It seemed rather fitting that my 100th post would land on SysAdmin Appreciation Day. This is the day where you’re intended to show your appreciation for all the hard work, skill, dedication, and time that your System Administrators put in every day to keep things up and running.
This being my 100th post, I look forward to writing many more, helping you solve more problems, and finding cool new utilities and software. I also hope to start getting more comments on articles. Your feedback is always welcome.
Quick list of how to treat your IT (not comprehensive):
Don’t move computers, monitors, or other peripherals on your own.
When planning on rearranging your office, take into consideration power outlets and network jacks. These need to be in range of your computer without creating a trip hazard with cables running across walkways.
Don’t break things intentionally.
Don’t eat over your keyboard. (Built-up crumbs and fried chicken grease are disgusting. Yes, I speak from experience.)
Assume your IT staff have a life outside of the office and can talk about more than computer problems. This includes if you see them outside of work. Be polite, say hello. Make chit-chat if you’re so inclined, but understand that they want to discuss work as much as you do when you’re off the clock.
Don’t interrupt their lunch break with computer questions.
Don’t touch the monitor screens. (Fingerprints on CRT monitors are annoying and pressure on LCD screens is bad for them.)
If you feel so inclined to discuss your home computer problems, realize there are a lot of things that IT takes for granted when solving problems with work computers: A stable network connection, standardized hardware and software, antivirus software, and tools at their fingertips to diagnose. All of these things make it easier to maintain the systems and solve any problems that arise. You should be able to provide information about these sort of things if you want your IT staff’s advice to be useful. Research your home computer problems with a simple Google search or look at blogs like this one.
After a problem is solved, try not to ask: ‘What caused it?’ Sometimes there is a clear answer, sometimes there isn’t, and sometimes it’s just another problem to solve in breaking down very technical issues into non-technical language.
When a system goes down, don’t respond with ‘Again?’ Realize your IT is far more frustrated with it than you are.
Understand some decisions are made at the administrative level and IT’s hands are tied. Decision-making sometimes moves toward authority instead of expertise.
Realize that most software requests cost a license and this must be funded, approved, and purchased before it can be installed on your machine.
Don’t install any additional software on your own, even if it’s free. These programs can interact or have conflicting results with work-related processes: Skype, VNC, Weatherbug, etc. This is not your home PC; try to stick to the work essentials.
Take your IT staff’s time into account when you’re budgeting to purchase a new system. You can cover the cost for the hardware, the software, and any contracts, but what about the hours and man-power of moving an individual to a dedicated project a few hours or days at a time?
Be willing to try out and provide feedback for open-source, freeware, or cheaper alternative software to save money in the budget.
Don’t report work requests right before you leave for vacation. If you are needed to login to either demonstrate the problem, test the solution, or confirm the issue is resolved this request must languish as long as you’re unavailable.
Provide an inventory number (or asset tag ID) with all requests.
Use the appropriate channels to make requests (OTRS, filing with your Help Desk, etc.) This is for your own benefit. If you e-mail IT staff A and they are out sick or on vacation, your request will be aging without being seen. IT staff A also then has more work to come back to.
Document your preferences, settings, and workflows. IT doesn’t always know what you do on a day-to-day basis nor do we want to repeatedly solve the same problem if you forget to do Step 1 in the workflow first.
Don’t lie. If you did something to cause a problem, fess up and provide as much detail as you can. It may help solve the problem faster.
Many problems are more complex than you think and will take some time to solve. Your patience will help ours.
Finally, celebrate SysAdmin Appreciation day! The last Friday in July, always be sure to send your thanks to your SysAdmins who work all the time solving problems, installing patches, maintaining servers, setting up hardware, providing network access, and much, much more.