General discussion

  • Creator
  • #2277987

    How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?


    by paymeister ·

    I am a non-IT person using MSAccess to do a *lot* of valuable IT-type analysis for my department and for the Corporate Office. Self-taught, I usually do things the hard way (having gaping holes in basics, I’m sure). I’ve bought membership in, purchased some good books, and am trying to do my homework first.

    At our site we have an 9-person IT group that keeps 1000 computers running. They have always been very helpful when I get stuck, and I respect, appreciate, and like them a lot. Though I have no hint of this (yet), I fear that they might begin to dread my visits.

    How should I approach them, and how far should I push them with 1) my work-related questions, since they don’t officially support Access, and 2) with my own questions from home?

    I don’t want to become like the CEO’s wife I read about recently. Maybe I should bring doughnuts…

All Comments

  • Author
    • #2720721

      Attitude has a lot to do with it

      by jamesrl ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      Be friendly, non demanding. Understand that they have other priorities and deadlines to meet. Never hurts to say thanks – consistently.

      I am working on the boss’s home computer right now – because I get thanks, and because he understands I will get to it when I can.


      • #3311945

        James you have the….

        by richards_unsubcribe ·

        In reply to Attitude has a lot to do with it

        You have the right attitude James… but here’s my take on this. Knowledge is power… some people fear it and others embrace it. You are trying to improve yourself and be more valuable to your employer by learning these new skills on your own. Some IT guys can be elitist and mercenary in their attitude toward their jobs and clients… read employers. “$124/hr Icave” fits that category…and his mercenary attitude remindes me of a little anal retentive jerk I once knew who wouldn’t give the staff an inch. They finally got rid of him. He truly feard that someone else might learn the secrets of his “black art” and somehow put him out of a job. Insecure and reclusive this guy lost his job anyway… not because he couln’t do the job but because he could’nt relate well to the people who needed his expertise. He just didn’t fit in. It’s not easy but all have to tread that fine line between being efficient and productive in our jobs yet be open, friendly and communicative with or peers and “customers”. All too often the “soft” interpersonal skills that are so important in a job are lost in the demand for excellence in technical qualifications. That MSCE you got from Gates & Compay does not qualify you as an easy to get along with “people person”. Sometimes going that little extra distance to help a client even if it’s an unrelated “problem” may mean a lot more than you think when times get tough and they start handing out the pink slips.

        • #3311924


          by toucan ·

          In reply to James you have the….

          Nicely stated.

        • #3292600

          well said

          by apotheon ·

          In reply to James you have the….

          That was well said. You make very good points.

          I feel compelled to be snide for a moment: not only does an MCSE not qualify one as “easy to get along with”, but it doesn’t qualify you as a competent Microsoft system admin, either. It just incrementally increases the probability that you’ll know some of the interconnected issues involved in managing a Windows network. There are a great many uncertified people that are fantastic at their jobs, and a great many certified people that are effectively dead weight, or worse.

          I’m not saying that certs mean nothing. I’m just saying they don’t mean a whole lot. Even when my certifications match up with the requirements of a job listing, I’m still often annoyed by job listings that place a heavy emphasis on certifications.

        • #3292436

          Well said

          by cagedmonkey ·

          In reply to James you have the….

          I have run into far too many MCSE’s with the elitist attitude.

          Just because someone has the MCSE title does not automatically grant them the knowledge. It just means they know how to read a misleading Microsoft question on a test and answer it correctly. Far too many MS tests place emphasis on separating out the relevant portion of the question (based on too many misleading statements) instead of actually testing your knowledge of the products.

          I’m sorry but I don’t know how many times I’ve had to figure out from a client or user which double-negative requirement they wanted..LOL..I just don’t find many of MS’ questions relevant to actual practice.

        • #3293982
          Avatar photo

          Personally I would go a lot further

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to Well said

          Any courses that a person may do no matter what it is that ends up with a pile of initials after their name should be considered as nothing more than bing able to finish the academic parts of the course and then only give that person the right to go out and start to learn their trade.

          These range from MS certificate to PH D’s there just is no difference but all to often these people seem to think that they are better than someone else and with a swelled head and ego to match they go out into the world and make it harder for the real people to actually get the job done.

          There is one other thing here that I do firmly believe that these people who list any initials after their name are attempting to impress others with their knowledge I think they expect people to bow down and kiss the ground on which they walk.

          However from personal experience I’ve found that the people that are impressed with this type of thing are not worth impressing in the first place.

          Personally I never use anything after my name unless it is required for legal reasons. Which I try to avoid now days and I really hate being called Doctor as to many people that term refers to Medical people and not the multitude of PHD graduates.

          However when really pushed my preferred letters “RL Raving Lonny or GP Generally Pissed” are used.


    • #2720692

      I think it’s okay

      by itgirli ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      And I think it’s great that you are going out there and trying to find info on your own. I don’t mind if people ask me for home computer help. Usually I can then ask if they just want it fixed and I usually do it for free the first time. Family asking tends to get annoying though, because they think since it’s family, it’s free. But I think it’s great when people ask questions and try to learn more about computers. I agree with James that it is always nice to hear those two little words “Thank you.” Most people don’t say them enough. Especially where I’m working now.

    • #2720685

      Try common courtesy.

      by dc_guy ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      For work-related problems, I would imagine that the technical staff gets as much as they give. They’re learning about a product that they don’t normally support. That’s the pinnacle of geek fun.

      For problems with your home technology, that’s a different story. It’s very likely a violation of company policy, albeit obviously one that’s not enforced.

      Techies tend not to be the most soft-spoken people on earth, so there’s no reason to beat around the bush with them. Just ask them if you’re being a nuisance, if you’re overwhelming them with work that isn’t in their job description and that is taking too much of their time.

      Believe me, you will surely get an honest answer. Frankly, I think the fact than none of them has already politely berated you for making them work out-of-class probably means that they at least don’t mind and at best enjoy the diversion. But there’s no harm in practicing common courtesy. Ask them yourself!

      • #3312106

        Don’t pester them

        by tech_guy1 ·

        In reply to Try common courtesy.

        I am the only IT person at my facility. We are running around 150 workstations and about 8 servers including an ERP application. I don’t mind the questions and most of the time I have a quick answer about someones home computer. If I don’t I’ll research it when I get the time and get back with them. I only start to get annoying when they come and ask you every days if you have figured out how to solve their problem. Well I tell them I will get back with them I will, but I don’t have time to sit down every day and explain to them for five minutes why I haven’t had time to look into it.

        A few simple words. Be nice to them and they’ll be nice to you. You will be able to tell it they are too busy to answer your questions. If you are concerned, then ask them if you are becoming a bother to them and let them know if they ever start to feel that way to let you know and you back off some.

        • #3311920

          Personally I don’t mind the questions

          by millerld ·

          In reply to Don’t pester them

          I work in a shop with two people and about 650 machines in six states that we support. We have the attitude that it is one of the benefits to be able to answer questions. We may not always be abl to give an immediate reply but we make our best effort to always get back to people as soon as possible.

      • #3293114
        Avatar photo


        by hal 9000 ·

        In reply to Try common courtesy.

        Never forget to thank them for their help when you get it!

        I actually mean THANK THEM and mean it as a simple thank you goes a very long way with almost everyone. If they think they are being appreciated they will go that extra mile to help you out of a jam.

        Also you have to understand that at times they may be unable to help you because of some job pressures so asking if the time is inconvenient doesn’t go astray either.


    • #2720683

      Sound like you’re doing just fine

      by oz_media ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      if your IT dept. has a good heads up, they will see that you are making a genuine effort to work through your tasks, but look to them for guidance. MOST It staff will appreciate this as it gives them a little recognition as ‘the one’s to see’.

      I will assume, based on your post, that you don’t BOTHER them or insist things are done right now, when you can clearly see that they are busy.

      I don’t know what your relationship with them is, but I used to have a guy I helped quite often and he took me out for a few beers once in a while, bought lunch or whatever. Not as bribery but just a thank me for the help.

      During these lunches etc. he would ask a few questions, explain what his objectives were and I became rather sympathetic to his position as he was only trying to do things properly ad wasn’t getting any help on his end.

      I think NOT asking them for help may actually be worse. A good IT member will ALWAYS respect someone who comes to them rather than someone who makes mistakes that may effect network performace, etc.

      I would take the approach, as I can see you do already, of just be extremely thankful for thier help, pump them up a bit by saying how valuable thier help and knowledge is to you. If it’s acceptable at YOUR workplace, bring them a case of beer on a Friday, offer to buy lunch, bring doughnuts or something, just to show your appreciation for thier work but not as a bribe to get more help. A gift certificate for a local lunch stop or anything, especially if they are helping you with personal work.

      I think you’re on the right path, you show a geniune interest in learning, not just DOING and expecting IT to clean up.

      I would personally say you are doing just fine, unless they express that they are too busy to help, which you can weed out of them if they are reluctant to say it themselves,

      “are you sure you don’t mind? Your help is invaluable to me in my position and I cannot say how much I appreciate it, but if you just don’t have time or are getting tired of these issues I completely understand.”

      Keep learning, you are on the right path and definitely have the right attitude!


      • #2723152

        I am also like you…

        by ·

        In reply to Sound like you’re doing just fine

        I remember where I used to work having to make MANY calls to the IT department for help with my system and as the “go-between” for my fellow coworkers and the folks in IT (seems I was the only one that had the patience and could talk both “languages” – not that I minded, of course ;).

        I cannot tell you how far being genuinely nice to the IT folks can take you. The guys in my old company’s IT dept. received a lot of abuse from others who thought they were “above” the IT people (at least until they couldn’t get their email to work, then who went begging to whom?!) and felt it was okay to yell at them for not fixing something immediately. I made it a point to visit the IT dept. at least daily, if not to just say hello and deliver a sincere “thank you” to whomever last helped me, and offer to carry a few reams of paper or toner back up to my floor so they wouldn’t have to make the trip (they were also responsible for maintaining the copiers, etc.).

        Seriously, I think you’re doing okay, especially (as I did) by trying to learn as much as you can and only calling the IT people when necessary. I’m sure they appreciate you at least having half an idea about what you’re talking about, too. I agree, the more often you can say – sincerely – “thank you” and when asking for help, be conscious of where your request may fit into their priority list, the more likely they’ll be to go out of their way to help someone who actually appreciates how hard they’re working 🙂

      • #3311938


        by buschman_007 ·

        In reply to Sound like you’re doing just fine

        “I think NOT asking them for help may actually be worse. A good IT member will ALWAYS respect someone who comes to them rather than someone who makes mistakes that may effect network performace, etc.”

        Way to say it Oz


      • #3311688

        Un-asked questions

        by bbeadenkopf ·

        In reply to Sound like you’re doing just fine

        I agree 100% with the comment about not asking for help. I’ve found that:

        1. The more users learn to do things the right way, the better it goes for IT in general; fewer disasters and smoother operation.
        2. The real terror is people who don’t ask, and then create or compound problems trying to do something on their own.

        Ask away!

    • #2723067

      None = Good

      by lamvidao ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      We should try to limit as much as possible. They should call the help deks or follow the Request System in order to get help.

      • #3312170

        IT people are worth knowing

        by lesmond ·

        In reply to None = Good

        I have made it a rule of thumb from my first job (all those years ago) to be friendly with the people who make things happen – the IT people (I’m one now myself, only freelance), the cleaners, the security people, in fact everyone who the majority of staff regard as wallpaper or “they’ve always been there”. A kind word, asking after family, Christmas cards etc. all yield amazing dividends when you need a favour. Even if it takes years before you need something done, or if you never do, these people run the places they work in, and can make life very difficult if they want to. IT people, as I have found out, are exactly the same – I’ll go out of my way to help someone who knows my name, asks about my wife, or calls into my office for a chat the odd time. The angry voice on the phone who has deleted the database for the tenth time (always my fault) and then downloads a dialler at home (never because they looked at porn) and expects me to fix it is on their own!

        • #3311958

          Amen to that…students take note…

          by mlayton ·

          In reply to IT people are worth knowing

          I followed the same policy at my college: get to know the maintenance people, the security, and above all the kitchen staff. You’ll never have to wait to get your plumbing fixed, security makes allowances for you when possible, and if it is in their power, the kitchen staff will make sure you get fed right. The same can be transferred into your job if you are lucky enough to work somewhere with kitchen staff. Just make sure your cleaners/maintenance definition includes anyone who services your computers/telephones and you’ll be amazed at how much more productive you can be. Treat those you wish to have help from as people EVEN WHEN YOU DON’T NEED HELP and you will be regarded with respect and treated well in return.

        • #3291043

          I agree

          by bweeks ·

          In reply to Amen to that…students take note…

          I find that if you treat other employees the way you would want to be treated, it makes for much fewer problems.

      • #3312021

        How Many Computers?

        by pitdiver ·

        In reply to None = Good

        1,000 computers? 9 people? Does that include IT management? It sounds to me like they are probably pretty busy with work related stuff already.

        • #3312004

          Must be Nice!

          by nicknielsen ·

          In reply to How Many Computers?

          One IT per 110 computers? Don’t I wish!

          At the last job before I started teaching, I had 342 Win9x boxes all to myself, with an IT/computer ratio of about 1:260. Of course, I was also lucky enough to have all my customers in the same city. My coworkers usually put in about 500-1000 miles per week traveling to customers

        • #3311949

          Donuts=good. keep going.

          by jennyn ·

          In reply to Must be Nice!

          Your IT dept (note “INFORMATON technology”) should be very greatful that staff are coming with INFORMATION process questions – how to manipulate and analyze company data. That’s what computers are for. So… what do you mean they don’t support Access???? they should SO want to know what the business is trying to do with it’s information.

          Go up the line and encourage them to hire more IT staff, esp some with Data management expertise to help the company work smarter – and so they can really support the information needs.

          But it sounds like you are friednly and respectful… Donuts work.

        • #3311876

          342 to 1?!?!? Insane or BS?

          by markguer9 ·

          In reply to Must be Nice!

          I for one can not imagine how a department didn’t get outsourced with that kind of ratio. At 342 one person wouldnt be able to answer the helpdesk line much be able perform any serious work.

        • #3311867

          depends on the setup

          by kyuso ·

          In reply to 342 to 1?!?!? Insane or BS?

          That number is not out of the question if most of the workstations are replaceable clients and most of the services are in a few servers and routers.

          Many unix platforms are like that, in that most of the critical services are relegated to servers, and many workstation maintenance are usually done automatically and from remote, so the only major maintenance are for servers and network hardwares, which usually are robust if properly installed. You can always hire part-time to replace non-critical hardwares anyway, and they don’t even have to be homogeneous since remote automated maintenance takes care of that.

        • #3292596


          by apotheon ·

          In reply to depends on the setup

          Actually, your network setup is extremely critical in determining how much administrative overhead you have to deal with. You are, indeed, on the money with this.

          One network I’ve had the pleasure to work with used a single sever-and-workstation pair to reimage the boot drive on every workstation in the network every time it had to be started. That cut administration of more than a hundred systems down to the equivalent of administration of two systems and change.

        • #3315322

          Could be a case of face men vs. backroom

          by jsmith ·

          In reply to 342 to 1?!?!? Insane or BS?

          Many people confuse technical support for the entire IT department, especially with a large orgs. However, there is a disturbing trend to overload tech support. The latest is to outsource the helpdesk/call center. This is supposed to reduce the amount of physical/desk side support you need. In practice, it works for some but not all problems. The number crunchers average hours of work to the number of personel and the number of computers. Then they figure out a number of computers per man hour and adjust the staff to that number. On paper it works out, in practice it doesn’t cover the complexities of IT staffing. Quite often, it can be feast/famine a number of days of reletivly little work then a sudden rush surrounding an event. Because of the importance of computers to daily functioning, you need a number of bodies to handle the event quickly. It is like insurance, you don’t need it till you NEED it.

    • #3312177

      make it legitamate

      by martykro ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      From my experience, if your questions are legitimate it problems and non-repetative, and you keep a good rapor with the guys in IT, you shouldn’t have too much problems with them.
      When i get too many questions from 1 user and they keep repeating themselves then i might get a bit impatient. If i encounter 1 user with many legitimate problems, i have all the time in the world. The people who i have a good rapor with could sometimes even ask me non-work related questions as long as they don’t expect to get full home support.

      Of course bribary always helps a bit (Dougnuts etc…. 🙂

      • #3312163

        Make sure they get credit

        by mikmurphy ·

        In reply to make it legitamate

        No-one likes doing things they get no credit for. So make sure your questions go into this department’s official incident/problem management tracking. That way, every time they answer your question, they get an “incident closed” credit. And if the amount of attention they give you interferes with their ability to do their “real job” you have created metrics to support their request for additional staff.

        Good luck!

    • #3312176

      Ever Considered pushing the boss for training?

      by steve7r ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      I think you’ll find most IT groups try to be as helpful as they can, but it must be remembered that they have their ‘official support’ to do and they musn’t compromise that.

      Ask for help – YES. But also ask for advice about training; I see you’ve got the books and are on the forums, but there is nothing like being immersed in a good training course. If paymeister is right and the work he/she is doing is important, then surely there must be a business case for getting proper training so you can set up the DBs more efficiently (and probably add more functionality).

      Also you will be less of a burden to your IT team, I am also willing to bet they will respect you even more if you’ve managed to get trained.

      Also a consideration at Christmas time always goes down well (when I was in an IT Dept it was always nice to get the odd bottle of booze from appreciative users!!)

      • #3312036

        Sources of other help

        by dcurry ·

        In reply to Ever Considered pushing the boss for training?

        Microsoft runs several news groups that many of their developers and highly experienced people monitor and provide answers on. You may try there, on occasion. Also, do a few net searches for mailing lists. Mailing list have helped the Linux community keep projects together, moving forward, replacing members that decide to part, etc., and usually every article is topic related. If nothing else, you may receive details and links to do some ‘home study’ to improve your skills.

        Good luck!

    • #3312175

      Just be nice

      by gpartridge ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      I don’t like users asking me questions about their home PCs if all they do is moan about PC problems at work. If they are pleasant to work for then I have no problem.
      You sound like you have this covered as you seem like a nice person.

      Just remember that we can’t always help. If we are very busy or working on a major issue, work can be quite stressful!
      When you want to ask a question ask if it is okay first. That always works with me and I never mind answering when a user asks if it is ok to ask me a question.
      Also try and ration questions between different staff and you will probably find one who is happiest to help. Don’t ask too much too regularly. It is ok to ask a few questions at once but try not to ask the same person everytime you see them.
      Tea, Coffee and doughnuts are all good! They will not fail to get some answers.

      • #3312168

        In the field

        by supportoranges ·

        In reply to Just be nice

        I am trying to run a support business in the field. Employees getting unofficial ‘help’ from IT regarding their home computers directly impacts me. They must feel ‘entitled’ to free home computer support just because they know an IT guy at work.

        It may not be fair but it seems to be part of the same mentality that convinces a person it’s okay to pirate Microsoft disks and take them home and load them.

    • #3312166

      I used to be like you…

      by john drinkwater ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      … and I found some people incredibly helpful while others never had the time of day for me. But by hanging around the IT team I got to hear that they were taking on temps for a big roll out that they couldn’t manage on their own. They took me on for six weeks and I never went back to my old department. I had to un-learn a lot bad ways of doing things and I found some aspects of the procedural and compliance side of formal IT work tedious until I realised just how important they are. I found that my years of working in the company’s core business meant I could bring value to the IT department and their image in the company improved as a result. Now, six years later, I’ve moved to another company where I manage the IT department. I always try and make time for members of staff who want to get involved – and yes, last week I installed a new PC for the CEO’s wife.

    • #3312160

      IT people are always there to help

      by parvez ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      I’m from from a IT team and I do go through this situation almost whole day. I do understand that the basic function of the IT person is to help everyone who needs help regardless whether he/she is part of the group or not.
      Just keep doing what you are doing and be nice with them.

      Parvez A. Siddiqui

    • #3312158

      Be courtious and patient

      by navyit ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      I work in the military, so my situation is slightly different, but I do have people asking me questions all the time, for software questions, and questions about their home computers and home networks. I simply tell them that I will be glad to help if they are willing to work around my schedule. I am extremely busy and when I have a little bit of free time, I will help them out with whatever I can.

      I understand that you may feel uneasy about continuing asking the IT staff personal work related questions, but they are there to support the users.

      • #3312082

        Amen to that

        by ttmillard ·

        In reply to Be courtious and patient

        Most IT professionals are happy to help, even if they don’t technically ‘support’ a particular software package.

        Allowing the IT staff to help them ‘on their time’ is really the best thing you can do. Be as accomodating as possible to their schedule, and when they do make time for you, never make them wait! That’s was one of my pet peeves. I at one time supported over 100 users on my own for a mid-size promotional company. Nothing would burn me more tham making time for a fellow employee, only to have them say they didn’t have time for me at that moment. Typically that person would end up at the bottom of my list of things to do, and it would be a few days before I got back to them.

        Just treat your IT people as you’d like to be treated, and I am sure they will continue to be happy to help.

    • #3312157

      Deja vu

      by bbbaldie ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      I used to pepper the IT staff here with questions. If they had time, they would patiently answer them. They are now my teammates (and we are a tightknit bunch, and friends away from the worrkplace), and I run our intranet and assist in managing our network. None of this would have happened had I not been forthright with my questions and they had not been willing to share their knowledge. Now, when someone walks in, I give them all the home help they need (unless I’m putting out a fire). The next guy with an Access problem may be our future server admin!

    • #3312156

      Doughnuts are ALWAYS appreciated!

      by matthite ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      Bringing the IT Guys (or gals) some fresh doughnuts will certainly be appreciated. Wait for a time when they seem the least busy, then drop in with the doughnuts, and ask away, while they enjoy a doughnut or two.

      Doing this sets yourself apart from the regular guy who is “always bugging us”…it shows you actually care, and you appreciate our help.

      Try to gather more than one question at a time, and try to keep to a MAXIMUM of one call per day.

      – Matt

      • #3312129

        On the subject of doughnuts

        by sue’s comment ·

        In reply to Doughnuts are ALWAYS appreciated!

        I once worked for a small company where it was stipulated in the contract that the boss supplied the doughnuts! As you said always appreciated!

        As an IT “family” we get plagued with requests from family to sort out their computer problems over the weekend. Last week it was my brother-in-law sorting out Clare’s PC. We were none to pleased when the Clare in question wasn’t his daughter (our niece) but the daughter of a work colleague. In consequence my mum is still waiting to get her printer fixed!

        1. Ask if it is convenient 2. Don’t pressurise 3. Keep thanking 4. Never take for granted and 5. Remember a person’s time is valuable.

        Friends usually give my husband a bottle of wine for helping them out but family expect the service to be both immediate and free.

        • #3311939

          I agree

          by buschman_007 ·

          In reply to On the subject of doughnuts

          You know the occation nice gesture goes a long way. We become a neccessity in emergency situations which usually means high stress, high pressure situations and then you’re forgotten when times are good. Doughnuts or something like that is always appreciated. Also a note to someone’s superior when they go above and beyond or drop everything to help you out means a whole lot to us.

          We’re used to the “personal requests”. We’re used to the “I gotta have it now” requests. But those that get the fastest service or PB support are the ones that act appreciative to the hard work we put in.

          The fact that you came to TR and asked such a question probably means you’re already showing said appreciation, in which case IT shouldn’t mind. if they do then they are either spoiled or inexperienced. Appreciative users are a rarity in most companies.


        • #3311788

          Appreciative users are a rarity in most companies.

          by steven m. ·

          In reply to I agree

          I agree a thank you goes a long way, also in large companies a email to supierors is always welcomed. My attitude always reflect the customers attitude. A customer that thinks the he/she is better than me or thinks that they are the only one on the planet may not get assistance with non suported software. Where as the other person that is ot a great attitude will get questions answered assuming that company policy will allow it. Again a sugar buzz is always appreciated( but dont forgot the coffee to go with the donuts).

        • #3292830

          Bring on the sugary goodness

          by stevehancock ·

          In reply to Appreciative users are a rarity in most companies.

          A lovely client of mine used to say when she had a problem..

          “I know this is probably jumping the queue and all but I really need help.”

          Bad right?


          She had logged a job in the correct way.

          She brought chocolate.

          And if we did a good job she would e-mail a supervisor saying what a good and prompt job we did.

          One of those users that get “Platinum Support” because they are just so darn nice.

    • #3312155

      They are NOT god!

      by simon.falla ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      Many IT bods think they are god, but they are’nt!
      Just treat them like you would anyone else. IT aint rocket science!

      • #3312108

        They are NOT god????

        by ripvan ·

        In reply to They are NOT god!

        Sorry, but the majority of people who say IT ain’t rocket science usually ask every couple of weeks where the “R” key is. No, rocket science it AIN’T. So how can people be so damn dumb about it?

        The only bad thing about IT is having to work with people who have their heads up their asterisk. Not all people, just the ones who only want you to show them where to click; they just want to know the minimum they need to complete their job. The boss doesn’t find them any more capable than the IT people do. Frequently, they are the ones who only want to know “where to click”. But they don’t put me out unless they are also the dangerous fools who have unauthorized screen savers, funky wallpapers (then they lose the wallpaper and ask you to “find” it for them) and joke programs they installed themselves. They are even worse on the email servers with their useless chain emails (you know the rest)…

        As far as the guy with the Access questions, I am not supposed to support home made Access programs, but I can do most everything someone asks about them. You have to try to help them, because you don’t know when it is way over their heads, or when you will be surprised with what they are able to pick up. (A couple of visits will give you an idea of how far to go with them.) I think everyone appreciates the latter type of person. They grow their knowledge, and make your day worthwhile because you can tell the light goes on for them, they check things out, they try things, and learn on their own as well. I have been called to fix things by people who maybe did something more than they were supposed to, and as long as it was something they were trying for work purposes, I could almost pat the person on the back. I wish there were more people like that. And they don’t always end up in IT, but they usually move out of their current job and into something else because the boss sees the same thing in them that you do.

      • #3312049

        No, they are not God, however ….

        by coloradomuffs ·

        In reply to They are NOT god!

        To some users, anything IT is rocket science. I realised many years ago that I could not do the job of the person asking me questions any more than they can do mine. I fully agree that approaching the IT people with good old fashioned courtesy, the same one would expect for themselves, is all it takes. Doughnuts are always nice but I never turn down some kind of help when approached with courtesy. If the person needs more immediate help than I give I’ll offer a contact phone of somebody I know who also knows the software giving problems. Just try not to cross that line where you expand your expectations of the IT guy into a personal home assistant.

        • #3311871

          rocket science

          by scsadmin ·

          In reply to No, they are not God, however ….

          I agree IT is not rocket science, however I know some very smart people who have all the ability of your average cucumber with a computer. My best explanation for this is that they just don’t ‘get it’ (excuse the pun). I, like most IT people, can sit down and fix a (simple) problem in five minutes in a program I have never seen…. some people are athletic, some are smart, and some get IT (no you don’t have to be intelligent). At least that has been my experience.

          I would recommend contacting the IT department in different ways. It does depend on your questions but try to – sometimes – phone them up, at other times drop in for a chat (bearing gifts =) and sometimes send an email. Emails are good since they can get to your question when they have the time.

          If you have access to the internet then use it. Simple queries on a search engine like google can yield a lot of results.

    • #3312154

      Don’t worry, they ain’t that busy

      by ungle ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      I wouldn’t worry too much. I run a support group – finance sector – that maintains twice as many machines with the same number of people.

      Do remember, though, it might not just be outside their responsibility, but also knowledge. If they have to look in the help files then you could do it just as easy!

    • #3312153

      Consider making your application official

      by penguinvitamins2 ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      If I read correctly you use Access as part of your work meaning it is part of a business processes you perform or are part of.

      I can suggest that you start the process to motivate that Access (and the development on it) are made part of the official supported products in your company and that development on it is more formalised. This will be the only way to ensure continues support of it and the development on it, even if you leave the firm.

      I, in my 16 year career came across lots of departments that became unstuck due to a person leaving the firm that “developed” and maintained these informal type applications. No one else in the department could carry on as none of it were documented.

      Your responsibility lies to get these recognised as part of a business process and to formalise it, as you would’ve done with any other tool or application that you motivate for to form part of your work.

      Or find a suitable alternative, maybe other areas in the firm requires similar application, and it might make motivating for support easier.

      Hope it helps

      • #3312133

        Law and regulations

        by josb ·

        In reply to Consider making your application official

        Be aware that your application could be part of processes that are covered by Sarbanes-Oxley or similar acts/regulations.

        In that case, end user applications should be developed according to policies and procedures and should be evaluated.
        Independend verification of completeness and accuracy is nessessairy.

    • #3312141

      Treat them like Humans

      by elwoos ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      It sounds to me as though you are doing OK. Treat them with respect, don’t be pushy, but also try to find time to chat to them or socialise a little with them, ask them for their opinions on what you are doing and generally make them feel appreciated. Try to find out if you have hobbies in common with them as them it means that when you are approaching them it may not be to talk about work but about something else that interests them. You may even find out they don’t like doughnuts but would prefer something else as a small gesture

      Many IT ‘geeks’ want respect and to feel valued

      • #3312127


        by jacoko ·

        In reply to Treat them like Humans

        I agree with elwoos, treat them with respect and become friends with them. Should you do that they will always help you.
        just remember that I.T. support guys get paid to look after the system and not to look after applications.
        that’s why there are courses on these applications for non I.T people.
        ask your self this question…. Do they come to you to help them with there own financial needs or for advice on a business?

    • #3312130

      From an external consultant’s point of view….

      by graeme ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      …supporting 5-30 workstation businesses. It’s part of the game – odd 5 min calls and the scope of which HAS to include the CEO’s wife’s computer. 🙂 These calls can be a real margin killer as they eat into your day.

      But those calls often help us keep a finger on the pulse of what is going on in a business you only suppport on an occassional basis and can help us nip things in the bud before silly ideas go too far.

      When it gets exessive we send a bill for time. I have never NOT had it paid (so I guess we are seen as valuable) but occassionaly I do notice the volume gets turned down from a particular client and assume (and have had confirmed) that the unexpected cost was pointed out in-house and people were told to dial it back.

      I one instance – where the client (who runs a cookie making business with retail outlets) was getting excessive I started to prefix the call in a good humored way with “that is another 10 cookies on the account”. I kept a fairly accurate mental track and when we got to 60 cookies was planning on sending a bill. A large box of cookies arrived instead! They are good cookies….

      It is all about style, balance, not pushing your luck and recognizing the value of advice received.

    • #3312117

      Offer your help

      by tekdoc ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      If you are the type of person who gives help when asked, then you have no problem. If you are a person who has questions that can be answered by a basic tutorial, then read.

      When you solve complex problems on your own, be sure to show IT what you’ve done. They may be able to use you to solve some expressions, or help import complex data.

      • #3312113

        … but respect boundaries

        by theamazingsteve ·

        In reply to Offer your help

        Everybody these days works with technology and has knowledge anywhere between “enough to be dangerous” and “self-proclaimed expert”.

        IT folks are service personnel (whether they admit it or not) and generally aim to please. You can certainly return the favours granted by offering to help them, but not by doing their job.

        Offer to “lend an extra pair of hands if they need it”.

        Most IT folks don’t want their turf or egos threatened. You can help with lugging in a large shipment of equipment, for example. Help by promoting any new changing to the system of security procedures within your regular work group, rather than the resistance to change that is more common. This type of help goes a long way.

        Occassional home PC questions mixed with occassional doughnuts… definitely. (They all might even gather for a doughnut break and have a group discussion about your issue.)

        The fact that you are concerned about possibly infringing will come through and help your cause.

    • #3312116

      Be careful how much of their time you are asking for

      by cindy in fl ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      As someone who is often called upon to help with this question or that, It sounds like you are doing a fine job respecting their time. Sometimes just so long as the person acknowledges that they are intruding is enough for you to say “aw, it’s fine”… and really mean it, it is fine. Most of it is just how you ask.

      Having said that though, you do have to be careful how much of their time you take. As an example, I was asked to help set up someone’s ID, show them the commands they needed to issue to finish fine tuning the access and so on. There were over 100 separate CONNECT commands that needed to be issued (don’t ask). Took me 4 hours to show and explain. That was too long. My fault for having said “yes”, I agree, but you do want to be cognizant of the amount of time you are asking for.

      And last, I’d be leery of how many non-work related questions you bring to them. I wouldn’t mind some, but if it happened very often, I’d probably eventually suggest you might want to take a class.

      Good luck. It sounds like the way you’ve approached it is working pretty well. Keep on what you’re doing, just be mindful of the amount of time you’re asking for.

    • #3312101


      by paul681 ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      As with everything I think if you show respect to them you have nothing to fear. Of coarse respect goes both ways.
      I myself handle a small office of about 30 Ws and 3 servers and have no problem answering questions or looking things up for people who ask.

    • #3312098

      Everyone says the same thing…

      by mlayton ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      Treat them like you would want someone to treat you. Ask “Do you have a minute to answer a question?” Actually listen to the answer. If the answer is “not really”, then ask when can you come back when it is more convenient. Make sure the question you are asking is NOT answered in on-line help or the manual, you don’t want to be someone they refer to as someone who won’t “RTFM”. And forget doughnuts – think Starbucks. And think it even if you haven’t asked them for anything lately. That way, everyone remembers you as someone who respects and appreciates them even when you DON’T need something.

    • #3312095

      On the right track

      by mrun2000 ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      I agree with a lot of the posts I have read – the fact that you are trying to learn and do some things yourself are definitely a great thing as well as an advantage to you. If you request help from IT – as long as you aren’t calling them every 10 minutes saying Is it fixed yet?! you should be ok. At my current job I am the only IT in our US office – I am not always treated respectfully by certain members of the office (the VP in particular), don’t think necessary to call me by my name. The VP will come to the doorway of the side of the office I am located on and just stands there – doesn’t say hello, or a word for that matter. He just waits until I happen to look over there (because I am supposed to know that he is standing there for me) – and when I do finally notice him there and look up he just points his finger in the direction of his office which is his sign language for I screwed up my brand new laptop again and you need to fix it.

      As long as you give them their due respect and are understanding when they have priorities over your issue then you should be fine. You seem to be a lot more respecting than most of the people here at my place so you are off to a great start. A geniune thank you when your problem is solved and patience in the problem getting solved are the best thing. If they are too busy to help you they more than likely will at least tell you that they will have to get to it when they have some time. As long as you are understanding and don’t start complaining and keep saying I need it done now! or are relentless in them taking care of your problem first I don’t think they will see you as a pest at all. Best of luck!

    • #3312094

      Corporate Rules Involving support

      by robert_dio ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      As long as MS Access is a part of the “Corporate Standard Image” for applications on a workstation, IT is obligated to support it, from my point of view. If it is a non-standard application that is needed for a project, then IT’s role is limited to installation and function and not app support.

      …and doughnuts (‘specially Krispy Kreme) can usually bring a few semi qualified answers from almost ANY IT person….

    • #3312092

      Ask for hints on how to solve it – Get Training

      by spevy ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      Try and always be self sufficient, if you get stuck, ask where you might be able to find an answer, or a hint. If you are really stuck, they you will have to ask for help.

      If using technology is part of your job, you should try and get training.

    • #3312085

      Yes, you should say “Thanks!”

      by rmrwork ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      You say that these guys have always been very helpful when you get stuck on your personal, non-IT-approved projects and that you respect, appreciate, and like them a lot. If that is the scenario, you should keep two things in mind:
      1.) they are probably taking time away from approved work to help you out on what, to their organization, is probably unapproved work; -and-
      2.) they get no benefit from this from a work / pay / reward standpoint.

      My suggestion to you is two-fold.
      First you should send a nice ?thank-you? note to their boss saying just how much you do appreciate these guys and the work that they have done for you. (You?d be shocked at how many people never bother to send a note like that and also at how much it would mean to the guys that helped you out. It really, really builds ?sweat equity? the next time you need their help.)

      Second, be aware that if these guys are free-lancing and their boss isn?t aware of it then he may tell them to cut the support cord with you. However, if they are IT pro?s and your departmental projects are critical then you should make sure that you have funded and approved the necessary support for this critical endeavor. Simply put, if it?s important then your department should be willing and able to supply the expense dollars for some part-time support. (Way too often IT guys help out like this, doing ?what?s right? without the benefit of budgeting and then their manager gets his head handed too him for running a group that is too expensive!)

      So, time to say ?thanks!? and probably time to buck up, too.

      And, if they are like most techies, donuts / pastry / treats will probably be appreciated!

      Good luck.

    • #3312084

      Work-related only

      by deborahmoore ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      A few pointers:
      * keep your questions to work-related topics only – there are other resources to assist with your questions at home
      * when you do approach the IT staff be prepared to show what research you’ve already done (e.g. looked at MSN’s Developer Support site), what things you have already tried and what specifically you need to accomplish and why
      * ask the IT staff if they are aware of any standards you should be following
      * watch when you ask for help; if there is a lot of activity going on, it might be worth waiting – especially since you have a small IT staff
      * be prepared to demonstrate the value your MS Access development provides to the company

      Good luck!

    • #3312083

      Every company is different. . .

      by toucan ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      . . . good people will help you as long as it does not affect thier ability to perform their own job. I believe that people start to sour on the extras when it impact their ability to keep their own plate clear. At the same time be aware that a few “IT” folks may use your questions as an excuse to be completing odious tasks. “You know, that paymeister kept me busy with a bunch of application questions. I wasn’t able to trace, label and bundle the cabling.”

      Also be aware, depending on the size of the company, the “pet user” program may create resentment especially among the users that feel they don’t get attention.

      That being said, co-workers are all of our best networking contacts.

      p.s. Is our grammar and spelling in the workplace really as bad as it appears on these discussions?

      • #3312081

        To your p.s.

        by mlayton ·

        In reply to Every company is different. . .

        The answer is maybe, maybe not. It probably would help if there was a spell check on these comments, but I think a lot of people don’t care enough about it to even run it if it was available.

        Check this discussion for more on the subject, and try to ignore the whole “effect” and “affect” tangent, which as Oz correctly points out, is irrelevant to the actual topic…

        • #3312075

          I agree in part

          by toucan ·

          In reply to To your p.s.

          I aint no grammar zealot, but at the same time I find it difficult to give credibility to someone flaming away about being respected when they don’t care enough to spell and phrase well.

          Having sat through screening sessions discussing potential candidates with HR, you would be surprised at the volume of applicants passed over because of the cover letter. Surprising as well the number of HR representatives that earned degrees in English or Philosphy as undergraduates.

        • #3311961

          Check your first reply???

          by jafa ·

          In reply to I agree in part

          Check the spelling of “their” on your OWN reply.
          (thier) Everyone makes mistakes 🙂

        • #3311951

          mea culpa

          by toucan ·

          In reply to Check your first reply???

          How right you are

    • #3312080

      How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      by frantz11368 ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      In the first place the question should not be:
      “How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?”, but rather “Should an IT staff ever help with an application that is not an officially supported application by the IT department?” and the answer is “NO”.
      By the way I would like to know how many servers there are in the company and how many applications are being supported. That IT staff is shooting him/herself in the foot by helping with a non-supported application; in other words he/she is breaking a very fundamental “law”/plicy of the IT department.

      • #3312077

        Business needs

        by jwe ·

        In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

        It sounds like there is a business need that is not being met by official company policy – an all to often occurance. I have been on both sides of such issues and believe that all of us need to keep in mind that the business needs should trump policy in most cases – as long as no harm is done – i.e. security, excess support etc. I appears that these people are treating each other as intelligent human beings with the common goal of getting there jobs done. There is an opportunity to revisit why this particular tool is not supported – perhaps a policy review is in order.

        • #3312060

          Application Specialist and/or Trainer

          by toucan ·

          In reply to Business needs

          Most smaller companies cannot afford to have these on the IT staff. Users think the tech,network administrator, & engineer should be the next best thing. However, running an application versus advanced mastery is a huge difference. The investment in reference and user guides, especially third party, have served me well in two ways. First is the ability to find a good solution. Second, I can loan a book out (teach a man to fish).

          I’m putting on too much weight from doughtnuts, a good conversation about the science of CSI, sailing or brewing beer is more than enough appreciation for me.

          p.s. (again, maybe this debate should be another thread) I for one, feel the mediocrity of mass produced Kripy Kreme is appaling. I lament the loss of good Mom & Pop baking operations that used to offer pastries fresh each day at the counter. Everywhere I go it’s crappy coffee and Krispy Kreme.

      • #3312074

        Who should help then?

        by pmview ·

        In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

        I believe that this is not a question for the IT staff themselves to be answering. This is a matter of policy within the IT organization. Access is a commonly used product within the business community, and most IT organizations support it. If your IT shop does not support Access, then the business users are missing an important tool in their suite of tools.

        Moreover, it seems to me that there is information that you are not getting from your supported applications, and this becomes an even bigger issue. As a business person, you have to weigh how much time you spend performing programming tasks, and does the cost-benefit support you doing this work yourself? Would you be better served by bringing in a true Access developer who can build a reliable application that meets your business needs? Who supports it from there is again a question of IT Service Policy.

        My personal belief is that IT Services exists solely to support the business community. If the business community’s needs are not being met, then the failure lies with IT Services.

      • #3312065

        You’re right

        by mek804 ·

        In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

        You got that right. If the user has a legitimate business need for
        Access, then it should be added to the offically supported list.
        Get some training on it.

        Any actions taken by the IT dept. that are not recorded will
        eventually bite that dept. in the rear end when it comes to
        training/staffing. And when IT gets bitten, guess who feels the
        pain, too? The end users.

    • #3312076

      General rules

      by placidair ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      If it’s work-related, even a “non-supported” app, IT staffers will generally try to help you. As long as you’re polite and reasonable with your requests (which means don’t expect someone to spend dedicated hours going through the database looking for a flaw). As far as your at-home computing. If it’s a 2-second answer, you’ll generally get it no problem. If it’s not, then you should expect to be pointed to a website or other resource that has information. Your home computer is not the IT department’s responsibility, and any help they give you on that is purely a “good will” effort on their part. And if you’re worried that they don’t realize you respect them — donuts never hurt. Seriously, the occassional sugar buzz goes a long way toward good will….

    • #3312073

      Ask, thanks, teamwork, and training

      by makins ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      You seem to have the right attitude if they are doing “extra” because it isn’t part of their support picture. Their problem is that they are being asked to support a program that they, most likely, have not had training for and isn’t figured into their normal work picture. (Thank you’s -verbal, written, or food – go a long way with IT folks. Often only gripes are heard.)

      If they don’t know what you are trying to do with Access, they need to know it because it might have implications with corporate security and their decisions about future IT directions, such as choosing ways for you to get your data more easily or in a format that better fits what you are trying to do.

      I’d suggest a meeting with someone to discuss what you are using your database to accomplsh.

      If Access is the best choice for you and them, training is critical. Perhaps you can convince your boss to fund training for you and for one IT person to help support you. (Increased productivity and reduced time between requests for information and when you can produce it in the form needed are always good selling points.)

      The value of training with an IT person is that it makes it easier to communicate because you will be “speaking the same language”. Likely the IT person will spot implications and patterns faster than you and will end up a few steps ahead of you in learning and applying, so it won’t be like “the blind leading the blind”.

      “Home” computers: – Don’t expect hardware support or for them to do things like figure out why a particular icon disappeared from your desktop. Support of home computers is incredibly difficult because the range of potential problems is far greater than computers in the workplace. People seem to automatically know isn’t fair to ask a truck mechanic at work to figure out why your personal car is making a weird sound when you are driving on the Interstate, but they don’t seem to make the same connection with a computer. It isn’t fair to ask them to troubleshoot a home computer.

      If you are working in Access, or other program, at home on a work-related project and you can’t seem to get it to do what you are attempting, ask your support questions during regular work hours. (Bring a copy of the file from home and make sure you still have the same problem on your work computer. If the problem goes away, the problem is how your home computer settings are set.)

      Bottom line: Say “thanks” for extras, work WITH the IT people to try to develop a teamwork approach, and get training so you can work smarter, avoid problems, and let the computer do the hard work, and so that you can ask better questions when you do need support.

    • #3312070

      It’s not what you ask it is how you ask…..

      by itmanager175 ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      the people who do not get help from the IT department are the people who think that the IT department is at their beck and call for business or personal use.

      The people we do not mind helping are the people who ask, not demand to be helped.

      (A box of Joe is always a good way to grease the skids.) 🙂

    • #3312069

      Self-Study and training

      by kimbag ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      How I feel about someone soliciting “non-IT” help depends greatly on how my day/week is going.

      Typically, though if I know that person has done the homework of Self-Study (there are PLENTY of books available on Access and dB management) or has actually attended training, not only do I more readily help them, but their questions are more readily (aka quickly) understandable and answerable.

      I say do your homework and don’t be shy about letting the IT folks know what you’re doing. This will let them know that you are doing your fair share of the work and not just hoping that they will get you through your Access tasks.

      Also be sensitive to how crazy and awry an IT day can turn. Never actually expect answers to non-IT issues. Just don’t. Never stop them in the hall and ask them if they have come up with a solution or if they have time to stop by and talk about your non-IT question. Always consider any non-IT help that you get as going above and beyond for that IT person.

    • #3312067

      Would you ask the motor pool to change your oil?

      by mek804 ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      As far as asking for Access support–sure. They probably realize
      that you are saving them trouble doing most of these things
      yourself. As someone else said, maybe you should ask your boss
      to get you some training. Make it official.

      The user who can do some things on his/her own initiative tends
      to warm the techs’ hearts, and most will be glad to spend at
      least some time helping you.

      But as for asking for support on your home computer: I feel that
      it is out of line. I don’t ask the motor pool for help with my car, I
      don’t ask the CFO for investing advice, and I don’t ask
      accounting to balance my checkbook. It is just as inappropriate
      to ask IT for help on your home computer.

      I often hear “but I do work stuff on my home computer”. Well,
      that is between you and your boss–have the company get you a
      laptop if, for whatever insane reason, you want to work at home.

      I don’t have enough time to do what I am *supposed* to be
      doing, let alone fix everybody’s home computers.

      There is also the question of liability. If I advise you to do
      something to get your PC at home running and you end up
      losing all of your data, does that leave me or the company open
      to lawsuit? Even if not, it will still leave a sour taste.

      I’m sorry if this all sounds mean–I didn’t intend for it to sound
      that way. I’m just really tired of people asking me to do personal
      favours for them in the guise of work. It is a serious time-
      waster, and it is beyond “unprofessional”–it is rude.

      Thanks for listening to vent ; )


      • #3312057


        by toucan ·

        In reply to Would you ask the motor pool to change your oil?

        I would not hesitate to ask advice, it’s not like you are asking them to do it for you. I respect people that ask advice, it broadens all of us.

      • #3312017

        Don’t compare apples to oranges

        by jafa ·

        In reply to Would you ask the motor pool to change your oil?

        Whoaa there….take a breath and relax. Your comparisons are a little extreme!! Asking someone for help on personal PC’s isn’t out of line in my book. Who said that it was going to be at work or during company hours? I’ve dealt with many, many personal PC issues and dont have any problems about it. I’m sure that it’s mainly personal preference but a simple ” I’m sorry I just don’t have time right now” is better than ostracizing someone because you feel they are wasting your time. I enjoy helping people, even in my spare time and many times I have been rewarded generously by thankful friends. Sometimes I’ve had to inform people that they have lost all their data and I haven’t been sued yet. I picture a person like you driving past an old couple having trouble with a flat tire because YOU think if they ask for help, it’s unprofessional or rude.

    • #3312062

      Don’t push it

      by rewrite ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      If you feel like the IT staff is begining to dread your visits then you are probably getting to your limit. If your tasks are not supported by IT and you also are using them for home projects then you have to remember that you are utilizing their time for things that are not their resonsibility and taking them away from things that are their responsibility.

      It sounds like you have taken some good steps in helping yourself (memberships in groups, purchasing resources and teaching yourself). If what you are doing is really important (except for the home stuff) then you should approach management and explain what and why you are doing it. Try and get them to send you to some formal training seminars/classes. If you cannot convince them of this then ask them if you should continue doing it. Communication is always the best policy. Maybe management doesn’t know what you’re doing to provide them with the information they need and what resources you need to do it. On the other hand, maybe they would prefer that you spend your time doing other tasks. Neither you nor management can make the right decisions without all of the information.



    • #3312061

      IT-type Analysis?

      by underground_in_tn ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      In the old IT business model, non-IT folk who needed various reports for business analysis did not have the tools to create and/or run those reports, and had to go to IT to develop and run them. This may be what you meant by “IT-type analysis.”

      But unless you are analyzing trends in network usage and traffic, the TCO of various computer systems, or the best software solution for the finance department or data warehouse, then you are not doing “IT-type analysis,” but rather financial, purchasing, or some other department-type analysis. I’m drawing the distinction because I perceive (perhaps incorrectly) that you are trying to justify your frequent requests for IT assistance by implying that what you’re doing is really their job.

      But it isn’t their job, especially since they’ve said that they do not support MS Access. It’s your job.

      If your boss has assigned you the task of doing this analysis, then he should supply you with the tools to do it. He/she has given you one tool – MS Access – and now he/she needs to get you thorough training and support. I applaud your efforts to learn on your own with books and the Experts-Exchange support service, and encourage you to continue on that track. But the next step is to find an alternate line of support from people whose job it is to support you, and, from what you say, that isn’t your IT department.

    • #3312059

      Be “Professional”

      by gsquared ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      Best bet is just have good manners and respect the IT people, and they will have good manners and respect you.

      Don’t “brown nose”. Don’t “suck up”. Don’t demand their time either. Politely request assistance.

      Most people like to help other people, at least as long as it doesn’t hurt them in any way. If you aren’t stopping someone from meeting a deadline and you aren’t causing a disaster, you’re fine so long as you have good manners.

      Most IT people will respect that you are learning a complex system and will like you for that. Just your interest in making the computer work for you gives you something in common with most of us.

      A comment earlier in the discussion about making the Access database/project an official part of your company’s supported systems made a lot of sense to me. If the data in it and the tools you’ve built in it are important to the function of your job and/or your department, documentation should be done. Also, in that case, you’ll want to make sure your data and forms/reports/cubes are being backed up and are available if you’re off sick. (The philosophy I follow on important systems is “if the person who made it wins the lottery and moves to a remote Pacific island, or gets hit by a bus, can the company continue to use the software; if not, what does that hurt; of what’s hurt, is it valuable enough to matter; if so, make sure another person can take it over and make it as easy as possible for that to happen.”

      My unofficial Access database of my customers and their orders when I was in sales/customer service eventually turned into me being full-time on keeping a workflow/CRM/BI SQL database that the whole company uses. (It also resulted in a substantial series of raises and a few minor perks like being able to work from home when I want to.) So I say, keep going and just keep it in perspective.

    • #3312054

      People like to help

      by jmshtn ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      I have often had to ask for unofficial help from more qualified staff and mostly they are happy to do this. But you do have to bare in mind that they may also need a favour one day, and how willing would you be to bend the rules for them. If it is truely a two way thing then you have done the sums right, if not consider that you may be taking advantage.

    • #3312047

      Its not uncommon…

      by jimmy lin ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      Its not uncommon for any IT person to be asked for help on items they don’t “officially” support or for help with questions not related to work.

      If MS Access is needed for corporate business, they should help you out. They are there for that reason. You may want to ask for training since it is work related and a necessary tool to perform your task.

      As for home support, I have often gone to other people’s homes after work to help them out with things like computer set-up, installing hardware and software, showing them how to use MS Word, Excel, etc… I do this as a friend and not part of my job. I am usually taken out for a burger or something when I am finished helping them. Remember that you are asking them as a friend and treat them as such.

    • #3312042

      IT Staff are born to help

      by baraschb ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      I manage a infrastructure group of 20 systems people. We get lots of requests for help every day. If we have the time and the requester is nice about it we generally give some kind of help.

      It is important not to demand help or be pushy about it. IT people generally want to be of assistance.

      • #3311708

        Inclined to help

        by syntax heir ·

        In reply to IT Staff are born to help

        I’d agree that by nature most IT staffers are inclined to help. Myself, for example, I don’t mind answering questions about home PCs or issues but I draw the line when it comes to questions like “What sort of digital camera should I get my kid for his birthday?” To this I usually respond “Ask they sales guy at BestBuy” in the most polite tone in which it can be said.

    • #3312040

      Does this guy have a clue?

      by lcave ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      Does paymeister have any idea how much IT people have to deal with. My work load is too heavy for that kind of support. At one time, people used the IT department for home pcs and personal questions like it was one of their benefits. I get $124/hr with a two-hour minimum for non-work related consulting. Users get real smart, real fast when they hear that there might be a charge.

      Paymeister might want to set up support with Microsoft or purchase a book.

      • #3311992

        Small clue before, bigger clue now

        by paymeister ·

        In reply to Does this guy have a clue?

        Frankly, I *don’t* think I had much of a clue before (that’s why I posted my question). I have a much better picture now. Good points made by everyone, especially the distinctions between the legitimacy of asking work and the questionable practice of asking home questions. Thanks for the straight talk.

        And I have a LOT of books. Hmm. Maybe I should read them, too… or at least consult them more before heading off to the gurus.

    • #3312026

      Payment for services

      by randy.r.reveal ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      When people ask me for help on their home machines I usually look at their financial situation. If the can afford it I charge $25 per hour plus dinner. If they’re tight on money or a friend, just dinner.
      I don’t know any IT personnel that would turn down food for payment. Bringing in donuts of even a pizza should make them eager to help.

    • #3312022

      Two Separate issues

      by mikefromco ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      With regard to the access questions, I’d think that as long as they have the time, they probably don’t mind answering them. I never mind answering questions for enlightened users, after all I might end up doing it if they don’t.

      On the home issue, I’m a consultant for a govt agency and get asked to ‘take a look’ at a lot of home issues. I do it on my own time and generally everyone asks how much they owe. If I used parts or it is for a home business, I give them a fair price, otherwise just tell them they owe nothing. I usually end up getting more than I would have charged, either in cash, in-kind services, or gift cards.
      And the pests that expect everything in a hurry for nothing find it can take a long time for me to find a ’round-to-it’.

    • #3312012


      by adamb29 ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      Doughnuts, lots of doughnuts

    • #3312002

      The IT Group should worry about unofficial support

      by scottnv ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      If you are doing REAL work for the Corporate Office using an “unsupported” tool, what happens if you leave the company? The suits will still expect your analysis to continue. If no one in your department can take over the function, guess where they will turn? I suspect the day your department can’t supply the needed analysis, MS Access will become a supported product for your company’s IT group.

      You, your boss and the IT group should be working to get MS Access as a fully supported product NOW or you should stop using it. This is different than the CEO’s wife. When the CEO is replaced, the problem goes away. When you go away, the problem gets worse.

      Bring doughnuts to the “kick-off” meeting to get this product fully supported.

    • #3311986

      IT is a client service industry…

      by house ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      Back in the day when IT folks were generally outsiders, I’d say that they were easy to annoy. Nowadays…I love it when people ask for my help. There is nothing more satisfying to me than teaching somebody on a personal level. Your IT staff should be more than happy to help, assuming the network itself is under control and their priority tasks are complete. If they do not enjoy socializing in a professional setting, then they are not good IT staff.

    • #3311985

      Take a course

      by bleedingedge ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      Take a course in Access. Improve your skills so you do not have to rely on them.
      Giving praise may sound like a good idea but if they are not supposed to support Access and the wrong person finds out about it, then they could get into trouble.
      Petition to have Access support provided officially. This way they may be able to hire any additional personnel they may need.

      • #3293014

        I agree

        by house ·

        In reply to Take a course

        Even though I enjoy helping people out, the favors can quickly multiply into a serious problem. Personally, when I don’t know how to do something…I learn how to do it. I don’t understand why some people can’t be bothered with research and simple training. I still enjoy teaching people, but only after priorities are under control.

    • #3311979

      Reply To: How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      by soulcatcher ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      One method of thanks that leaves me glowing all day long is a simple “thank you” email – with a copy sent to my boss. If he’s happy and acknowledges that I am making my users happy, then it makes me positively euphoric! Then I don’t mind helping the users more… it’s a vicious cycle, you know.

      Send your entire IT department (or the one or two techies that usually help you) an email thanking them for going above and beyond in helping you, and make sure the IT manager is copied on that message.

      And donuts don’t hurt, either. 🙂

      • #3311785

        I agree a email goes a long way

        by steven m. ·

        In reply to Reply To: How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

        I agree a email goes a long way but be sure that the wording does not get the support person in trouble for doing something outside company policy. And dont forget the cc to the boss and if you copy your boss they will see that the IT group is helpful and mgrs do talk.

      • #3292921

        Well said!

        by tazroth ·

        In reply to Reply To: How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

        It always helps to have your boss know how happy your customers are with you. (At least for work related problems.)I keep a file of thank yous and good jobs from the people I help to open up at my next review. It is called going above and beyond duty and that should add up to a higher score.
        Keep up what you are doing, assure them that you want to know when you have burdened them too much, and continue the random acts of kindness.

    • #3311973

      Go ahead and bring donuts….

      by armandocanales ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?


      As a Tech, I like to make the light bulb go off over other people’s heads…

      I enjoy working with someone who WANTS to learn…alot of our work is for clients or employees who are either too busy or too lazy to learn things they should already know.

      As a tech, I always like to have one person in a department who knows something & I can talk to. Many times 1 person who can follow & understand my instructions over the phone makes my job alot easier.

      At my 1st job at a bank (1986 – think Lotus 123) the accounting department always asked me to go to their Friday lunches, cuz I kept their computers running…I was the only person in Management they asked…I also minored in Math so I could figure out some of the more difficult formulas they needed…& I always appreciated it.

      Ask, Show some common courtesy, & ever once in awhile, take one of the techs who has been helpful to lunch, or for a beer after work….

      Just trying to help,
      Armando Canales
      Engineer at Large

    • #3311950

      Let them know that you understand what you’re doing. . .

      by hmtattrie ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      From an IT perspective – I always try to help whoever I can within my organization (and even my customers from time to time) with problems they are having. What I don’t do is sacrifice things I’m supposed to be doing to do someone a favor. Having said that – it’s sometimes hard to tell someone (especially someone you’ve helped before) that you’re too busy to help them now.

      Let your IT people know that you understand that, occasionally, they will be too busy to help you and that’s fine with you. Let them know that “You’ll have to come back later” is a perfectly acceptable answer and that they should not feel obligated to help you all the time. This will put them in the position of helping you when they can – and I’m sure they will be happy to do it – when they can.

      I dont think that anybody ever got pissed off over Doughnuts either.

    • #3311926

      It fine to ask, it’s just a matter of if they will?

      by michael.fry ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      I know that when I am asked for un-official help, my first thought is whether or not the user has given me reason to want to help them beyond the SLA’s that are already in place?

      A User who generally makes me feel unappreciated or unimportant will generally get a “Sorry but I am not able to support that software / PC”, but someone who is always curtious and appreciative will get a “Sure, but don’t tell anyone”.

    • #3311917

      We Are People Too!

      by minjb ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      IT is a busy department. Straightforward and to the point is the best approach. Doing research and attempting to find out the answer BEFORE asking IT is very much appreciated. There is a difference between asking, “What is the primary key?” and “Will the primary key be affected if I convert my data from an Excel spreadsheet into an Access database and then merge that database to another?”

      IT pesonnel are problem solvers at heart. Being nice and courteous opens the door to ask us the hard questions. In otherwords, we are more likely to answer home questions based upon how we are treated when we are asked business questions. The more intriguing the questions is, the more likely we are to take it and wrap our minds around it; Especially if it is something we have not been asked before.

      Bottom line: How do you know when you are becoming a pest to IT? Simple. We avoid you as much as possible and the answers we do provide ar e business related and very, very, very, short. 🙂

    • #3311909

      Tit for Tat

      by pmadiga ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      Asking professional support staff for assistance on personal PC problems is not cool, unless they happen to be good friends and they don’t mind. If your were in accounting, how would you like it if I asked you for investment advice weekly and to do my taxes on company time every year? Skills are skills in any occupation. Help on home PCs spirals out of control. Problems that arise become discussions at work. Its not uncommon for advice to screw up and result in a home visit to troubleshoot the issue. If the IT manager finds out that home issues are being resolved on the company dollar heads could roll. If someone wants you to call them at home after work to get advice, go for it. Chances are that they don’t want you having that number at the ready whenever a fresh install of Battle Babes VI screws up your system. Personnally I work on barter. An hour of my time and skills gets me an hour of yours, that I can choose. I always keep the topic outside of work and the books even. This has worked well with lawyers, carpenters and even landscapers.

    • #3311854

      know the people

      by kyuso ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      Just like any other organization, IT group is also an organization with people who have to manage resources to make things work. This question is as relevant as for any other organization, IT or not.

      If you know you are taking their resources that were not meant to be used for your purpose, then the best way is to understand their priorities and be courteous, and respect them as any other people.

      Once you make good friends, it’s not too hard to understand what makes them happy to help you beyond their requirements and what makes them annoyed. This question will answer itself once you do that.

    • #3311841

      Have Your Company Pay To Teach You

      by jdurand1970 ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      I think that no matter how nice you are or how many dougnuts you bring, you will eventually wear out your welcome with your IT staff.

      IT support is as close to a thankless, all-consuming job as it is without the added pressure of addressing technical issues of the non-supported and personal kind.

      I’ve stopped working on employee’s personal computers for exactly this reason (and because most of the systems are poster children for PoS, out-dated technology).

      I’d take this approach…

      Meet with your boss to explain to him/her how you’re using Access to perform your job. Ask him/her to consider sending you to the beginner, intermediate and advance classes so that you can be more self sufficient and efficient performing you job duties.

      Short of that, perhaps your company should support Access if it is as critical to your department as it appears to be. Perhaps your manage needs to have a sit down with the IT manager.

      The only other thing I can think of would be to drop Access in favor of SQL and have an in-house developer (if you have one) create a user friendly front-end interface for you to enter your information.

      The main point, however…leave you IT staff be. They already have their hands full.

    • #3311831

      Test your interpersonal skills

      by yanipen ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      IT people are always there to help. Maybe some other guy(s) have mentioned this already. But as the saying goes, it depends on the way you handle things.

      An example: as you might have feared, they might have been looking at you differently, but have you ever approached them in a way that you can be liked? When they see you, they might get something in return? I mean, thats where your interpoersonal skills be tested.

      Tip: if it is allowed, have your ever gave those guys a treat? A pizza on a breaktime perhaps? Or a drink or two afterwork? Hey, it does not mean you do this everytime. But doing this counts. Like your thoughts of bringing donuts, it will help.

      IT people are always there to help. And, you can say it is their job. And sometimes, it becomes a heavy load depending on the work. having good relationships with people around you acts like an oil, or a grease, to keep the pistons going smoothly.

      I hope this helps.

    • #3311827

      Unforunate look of future

      by wombat74 ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      You are not alone. I have been involved in the same manner for quite a few years. Primarily self-taught, but very rewarding. At our site we have 1 person to cover about 250 to 300 desktops and about 50 laptops using remote access. She has helped me alot. I have no hesitation in asking her anything. I also make sure she knows I appreciate the help and periodically take her to lunch to express my thanks. She is very frustrated with the direction our company is taking. It apears that our company is making IT decisions that will be easy to maintain the “system” as opposed to being the correct tool for the end user to have to work with.
      This can refer to either hardware and/or software. I think that corporate IT is afraid of anyone with knowledge or they are getting quite good at building an ivory tower. Even my wife’s company has made very similar decisions. I think it actually decreases the line worker’s productivity.

    • #3311803

      Alot of donuts

      by zlitocook ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      And the like would be good! Most good IT people are greatfull to get away from the things thay are working on! Just ask for what you are looking for and they may redierct you to the right person.

    • #3311630

      It’s all about teamwork

      by geekgyrrrl ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      Having been on your end of things, and now on the other as my company’s IT person, answering questions from non-IT people in my company is one of my ways of giving back to the company! After all, I didn’t get into this position by magic; alot of people helped me along the way answering many questions. And keep in mind you aren’t just asking questions out of curiosity – you have a legitimate job function that requires knowledge of sometimes intricate and complex concepts.

      If you’re feeling like the ax is about to fall, try asking one of the IT guys/gals if they would be willing to have a strategy session with you about this important database you’re working on and give their input into the project. Here’s why that works – 1: IT guys/gals LOVE strategizing and it’s second nature for us (don’t we?) and 2: When someone has the opportunity to pass on knowledge in a somewhat formal way (a sit down discussion, a n arranged meeting, whatever) they will have sort of a “vested interest” in your project and will therefore be more likely to help out or offer crucial input, even when not approached.

      It’s about teamwork and to some extent, about stroking those IT egos, but mostly it’s about someone feeling like they’ve done someone else a good turn. 🙂

    • #3293312


      by processguy ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      1. Ask intelligent questions
      2. Take notes
      3. Don’t ask the same question twice unless the answer you got last time just didn’t make the grade (be ready to explain what went wrong from your point of view).
      4. Say thanks.

      Who cares about Starbucks and donuts? Buy me beer any day. Maybe while we’re at the bar I can answer a few of those nagging home PC questions for you.

    • #3293289


      by bilbobybath ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      So here’s my tuppence worth. I teach at a community college in UK, and am under constant pressure to integrate IT tools into our ‘Teaching and Learning’. No CPD budget, so try to learn by mysel stuff I can use to deliver better content to our studes. That means questions, from time to time, about stuff *we don’t officially support*.

      I learn something of the IT tools available, like Via 4-In-1 and Stinger, and why the regional VLE we pay ?20000p.a. for still does not do what we teachers need from it. And when the staff server crawls – most days – I find out, by asking gently, that we have no budget for the needed update software, or it has already been spent on MIS software that the accountants demanded last week. And I can plant the idea with MY boss that this stuff is needed, and that he should support the funding bid.

      I *do* bring in donuts for the IT Support team. Have done, intermittently, for over a year. We mutter to each other with smiles about it being ‘operant conditioning’, but when I turn up without any, they always ask where they are. A couple of they younger techies discovered I keep biscuits in a drawer in the little ex-store room I use as an office, so they drop in pretending to check something, and stay for an hour and a biscuit or three. They believe, bless ’em, that their supervisor doesn’t know where they are!

      Similarly,when they need a hand…. Their main store for dead/spare boxes and monitors is up the top flight of stairs where no lift goes. So when they’ve got 50 or so old boxes to move up there, I give a hand. It’s about holding the firedoors open when a couple of the girls are struggling with a trolley stacked shoulder-high with monitors. No-one else in my role bothers.

      Which all means that when I want something IT-wise, it happens that day. …..Like when I asked about the merits of a hardware firewall, and was given an old PIII box to try ‘Smoothwall’. I got handed one of the first Cisco WiFi Adapters to plug into my ‘loaned laptop’. “Take part in the trial”, they said. Same thing with my own desktop printer – and with software to install at home ( for college work! ). Saved me ?hundreds! Certainly worth a few donuts….

      It’s about building bridges – and maintaining them. Breaking the ‘them and us’ pattern. Saying thanks, guys. Like, in intermittent e-mails to department heads – cc IT Manager – about the help given, especially when there’s been pressure. And not creating merry hell when someone occasionally ‘drops the ball’….

      Somewhere, along the way, the IT Support team may slowly come around to see that we are all in the business together of trying to satisfy the paying customer. And if they stop paying, we’re all ‘down the road’ together….

      It’s a lot more productive if we don’t *demand* or *expect* unapproved support, but instead use ‘Techniques of Persuasion’ that we, individually, are worth going that bit further to help.

      What do you guys think?

    • #3293256

      Benefit all round

      by choppit ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      The fact that you even made this post suggests that you are a conscientious individual so I wouldn’t worry about it too much. If most of the TR subscribers and your IT support team are like me, then they enjoy spreading knowledge, and actually learn from it themselves. The only people I get frustrated with are those that ask questions but actually expect you to do everything for them.

    • #3293254

      know the grouch and the mood swings

      by chigeco ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      In every group or team there may be the proverbial grouch. Now he/she is the one you should be mindful of. Personally i’ve helped a number of users on unrelated issues by informing them on how I would go about solving issues or discovering tips on stuff. Why? not just because im a nice guy( im a regular guy and have my dark days) but because its a means by which I broaden my scope of knowledge. So build a rapport and always let them know they’re assistance is appreciated.

    • #3293158

      get them interested in what you do

      by degwell ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      i have taught guys in africa rite from how to plug the comp into a wall socket to opennig ports on tcp sockects… the easiest way i would think is to have them get to apprecaite yo stuff and it would help if you did yo homework first and then got to just ask for confirmations. always have an idea about something before you ask do not get hem to show you from scratch!!
      nice day
      Emiru. Uganda

    • #3293078

      Always write it down

      by ginfinger ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      I have been and the IT industry for over 10 years now. During that time I have often been asked questions by other Organizational staff about specific “Techie” problems. Answering those questions has never been an issue for me; furthermore, it actually made me feel better about my worth to my colleagues. However, the downside to this has been when the same person asked the same question over and over. That indicated to me that they truly did not value my time and document the answers the first time.

      Everyone has an ego and sometimes it can get in the way of accomplishing a given task. Do not just visit when you need something, drop in to “Chew the fat” sometime.

    • #3292841

      That’s what IT is there for

      by cagedmonkey ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      That what the IT department is there for to help with questions like that. If your IT department doesn’t like the questions then they should be in a different profession. Cuz that’s what IT is all about, answering users questions.

    • #3292786

      Self help

      by mlawton ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      Good old non-supported ACCESS! Been there done that. Two ideas: 1) education in ACCESS 2) find a place online to post your questions.

    • #3291173

      Some Suggestions

      by jamie.sheridan ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      First of all I want to say from an IT professionals stand point. We all appreciate the fact that you are trying to research or learn as much as you can about your problem and learning how to solve it on your own.

      Some tips that will help get you the answer to your problem in the quickest amount of time; I’ll list below.

      – Know your home system – What Operating System, software installed on it, etc..

      – Document the error or problem you are having. It’s really frustrating when a user asks for help but can’t provide description of what is happening. If there is an Error Message (Write it Down! or get a Screen Shot) Holding down ‘Alt’ and hitting ‘Prtsc'(print screen) usually will allow you to copy and past just the active window in a word doc or E-Mail to get the exact error.

      Remember the more information you can provide your Techie will get you an answer faster and a more accurate fix to your problem.

      – Don’t be afraid to tell your Techie what you might have done to cause the problem in the first place. If we know what you did then we can possibly duplicate the problem or tell you how to undue what you did.

      Most IT professionals don’t mind the occasional question about home pc problems or non supported apps but don’t want to get abused for the efforts either.

      As everyone else has said be understanding of what your Tech is working on as well. Technology changes constantly and depending on their work load and work environment this may delay a response.

      Always Thank them for their effort and if the effort is extensive maybe lunch or something along those lines is always welcome, though not necessary. It depends on what value you put on the work they have done for you or how often you ask for their advice.

      Lastly, remember that your IT person works for your company and not for you on your personal requests. If you get frustrated waiting for a response approach simply ask them if they have gotten a chance to work the problem. Always try to be patient if you can. I think that is one of the biggest down falls with helping people sometimes is the fact there is no patience to resolve an issue. Doesn?t matter if it?s IT related or if it?s buying something. We all want it now and not when you feel like getting around to it. It?s easier to help if you?re nice then if you are difficult. Unless you are personally paying for the support in which case you have the right to pressure the person providing support.

      This is just my take on this question. As for you Techie, if they don?t have time to help you with a problem; then they should tell you straight up from the beginning that they don?t have time and that will give you the ability to exercise your other option of finding paid tech support.

    • #3292633

      Communication Tips

      by rene ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      Dear paymeister,

      Go to this site and I’m sure it can help you out getting in good communication with these guys. I have heard many people being help by this.

      Let me know

    • #3293981
      Avatar photo

      Well just speaking personally

      by hal 9000 ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      I would prefer users to ask me questions because I can get it done right the first time and not end up spending hours trying to work out exactly what they have done to cause the mess that they are presently in.

      I can remember one instance when a upgrade of MYOB came out. Now because I’m a consultant and do work for a lot of companies in the same sought of industry up front I saw I do not want to play with their accounting packages but am willing to fix up any problems that may arise. Well one company did have a problem the upgrade came out they rang MYOB who told them how to install it no real problems there yet and then got to work. The only problem was that now that had 2 data files running and the person who had limited access and was only able to access the package enough to enter expenses was working quite happily away and it wasn’t until two days latter that they realized that all the expenses that had been entered in where not showing on the main data form.

      When I got there I was told what was supposedly done and 4 hours latter found the problem instead of just upgrading one machine and using the network to access the program and data file they had installed the same application on both computers and where using their own data files. Of course I wasn’t told this had happened all I was told was that we put the CD in the drive updated the program now it’s no longer working properly.

      There is one certainty the end user will never tell you the full story partly because they do not realize that could be the problem or as in most cases they just do not know any better. Personally I would prefer to spend 20 minutes talking them through an installation than several hours trying to find out exactly what has been done to cause the problem.

      I think you’ll find almost every IT person thinks the same way.


    • #3291584

      itsupport pov…

      by support ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      From the IT Support POV ->
      IT support personnel, for any work u want to do for the company, should do everything to help u they can – I know I do – and if I can’t help, point the client in the direction. All requests for help for company stuff should be kept official, so management are aware of whats happenning, and they know your needs….

      As for personal requests for help for personal needs -> I am always willing to accept a carton of beer in payment….

    • #3293421

      Way out in front

      by andypiesse9 ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      You have the right attitude; proved by the fact of asking.
      The people that tick off IT support the most are the ones who can’t be bothered to ‘learn’ and screw up systems again and again with the same mistake or have an attitude problem.
      Before getting into IT support I worked as a clerk and often went down to the factory to talk to the workers. My boss had a go at me one day for taking so long to get some information from the guys on the shop floor. My response was how long would it have taken him. He knew that that he would never have gotten an answer, because he had the attitude that they were not worth knowing. Correction He would have gotten an answer “Go **** yourself”
      Treat people as at least your equal and they usually respond.

    • #3314000

      Do not despair

      by guy.rouze ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      1st go ahead smoothly
      2nd you do not have the policy knowledged orders that the guys have received…from the CEO

    • #3315867

      IT’s job is to help

      by it-guy ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      If you asking for help with the skills or tools to do your job or do it better, then go ahead and ask. Good IT depts are willing to help and don’t consider it a bother. Ask anyone who has had an IT dept that didn’t respond and they’ll have a lot to say. We respond and we get Xmas cards.

    • #3297784

      Late reply

      by awfernald ·

      In reply to How far should non-IT person go in asking IT staff for unofficial help?

      Well, it’s kind of a late reply, however… you have to answer your own question about how far you can ask an IT staffer to go.

      The criteria you should use are:

      1. This IT person is helping me, however, he/she has to report their time to their boss. Is helping me going to cause them to receive pain from their boss?

      2. Have you asked your own management about the possibility of taking an MS Access course at company expense? or of getting reimbursed for your expenses if you paid for it?

      3. Does IT have an “approved” software that provides the functionality that you require?

      4. Are your questions forcing the IT person to have to go back and learn something new as they are not officially “supporting” MS Access, and thus may have little practical knowledge of the subject>

      5. Is there a way to make your thousand “little projects” into an actual IT based project where you would work in concert with the IT group in developing the applications you need, but also, this allows you to develop your skills and eventually not require that IT help as much?

      Something to think about.

Viewing 74 reply threads