Hardware

Train consulting clients to monitor their own systems

You can't possibly keep tabs on all the PCs in your consultancy network, so train users to monitor systems themselves. Susan Harkins suggests which tasks to teach them and explains how this exercise can help build your relationship with clients.

 IT isn't just technical nuts and bolts. As a consultant, you spend at least part of your time building trust with your clients and their employees. They don't have to be separate issues though.

One way to build trust and get technical tasks done at the same time is to train clients. Now, you can't train them to do everything, but you can teach individuals how to monitor their systems and keep things running smoothly. In short, teach them how to do the following tasks for themselves:

  • Run a full virus scan every day. If the software runs the scan automatically, show users how to check the log to make sure the software actually ran the scan as scheduled.
  • Check virus software to make sure it's running and its definitions are up-to-date.
  • Check backup files to make sure the process was successful.
  • Check for Microsoft patches and updates. This teaching process will depend on update settings.
  • Check for security breaches (if a firewall is installed on the local system).
  • Clear temporary files and downloaded program files.
  • Defrag the system regularly.

These are just a few things that the average user is certainly capable of handling. With a checklist and some basic training, users can monitor their own systems and save you the trouble of performing these tasks. Teaching users how to monitor their systems displays trust and confidence, and both go a long way toward building a good relationship with your clients. Perhaps most importantly, users will learn a bit about their systems and learn to recognize when they should call you for help.

Are there any items that you would add to the list? If you have trained clients to monitor their systems, how is it going? Post your thoughts and experience to the discussion.

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About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

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