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Category: Tech support

Thoughts on SPOC and responsibility

An important principle of ITIL is that all requests should go through a single point of contact (abbreviated to SPOC). What this means, is that a single channel should be defined for the reception, classification, and distribution of a request or incident. Crucially, it does not mean that all contact with the customer should be done by tier one.

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Drives mapped through login scripts unavailable from Windows Explorer

Every so often, a customer will call in, saying that they are unable to access one of the servers that are mapped through their login script. There are generally two reasons for this; either there’s an issue with the network connection, or the drive letter is already being used for another device. To troubleshoot the issue, then, we start by confirming that the computer is online, and then have the customer log off and back on again. ‘

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Applying Kanban to IT support work

Ask anyone who has a glancing familiarity with Kanban what they know of it, and one of the (if not the) first things they will mention, is the use of a kanban board. This is true; the kanban board, whether physical or digital, is one of the most visible parts of the Kanban method. It is an eminently visual way to represent WIP. So, how do you implement a kanban board in IT support?

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Find out what user has a file open

One of the questions that pop up every now and again, yet not often enough for me to consistently remember how to do it, is some variant on “What user is blocking my file access?” A user will typically call in, complaining that they are unable to open/edit/delete a given file on a file share, and ask the support tech they reach to solve the issue.

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From support analyst to DevOps thinker

The title of this post might seem a bit on the conceited side. After all, who am I to claim to be a DevOps practitioner, much less thinker? I will simply say that I am working to implement DevOps principles in my day to day life, am spending more than a little time reading, thinking, and writing about DevOps, and though I may not be considered a DevOps thinker today, I certainly aspire to join their ranks. The title, then, is a statement of aspiration, more than a statement of achievement.

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Thoughts on single piece flow in IT support

My first IT job was a one day per week internship with a pharmaceutical company while I attended my last year of high school. It was the first time I was exposed to the constant stream of support and service calls that makes up a large part of the day to day life of a support technician. I remember having a distinct impression that the IT department was constantly over-worked, always having too many things to deal with.

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The value of Kanban

Kanban (capital-K, as in the method) uses a kanban (lowercase-k, as in the board) to visualise and reduce work in progress (WIP for short). This is the most well-known, and visible, part of Kanban. It is achieved by limiting how many pieces of WIP any one work centre can have assigned. At first glance, this may seem to be incompatible with IT support work. This is as erroneous as assuming Kanban is incompatible with knowledge work in general, whereas it has been proven to be an excellent match for software development (for details, I recommend David Anderson’s book “Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business”).

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Understanding bookings in Outlook

I’ve been seeing a surprising number of tickets from users asking why they are seeing double bookings of meeting rooms of late. In each and every case, the issue has boiled down to one of user error, with users not knowing or understanding how meeting invitations work in Outlook. This was a source of confusion to me, until a user put it as follows:

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Windows: Quickly find system information

For a number of reasons, I often find myself needing to find information about a system that can be somewhat difficult to source, such as when it was last rebooted, or when the system was installed originally. Luckily, there’s a tool to help us out, called System Information. A command line utility, systeminfo.exe, offers a lot of information. This is both good and bad. It is good, because there are lots of things to be found. It is bad, because it can be hard to find the specific thing you are looking for. Enter the Pipe. By adding a vertical bar and a search query, we can find the exact information we are looking for without having to wade through irrelevant information.

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