IT Policies

Covering all the bases when you're in the field

What can you do when your cell phone is fried and you are miles from the nearest landline? Kick yourself for a lack of planning and hope that you don't miss too many deadlines.

Most of the time we use the phone to call the help desk. There are usually short dial numbers that route your call to the correct department, ours is 2222 from any company-fixed line or cell phone. This is great until your cell phone gives up the ghost and you are not near any company premises.

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My PDA phone had been acting up ever since I returned to work after my long summer break following surgery on my misbehaving shoulder.

The problem with the phone was that the slightest bump caused it to reboot. The problem gradually got worse until it was locked in to a continuous cycle of rebooting. Not only could I not make or receive any calls but neither could I see or process any of my calls. I decided to wait until I got home, dig out an old phone, and swap the SIM card over so that I could make that call. My personal phone is locked to another network. On the way home the phone sat in the holder in the car, going through its rebooting cycle. At one point it booted and stayed on the today screen, so I quickly keyed 2222 and was soon listening not to Vivaldi’s "Four Seasons" but to Billie Ray Cyrus’s "Achey Breaky Heart."

Not a good start. The call was answered, and I gave my name and employee number and told the help desker that I was having trouble with my phone. I started to explain the fault, but after a few words I found myself talking to an inert lump of metal and plastic. A few tries later I got through again, but got a different person on the line, so I explained that I was cut off halfway through my last call. To my relief they told me that the call had been logged on the information I had managed to give, and they gave me the ticket number, just in time for the phone to crash again.

My other choice would have been to ask my next customer if I could use their phone, but given that our help desk is in the United States, they might not have been too pleased.

The next day, our local IT department called me back and arranged to send me a new PDA and Bluetooth headset. True to form, since agreeing on a replacement, my PDA has performed flawlessly. I have decided to cover all the bases by digging out an old unlocked handset from my store of junk at home and putting it into my glove compartment.

When you are field-based, it is disconcerting to be out of contact with the office. I spend a lot of my day traveling between calls, so when there is no phone I am unable to keep in touch until I get to a friendly customer who will allow me to call in and report my difficulties.

I’ve been quite critical of our help desk in the past. I wasn’t happy when it was outsourced to an office in the United States, but they have addressed every issue we have put to them and come out on top. If any of that staff reads this, please take this as a personal commendation for your efforts.

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