productivity-tipsInternal IT teams that spend their lives fire-fighting problems have to endure an unnecessarily stressful existence. Much has been written about the benefits of providing proactive support, but some IT departments still struggle with putting this into practice.

Here are five suggestions for sys admins that may help to instill “proactive working” as a key rule in your IT department, rather than the exception.

1. Educate your users

End users need to understand what the correct support processes are. This is a must for any IT department that doesn’t want to be run ragged on a daily basis with a non-stop flow of “can you just …?” and “how do I do this… again?” type of requests.

End users should be told what these processes are as soon as they join the company. They should learn:

  • How the helpdesk system works
  • How they should log calls
  • What problems they may be able to rectify themselves.

However, all this will be useless if members of the IT team allow end users to circumvent the process; therefore, everyone on the team must adopt a strict attitude where policy is concerned.

Doing quick jobs “just to be nice” undermines the whole system. So, stop being nice! Just kidding, but being a little stricter with end users is a must.

2. Devote uninterrupted time to the tasks that need it

The nature of working in IT means there will always be a mix of planned projects and unexpected jobs. There’s no way around that – things do just come up! But it’s very important that the project work gets the attention it deserves.

As a team it’s best to ensure that everyone gets a fair amount of time to step away from the fire-fighting to work on meatier tasks such as infrastructure upgrades. If this ‘uninterrupted’ time isn’t available, you will end up staying late to catch up.

3. Work on PCs without user prompting

All the computers you look after should be maintained to a planned schedule. By using an asset tracking tool, you can maintain an overall view of the infrastructure and easily identify machines that are due an overhaul or an upgrade.

It’s much better to install inexpensive RAM upgrades and other solutions before users begin to complain that everything’s getting too slow.

4. Fix errors before they become problems

Automated system monitoring and logging is the key to helping IT admins be proactive. As an example, Windows event logs often report “bad blocks” on hard drives that warn of imminent failure, giving you a chance to take action before a user has their day interrupted or (worse) loses data.

However, you cannot benefit from this advance warning if you don’t check the logs! Even well-organized manual checking is laborious, so an automated solution is the best way to benefit from the ability to see emerging problems before they affect the business.

5. Minimize distractions

These tips should help minimize day-to-day distractions and enable you to plan and have a few more days in which the workload is predictable. There is, though, much more that you can do.

If it’s not your turn to man the helpdesk, minimize the call logging system and don’t allow yourself to be distracted. Be strict about social networking too, and just say no when a user brings in their personal device and asks for a favor.

Do you have a tried and tested way of managing your day that minimizes disruptions and lets you get on with the job? Do share it with us!

For more hints and tips on how you can save time as a sys admin, read our whitepaper.