Tales From the Trenches
Major mistakes that cripple your business.
Nice to Meet You
I've been doing tech support for 17 years. I'm pretty good at it.
I'm that Mr-Fix-It guy you call when, in a way, it's already too late - when disaster has struck and you need it fixed yesterday.
That's when I ride in on a white horse to save the day.
Guys like me will always be in work. So long as humans use computers, there will be bugs, faults, security holes and things that break. Some of these things are inevitable.
But all-out disasters aren't inevitable. They happen because someone made an avoidable mistake. In fact, I see these same mistakes over and over again.
You need to avoid these mistakes.
Because the wrong tech support costs much more than technician's fee. There's lost productivity - and the rent, wages and other expenses you still have to pay even though nobody can get anything done. There's the emergency call-out fee to get it fixed at midnight or on sunday because you absolutely can't afford another minute of downtime.
Then there's that headache you get when you need projects delivered and nothing's working and you really can't deal with this right now. There's stress.
There's being stuck at the office longer than you should be. There's all that frustration and negative energy you take home with you after you finally clock off.
And chances are, it happens to everyone else in the office at the same time. So not only are you stressed and aggravated, you have to deal with everyone else being stressed and aggravated.
So what brings you to this point?
Let's break it down:
The First Deadly Sin
Tech support is full of guys who know just barely enough to get through the work day.
They've figured out that most of the time, nobody watching their work knows any better. So they can pretty much make it all up as they go.. and totally get away with it.
Very often I'm called to deal with a networking problem. Looking at how the network is put together just makes me say “what was the last guy thinking?”. He followed none of the accepted standards. So it makes no sense how it's put together.
This wouldn't be such a big deal if he'd documented his work.. so that I could have at least some idea what's connected to what. But these guys never do that.
Usually, in this situation, I unplug everything and build the network again from scratch. Why? Because that's literally the fastest way to know how the network's been put together.
And when I put it together, I follow accepted standards.
That means that if - by pure freak chance - a Russian communications satellite falls out of orbit and through my bedroom window as I'm sleeping..
..that's not great for me. But you'll be fine. Because any competent tech can understand in an instant how I put the network together.
In the short run, tech support cowboys with dodgy fixes can get you up and running again. But in the long run, they create more work and waste more time for everyone.
So get the job done right the first time.
The Second Deadly Sin
Too many businesses don't get pro IT support.
They rely on someone in the office with a different career but who is “into computers”. Or someone's friend or relative.
If you've got a one person home office setup, then getting a hobbyist is not such a bad thing.
On anything bigger? It's a slow form of self-torture.
Things I can do in minutes by remote support - if it's set up - can be showstoppers for a hobbyist.
The Third Deadly Sin
“Who’d bother hacking us?”
We’ve all asked ourselves that. I mean, who’s got the time?
All sorts of people, it turns out.
To get hacked, you don’t need to have be #1 on the enemies list of the world’s most powerful hacker.
Some guys want to spread malware. Others want to hijack your computers to mine bitcoins or to use in attacks against someone else. Some people just want to see if they can.
Businesses often get nasty surprises with just how far security breaches can go. When the bad guys get an FTP password, your website’s hacked too. Because you’re busy, you can go months before noticing the inner pages now link to boner pill websites.
Do you or your staff ever check your internet banking at the office? What if they got that password?
The Fourth Deadly Sin
Few things sting like an irrecoverable loss of data.
There are two ways organisations screw this up. They either don’t have proper backup procedures. Or they have excellent procedures that don't get followed.
They’re two different problems. That end the same way.
The thing about backing up your data.. is that on the thinky side of your brain, you already know how crucial it is. But it can feel kinda optional.. because life goes on, yeah?
So you let it slide.
Until it’s too late.
The Fifth Deadly Sin
Some IT support technicians treat you like they’re growing mushrooms: they keep you in the dark and feed you manure.
They blow you off with jargon and arcane terms.
I get why they do it. It can be tough trying to explain tech stuff to non-tech people. So I totally get why they don’t even try.
But that’s not good enough.
You rely on your systems. So you need to know what’s going on.
It’s a bit like getting a mechanic to work on your car. Sure, you might not understand every little thing happening under the bonnet. That’s why you go to a professional.
But you’d be right not to go back to the guy who gave you the bill and then blew you off with “oh, that’s just car stuff”.
Good tech support means good communication.
Be sure your IT support technicians aren’t giving you the run-around. It's your business.
The Sixth Deadly Sin
Once total catastrophe has struck, it’s too late.
I mean.. sure.. you’ll need someone to pick up the pieces. I can do that.
But you really needed to call me the week before.
No time machine? Then you can’t hook that up.
The Seventh Deadly Sin
Greedy operators will employ a certain number of IT support technicians and then sign up as many clients as they can. Then these overworked technicians rush around town trying to keep everything going.
This isn’t so bad when you only need scheduled care. And proper scheduled care is mostly enough.
But in the real world, stuff breaks. Things happen.
And then you’re left to wait. And wait. And wait.
Staff keep drawing their wages. Customers get less and less patient.
And still you’re left to wait.. hours.. days.. for the next available technician. You’re so overcome with frustration, you lean against your office door and silently scream.
And when the tech finally does show.. it’s useless to get angry. Your poor overworked tech is just trying to fit 6 days of work into a 5 day week.
So what’s the answer?
Like me, for instance. I’ve been doing this for 16 years.
So whatever your computer problem.. whether it’s your server, your network, your internet, or whatever else.. if you need it up and running to get your work done, then chances are I’ve seen your problem a zillion times before.
Please put your details in the contact form below and press submit.
If your situation is urgent, please tick the checkbox so that I know to get to you as fast as humanly possible.