TechRepublic member mbutts recently had to field this question from upper management:
”What do you do all day?”
Apparently, they wouldn’t take “everything” for an answer.
“As the IT manager and entire department of a 35-person company, I purchase/support/train on all computer/telephone/geeky things we use to run our company,” said mbutts. “I also do billable network engineering for clients. But upper management was more interested in specifics, particularly the time I spend doing ‘Hey, do you have a sec?’ kind of support.” Mbutts posted this message on TechRepublic’s discussion forum to see if anyone had any suggestions on tracking the time spent on these tasks.
Member LordInfidel’s low-cost recommendation for mbutts was to create a project spreadsheet in Excel and list all of the tasks being worked on. Assign columns such as Status, Date Assigned, Amount Of Time Spent Working On The Project, and Estimated Completion Time.
“I also keep multiple worksheets called Current, Pending, Closed, and On-Hold. When a new request comes in, I add it to my pending list, then when I start working on it, it goes into Current,” said LordInfidel. “If there’s a problem and it’s delayed, it goes into On-Hold. If it’s completed, it goes into the Closed worksheet.” You can give a copy of the spreadsheet to your supervisor once a week or once a month.
If you need to log any political dialogue regarding the types of projects, you can record it in a Miscellaneous column.
To mix things up a bit, member admin suggests other categories such as Research, Troubleshooting, Break, Lunch (for once!), Testing The Speed Of Packets Going In And Out, and Testing (of any sort). Admin also recommends Mapping, “as in ‘I was mapping the frame rate capabilities of our new workstation video cards.’”
Tom uses a template he found in Outlook 97 in which users can send in their requests. “At the end of the week, I compile stats on all the requests and post them on the door of my office to give people an idea of the volume of requests I was handling.” Tom ended up using the tool when it came time to justify the hiring of a database administrator.
Tom also recommends Microsoft Project for tracking projects. “There are also several freeware and shareware programs available for download at www.download.com.” Just search for Help Desk.
Tbragsda recommends making the process as simple as you can. To avoid call-tracking systems that create more work than is necessary, Tbragsda suggests the following:
“Have all requests come to a unique mailbox. Something like Support or ITHelp or something. Then set up several folders to put the requests in, for example, Open, Telecom Complete, Network, and Desktop.”
Tbragsda admits that tracking the little one-off requests is the most difficult aspect to this task. One of Tbragsda’s managers once required monthly reports on all calls with cost centers, etc. “It took a full day, but it did pay off,” Tbragsda said. “We got more tech support with this sort of reporting,” and it’s also a way to justify new hires and equipment, according to Tbragsda.
Have you found a good way to track your work? If so, post a comment on this discussion and give your advice.
Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.