Enterprise Software

Why must we pay for bad help?

I may anger some vendors with this topic. Okay, I feign to care. Can someone please tell me why software vendors

send installation technicians who know so little about a) the product they are

installing and b) computers in general? Do you ever feel like the tech that just left should pay you for all the training they just received? Working

for a fairly large company I see my fair share of vendors come and go. We upgrade and install new systems every

year, maybe too many. But because of

this, I get the opportunity to work with many fine field “engineers”.

In some cases, the technician the vendor sends is one of

their own, a corporate employee, and in other instances it is someone from a

local partner or VAR (Value Added Reseller). Either way, I find

that too many times their IT knowledge is severely limited. Get them out of their comfort zone and that’s

it. You may as well take over the

installation. Most arrive with

documentation that walks them through every step of the process. A script, if you will. I can appreciate having a script to reference. The script is a set of instructions that tells

the technician exactly what to do and helps to ensure that nothing is forgotten

as well as keeps their customer sites essentially the same. This can make troubleshooting efforts easier

for their support staff. The problem is,

don’t make them stray too far from the script or you could put the entire

installation in jeopardy.

It’s generally the little things. The tech arrives on-site to discover that

I’ve named the server something other than what his directions indicate;

instead of EMPLHSLP, it’s ADVRPT1. A few

months ago, I went on site to assist a vendor field engineer with a new

installation. It was a good thing too

because his instructions were to install everything to the C: drive. We happen to configure our Windows servers

with two partitions – a system partition and a data/application partition. I confused him by instructing him to install the

application to E:. The day was then spent

demonstrating how to troubleshoot Windows error messages and editing batch

files to change path statements. I

honestly believe it was the first time he had opened a batch file for

editing. People starting fresh in the IT

field should not be sent to customer sites.

Or, if they are, they should be accompanied by an experienced

professional. It should be noted that he

was a professional, friendly guy who repeatedly thanked me for helping him and

showing him new “tricks” to use for future installations. I won’t divulge the name, but can say that the

vendor in this case was a large international company that should be able to

hire qualified personnel.

I generally don’t mind helping others in IT, especially

coworkers. But I do mind paying a

company for a service, and then spending time showing their technicians how to

perform basic troubleshooting tasks. You

generally pay a third party to perform an installation or service call because

you’re either too busy to do it yourself or you want to have someone on-site

that knows more about the system than you.

This isn’t an overblown rant over one bad experience either. I see more and more inexperienced or

unknowledgeable technicians. I do not

want to waste valuable time training someone else’s staff, and paying to train

them just adds salt to the wound.

To be fair, there are many field engineers who are very

knowledgeable and good at what they do. I’ve

learned a lot from some and take my hat off to them. We do have a complex environment that may not

be typical of what most support staff sees.

Even so, I would expect the person who arrives to know how to work

around basic problems that almost always arise.

I expect the person to know what Citrix MetaFrame is, and to be able to

work with me when I tell him the server isn’t a physical piece of hardware but

is instead a hosted virtual server. Am I

asking too much?

What are your experiences with vendor field

technicians? Good? Bad?

Some of both I presume. If you

happen to work for a software vendor or VAR, defend yourself and tell me your

side. I know it’s not always black and


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