Hardware

Tales from the desktop: Paperwork can be your friend

Do you have trouble keeping up with the work that you've done in your office? If so, Brenda Dial suggests adding a little paperwork to your day to make life easier.


Keeping track of all that you do and all of the machines that you work with may seem like the straw that broke the camel’s back. In an already overloaded day, doing extra paperwork may be too much to ask; however, this extra information may just make your life easier. If your company doesn’t have a program in place to keep track of support-related data, you should design your own using Excel, Quattro Pro, or a database like Access. The rewards might astound you.

Keeping track of your solutions
Once you’ve tracked down that unmarked computer port that isn’t punched down correctly, simply hoping that you will remember where it’s located is not likely to be enough. What about next time this PC has problems? How many times has this user called about the same problem? What did you do the last time that solved the problem and made the user go away happy? Having that little tidbit easily accessible might save you a trip around the work site or time wasted rebooting a malfunctioning computer.

Computers must be upgraded periodically to keep software already on them running properly. The next time those users are ready for their software upgrade fix, instead of having to check all computers, check your files. You might only have to make a phone call and tell them they can do the upgrade themselves, or make one trip with disks instead of a screwdriver!

Keep those records current!
It’s important to keep these support records up-to-date. While no one really wants to spend time updating old records when there is other work that needs to be done, for the potential future benefit, you might want to take on the challenge.

Decide what information is most important to have on file. This might not be limited to PCs. You may wish to include printers, copiers, faxes, and more. Make a simple form with the information you need. Include blanks that can be filled in with additional data later.

Print out several copies and attach them to a clipboard. Carry this with you as you move through your normal daily activities. Take a few extra seconds to jot down as much information as you can from the PCs you are working on; then, either file the paper or convert the information into your homemade database.

If there are other computers nearby, get their information as well. From just one trip, you now might have the answers to several problems that could come up in the future.

It’s worth your time
The initial gathering of information may take some extra time, but it could save you hours when time really counts. Having that information close at hand and easily accessible when a call comes in for help may save you a long trip from one end of your office building to the other.

Anything that can ultimately save you time and effort is a gift. If you teach yourself not to resent that sort of paperwork and learn to rely on the information it provides, you can change how you deal with your job.

An example in the real world
Let’s take a look at how this information can come in handy when dealing with a user problem. A call comes from a user who complains that his or her computer is acting funny. You have your patent questions that you need to ask, but while you are grilling the user, you pull out all your information on that PC.

By checking this information, you can see the other calls and problems from users of this PC, possibly even from this specific user, and you can see how these problems were resolved. You’ll know when updates were loaded and upgrades added. You might even have a record of the other uses of this machine, the last time the machine was cleaned or moved, and the port the PC is plugged into on the network.

With all that information at your fingertips, you may be able to do more than just tell the user to reboot (although that seems to cure a multitude of computer problems). Better yet, you may save yourself that long haul around the office trying to resolve the problem.

Trust me; doing less work in an easier, less time-consuming fashion is a good thing! Do yourself a favor and take the time to fill out some paperwork.
With all the work that you do already, do you have the time to keep track of extra paperwork? Do you think this idea is a great one? Let us know! Feel free to leave a post below or send us a note.

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