GEEKNOTE: I’m a big fan of the 2009 Disney movie “UP”. In particular, I can relate to Dug, a golden retriever who can carry on a wonderful conversation until he is distra…. SQUIRREL! While most of us probably don’t fit the clinical definition of ADHD, I think all of us can relate to the way life often throws so many different things at us in short order that we find ourselves wondering what it was we were trying to get done an hour ago.
It is not uncommon for us to find that a new customer has one or more small fires that need to be put out so that their network can function properly. We picked up a new customer the first of last month with a situation more like the wildfires out west. No documentation of ANYTHING, stacks of old computers that needed to be tested to see if they were worth fixing, a network infrastructure that would have made Rube Goldberg proud, and computer problems that just wouldn’t quit.
I went in one day to solve a printer issue and within the first five minutes on site had four different people interrupt what I was doing to tell me about other problems. I felt exactly like Dug… SQUIRREL!!!
We’ve been working on enhancing our service ticketing system and this customer became one of the very first ones to be trained so that we could get a complete list of what problems they were having, along with some prioritization of what we needed to deal with first.
We have been able to stabilize things, replacing dozens of consumer grade wireless access points with a much smaller number of enterprise grade access points. The new access points work with a software package that lets us see who is connected where, how much signal strength they have, how much data they have moved, and much more.
The customer bought a bunch of new notebooks and asked us to configure them. As these new notebooks go into service, we’re configuring them in a set manner and documenting how everything connects.
I know we’re making progress. One of the employees there told me last week that we’d done more in the last month than all the previous techs had done in the last three years. I’m still smiling.
The next step will be for us to do a full network analysis documenting how the network exists today. Once completed, we should have a pretty good handle on their network.
Network analysis reports can be pretty involved. I worked on three this past week. One of them was 1/2 inch think, another was 5/8 inch thick, and the third one, which I need to finish up the first of this week, is already north of an inch thick! The third report is literally hundreds of pages of details regarding that customer’s computers and computer network.
Combining a clean network design with full documentation is the key to keeping things running smoothly and keeping me from getting “squirreled” the next time I walk in the door. It also helps keep you and your employees from spending all too much time chasing computer issues when they ought to be earning money for your company.
Rob Marlowe, Senior Geek