably the hardest part of my job (other than the unrealistic expectations of the technically challenged) has to do with employees that don't know how to use software or use it incorrectly.

As IT professionals, how much training are you ok with providing employees throughout the course of a day? For example, there is an admin that's been with the company for a long time and is always asking me how to do things in MS Office, how to remote in from home, and other basic functions that I feel she should already know as a qualification for her position. Where do you draw the line?

For the record, I'm the "IT" guy not just when it comes to IT, but I'm it, I'm the guy that chases down network issues, password resets, hardware failures, telephone failures etc. As much as I don't mind helping people with minor software questions (is a relief after troubleshooting a printer for 3-4 hours) I feel that sometimes my time is being monopolized by people that should already know how to do what their job.


In the IT sector if there is a person who don't even use the MS-office properly, i don't think so they have any technical knowledge of this Sector..
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Old January 10th, 2012, 09:09 PM   #29 (permalink)
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I beg to differ - there are plenty of IT people who have lived their entire lives in *nix/ Darwin, and related sectors. Plus, mainframes and mini-mains are still around, so people that code in HPUX or AS/400 are still around today as well. If they choose to run nothing but *nix or Darwin at home, then they may not be all that conversant with MS Office. But, they may, in contrast, be a wiz are Libra Office, Open Office, Word Perfect, etc.
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Old January 11th, 2012, 12:08 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Then have that one person access that scheduling mailbox with full control.


Therein lies the problem. This admin doesn't want that responsibility. She just wants the system to schedule everything, and doesn't want to share out calendars. I personally think that she's trying to pawn off the responsibility to the IT department. The sad part is she doesn't know who needs to have access to room scheduling, yet she's the administrative assistant. Go figure.
 
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Old January 27th, 2012, 02:41 PM   #31 (permalink)
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I worked in Level 1 and then Level 2 network support for OS/2 at IBM Austin. One of our favorite things to do to abusive customers was to rub the foam mic cover on the side of our faces while talking. It sounds like static.

Then hang up. Didn't have to do this but once or twice while in Level 2.

The job was actually a lot of fun. We didn't have scripts and were able to actually use our brains and tools to fix the customers' issues. Didn't pay worth a damn though.
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Old January 28th, 2012, 10:53 AM   #32 (permalink)
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Tell me about it. I did the same Tier I and II for IBM Global Services, Radiant Systems, and a few others, including a well known ISP.

I wore out the mute button on 3 phones!
I used to Work for a well known ISP as well and I had friends that worked Raidant Systems P.O.S. stuff. I can sympathize for the Call Center tech types. I did 4 years in consumer ISP support 6 months on the biz side before jumping to the corp help desk....is that frying pan to the fire?
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Old January 30th, 2012, 08:44 PM   #33 (permalink)
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My background is in training and I have just graduated into higher levels to where I am now a Business Analyst. I love to train so I am always willing to show folks how to do stuff. I believe I have come to be the go to person and therefore added value to my position. If they start looking to make cuts I don't think there would be anyone on the staff that would point a finger in my direction.
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