How to create and use a PC liaison program

If you need help with support and training but can't hire extra staff, consider developing a group of go-to users as PC liaisons. These people will not only develop their own skills but also help coworkers by providing IT information and education.

By Shannon Stein

It seems that as the role of the PC evolved in my company’s culture, so did the role of the PC liaison. The job description has changed over time, but the primary goal has always been the same: providing IT information. PC liaisons help with departmental and interdepartmental information exchange about policies, procedures, technology, and best practices.

There is no hard-and-fast rule as to what a PC liaison does on a daily basis. These individuals have other jobs that must be done in addition to their liaison work. Here at Roadway Express, we have guidelines to help PC liaisons with their goals and tasks. These individuals have a wide range of first-level responsibilities, such as assisting in the disposal of obsolete PC equipment and software, updating the mainframe asset management system, providing printer support and maintenance, and serving as a go-between for the desktop technology department and the end users. They also coordinate their department’s training needs through the training department.

Some departments use strictly technical individuals as their PC liaison, while others prefer an individual with more diverse interests and background to fill the role. Regardless of their technical background, each individual is a critical information source in his or her department. This group can create some significant changes in the skill level of end users by promoting more involvement in training and increasing class enrollment.

The hardware and software procurement process has also been simplified due to the help of the PC liaisons who explain to coworkers and managers how to order hardware or software for their department. Previously, employees missed steps in the ordering process, delaying the arrival of equipment.

How to select a PC liaison
Department managers select PC liaisons for different reasons, depending on the needs of the department. Some departments want someone who can provide first-level support, while others search for individuals who can develop their skills and become a "go-to" person for end users’ questions. This type of liaison must be up-to-date on classroom software training, and knowledgeable about printer errors as well as help desk questions.

If you are thinking about starting a PC liaison program within your company, keep in mind that potential liaisons should be good communicators. I suggest selecting an individual who likes to work with people and is excited about learning new things. In the technical environment we work in, there are always new things to learn and new policies to implement. Therefore, the PC liaison must have strong problem-solving skills. You do not necessarily need someone who has an extensive technical background but, more importantly, someone who displays versatility and flexibility as an everyday work ethic.

Other benefits
Besides providing training help and technical support, there are many other ways that liaisons can help end users. One example is the information exchange at the quarterly PC liaison meeting sponsored by the desktop technology department. For example, the procurement, training, and support department will pass on information about desktop technology as well as ongoing projects in their departments. After these meetings, the PC liaison can update their department with current information about other departments. At one such meeting, the training department unveiled a new intranet Web site and the online classroom training enrollment system.

This program also helps to keep employees in remote offices in the loop. PC liaison Mary Haller works in the Hudson, OH office and said that she sometimes loses touch with current happenings at Roadway.

“The PC liaison role keeps me plugged into the communication network,” Haller said.

How to develop your own liaisons
Clearly, there are many benefits to developing your own PC liaison group. In fact, it takes only one PC liaison to return from some exciting training to pass on this enthusiasm to coworkers. As word spreads about the benefits of this training, class enrollment will increase.

Here are some suggestions on how to start your own PC liaison group:
  • Start small. At Roadway Express, we have 50 liaisons, and we have been practicing for a while.
  • Draft guidelines. This will help employees accomplish goals specified by the department.
  • Have regular meetings. We meet quarterly.
  • Emphasize communication. This is essential between PC liaisons and coworkers and with other PC liaisons.
  • Think big. Motivated individuals who are willing to put forth the effort can accomplish a lot.

Shannon Stein works for Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. (ACS), a worldwide information technology outsourcing company that offers technology and business solutions. Shannon works in the training department of Roadway Express, which has a contract with ACS for technical support as well as training.

Do you offer special training or small tokens of appreciation and encouragement? What about recognition programs? Send us your best practices for praising your best users and encouraging them to help their coworkers.

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