When setting up a new user, I make certain to cover all the bases. Remembering my own introduction to the black arts of the IT world, I make every effort to guarantee the user’s understanding of his or her new system and let the user know who to call if he or she has a problem. It is essential to ensure that every new user has the equipment, privileges, and applications he or she needs. By mentally answering the following questions, you will be able to ensure that you haven’t forgotten anything.

New-user checklist
1. Does the user know how to contact the help desk?
Make sure that new users know where to come when they are having difficulties. Have your support team become familiar with new users and, above all, be approachable. Many users think that the support team is the last group to call on because of the superior attitudes techs sometimes display. Remember: We need users as much as they need us.

2. Do they have everything they need?
Make sure that new users have the applications, storage, and directory rights that they need to do their jobs. Find out what they do for a living and check what others in their department use. If there is a package that might help them, mention it to their manager. Explain your backup policy; be sure that they know where to save anything that is important. Generally, this will mean that local hard drives are not backed up but that network drives are.

3. Does the system meet the user’s needs?
Ensure that the system you supply meets their requirements. It’s no use giving an old 486 to someone who edits video. Conversely, giving somebody the latest 1.4-GHz machine with 256 MB of RAM just to type a few letters is a waste of money.

4. Does the user know how to use the system?
Make sure that users have had the necessary training. Sometimes people are reluctant to admit that they don’t know what to do. Give them the number of the training department or, better still, arrange for a trainer to get in touch with them to discuss their needs. A little time and effort spent at this stage will save a great deal of time, money, and effort later. Run through the correct startup and shut down routine and discuss routine housekeeping. Use the following TechRepublic articles for some additional training information:
“Put IT on the training agenda for new employees”
“Evaluate your training courseware options with this fail-safe process”
“Role-playing can help support techs provide quality training”
“Training tips can jump-start your help desk team”

5. Are there any environmental concerns?
Check that their workstations meet health and safety requirements and that they are aware of the need for correct posture, positioning, and lighting. Make sure that they do not slouch at their desks. This may sound trivial, but I assure you it’s not. Check out our article “Think Safety First! to avoid work-related injuries” for a firsthand account of how bad posture landed one tech in the hospital.

6. Are all cables connected correctly and safely?
Check that all cables have been routed so that they are safe from becoming a tripping hazard and from accidental damage. Tidiness, in this situation, is essential. Ten minutes spent double-checking the cables now can save a lot of time, pain, and trouble later. For more information on the importance of workstation cleanliness, check out our article “Encourage users to keep clean desks.”

7. Is the user aware of computer safety?
Ensure that users know about any hazards relating to computer usage. Warn them about the dangers of spilling liquids on monitors. It might sound obvious, but not everyone realizes how much power a monitor stores.

8. Does the user require any special assistance?
Check that any special equipment has been provided: foot rests, document holders, special screen settings for clearer vision, and so forth. Explain what help is available to users and how they can request such assistance in the future. Here are more resources for assisting disabled workers:
“Compliance with Section 508 deadline is days away”
“Browse these resources for training deaf students”
“Talented IT pros are overlooked due to disabilities”
“Accessibility guidelines for application software development”

9. Does the user know about your organization’s Internet and e-mail policies?
Make sure that users are fully aware of your organization’s policy on Internet and e-mail usage. There is nothing worse than having a disciplinary case when the subject claims that they didn’t know the rules. It’s up to the IT department to inform all new users of your organization’s acceptable-use policy. Check out these other TechRepublic articles and downloads for more information on Internet acceptable-use policies:
“Our updated list of e-mail and Internet use policies for your enterprise”
“A framework for e-mail and Internet usage policies for your enterprise”
“Download our samples of acceptable-use policies for e-mail and Internet use”
“Porno firings show the importance of having an e-mail policy”

10. Have you scheduled a follow-up visit?
All new users should receive a follow-up visit from the IT staff to ensure that everything is going smoothly. Schedule a visit for a week after your first meeting so that any bad habits that are developing can be nipped in the bud. If possible and appropriate, share a joke with them. Humor is great icebreaker. Spend a bit of time getting to know the users and let them get to know you. Being a real person rather than a name on a list or a voice on the phone is a great aid to communication. The following links can help your IT organization improve communication with the end user:
“Five tips for improving help desk/client communication”
“Members share ideas on improving help desk/client communication”
“Ten ways to improve user utilization of your help desk”
“Keep your end users informed by using some simple communication”
“Help desks are all about communication”

How do you handle new users?

Does your help desk have a standard checklist for new users? How long does it take you to set up a standard user? Post a comment to this article or write to Jeff Dray and share your experiences.