Don’t blame your tools they say, but we’ve all had those days when the equipment fails and things do not go to plan. Laptops do not synchronise properly, emails disappear, photocopiers jam and chew up your important documents etc. Here are some important tips so that you can keep calm when IT problems arise.

Forward planning

  • Learn how your equipment works. Read the manuals! Make sure you know how to use the equipment and what to do if it goes wrong. Be aware of any idiosyncrasies.
  • Does your  IT policy state what to do when something goes wrong or is there a help sheet for guidance. You may find it useful to make some notes yourself when you contact IT so that you have some guidelines for next time something goes wrong.
  • Buddy up with colleagues – it helps you and you can return the favour some time! Who do you know who can help you out if you promise to return the favour? Does anyone know how to fix a simple problem for example a jam in the photocopier?
  • Get to know your IT people! How quickly will they respond to your call and what do they consider a priority? What is is their average turnaround time and are you and your executive(s) important enough to get a priority response? Can you use your influence?
  • Keep a list of IT experts and quick fixes handy. This is useful to keep in your little black book of knowledge.
  • Check your IT practices. Could they be contributing to the issue?   Are you and your equipment up to date with the latest technological advances?   For example, is your browser up to date and do you have the latest updates? Could your virus software be causing a problem?
  • Source other options e.g. delegate or outsource work. For example, if you have board meeting papers to print, could you delegate this in return for a favour?   Could you outsource non confidential work to a local print company?
  • Have a back-up plan in addition to outsourcing e.g. work from home, use other equipment. Working from home sometimes solves a computer problem, but also may give you the space to get on whilst your equipment is being tested or serviced. If working from home isn’t an option, could you use other local network equipment?

When it all goes wrong….

  • Whatever you do, don’t panic. Look at potential solutions in order to understand how this issue is going to fit in with your workload and expected outcomes.
  • Negotiate and buy yourself some time! Let people know that you have a problem but that you are working hard to try to resolve it. This may even be a good time to ask for help since you have their attention.
  • Keep a log of issues and solutions. This is useful so that you can try and establish whether there is a pattern and you can then also look at solutions which you have tried already. Your IT team (even if it’s only yourself!) will be able to make informed decisions based on this information.
  • Prioritise! Do you need to do certain tasks today and do you need to be the one to do it? Again delegate where possible. Ask yourself if it is your responsibility?
  • Go ‘old school’ and revert to non IT based solutions. What would you have done before technology took over?
  • Report the problem clearly and concisely also get a timeframe for when they’ll come back to you to fix it. Give reasons why you need it as a priority. The sooner you report the problem, the sooner it may be fixed. This is especially important if equipment has to be taken away or is completely out of action. Remember this issue will put you and your executive out of action potentially whilst the problem is fixed.
  • Put it into context. You may be having a bad day, but how much does it matter and will it matter tomorrow? Yes, it’s annoying and really frustrating but hopefully only a temporary issue and how well you deal with the issue will be remembered by your colleagues and will reflect on you personally.

This guest post was written by Hazel Crawford

Getting to grips with IT issues

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