In spite of the emergence of “The Cloud”, neighborhood hardware will generally be necessary. Even the most standard tiny business enterprise client has a router, a network switch, a Computer and 1 or a lot more printers. Other consumers may well have Firewalls, Servers, Plotters, Multi-Function Units and any array of other hardware – most of it IP-enabled.
Multiply that by numerous consumers, and you have got an awful lot of hardware that becomes truly effortless to waste a lot of time and work attempting to handle – if you are not organized.
From Chaos to Order
The initial step in bringing order to the chaos is to acquire a Label Printer. My private preferred is the P-Touch Handheld variety from Brother. Something that you can conveniently carry with you, plug into the mains (battery operated is fine – but batteries run out, and you then start out to neglect to label items) and print labels will do the job. If you have a lot more than 1 engineer, acquire them all label printers and get them to label them with their personal names – they will be a lot more inclined to appear immediately after them.
Subsequent, organize a time for an engineer to check out client internet sites with his labeler at the prepared – grabbing and labeling something and every thing with a energy plug on the finish and generating a written note of every to take back to the workplace.
(Speaking of energy plugs, get your engineers into the habit of labeling these also, particularly servers. Clearly realizing which plug belongs to a Computer and which to a monitor is a genuine advantage when you are crawling below a dark desk on a dirty floor attempting to perform out what to unplug and what not to.)
But why bother labeling items?
Firstly, you are acknowledging the existence of a device. If it really is labeled, you know about it and can document it for future reference.
Secondly, when new hardware “mysteriously” seems at a client web site and a client calls you for help on it (in all probability outdoors your help contract) you can save your self a heap of time attempting to perform out why Windows 7 Property Edition is installed on it rather than a Company O/S.
Thirdly, labeling hardware speeds up the help procedure. If a user telephones the Helpdesk to say they cannot print to “That printer in the corner of the workplace”, then you can ask them to study the label and swiftly determine which printer it is that they are attempting to print to.
What to label?
What the label says depends on the hardware, but the label really should aid you conveniently determine the hardware in query. Some examples:-
- PCs – Workstation name, Fixed IP address (if applicable)
- Servers – Server name, Fixed IP address, Domain name
- Routers/Firewalls – External IP address, Internal IP address
- Network Switches – Internal IP address, Management IP address
- Nearby Printers – Locally attached Workstation name
- Network Printers – Fixed IP address, Queue Name (//Server/Queue)
We’re not going to be concerned about Workstation and Server naming schemes, IP address ranges or any other requirements just but. Correct now we’re focusing on documenting what is currently out there.
In some circumstances the engineer will not be in a position to determine network gear. Rather than ignore the hardware, they really should label it as “unidentified” and raise a help ticket or make a written note to investigate how to determine it later.
This requires some time, particularly if you have a lot of consumers – but it really is time effectively spent. You really should make this kind of ‘discovery work’ a aspect of the on-boarding procedure of every single new client, as the time spent discovering hardware now will spend dividends when you are supporting that very same hardware later – probably in a time-sensitive circumstance.
Document your findings
Going forwards, make it a policy that from now on, every single piece of hardware you deploy to a client web site really should have a label on it.
Document your findings. If you have an RMM tool such as GFI Max, then you are going to currently be in a position to scan networks for devices. Supplement this automated information and facts with your personal findings.
Quite quickly you are going to have a very good overview of the hardware at all your client internet sites. It’ll make supporting the client, each remotely and on-web site, a *lot* less difficult.
The use of the labeler as a force of very good does not quit there.
Hardware in the Workshop
Anytime an engineer brings a piece of hardware back to the Workshop for troubleshooting, it desires to be labeled. You may well label it with the client’s name, a short overview of the situation, and if you are employing a ticket program, the ticket quantity.
This may well sound clear, but how several instances do engineers stroll back into the workplace, drop off some faulty hardware and then get distracted by anything else? In this situation, a colleague may well be left scratching his head more than who the hardware belongs to and why it really is right here, or worse, consider the hardware is “spare” and go and re-use it for an additional job they are functioning on…
Speaking of spare hardware – it really is worth building a procedure to deal with this also. I like to build an location of the workshop that is particularly for Hardware below Repair, Hardware below testing, and Hardware for disposal. Then, as hardware comes in…
If it really is hardware that is to be sent back to a manufacturer below RMA, it really is labeled as such and placed in the “Below Repair” location of the workshop.
If it really is hardware that may well be faulty and necessary testing, a ticket is raised for this and it really is labeled as “For Testing” and labeled with the acceptable ticket quantity. The hardware is then placed in the “For Testing” location, and you can confidently give your newly employed Junior Technician anything productive to do on his initial day in the workplace.
If it really is hardware for disposal, it really is labeled with the fault and marked as “For Disposal”. It really is placed in the “For Disposal” location of the workshop and after every single handful of weeks you arrange for a specialist IT disposal business to gather the pile and dispose of it in an ethical and environmentally-friendly style.
Save Time With Labels
The quantity of time IT corporations can waste attempting to re-use faulty hardware that has merely been left lying about, or re-testing recognized faulty gear is thoughts-blowing.
A easy program of labeling such hardware saves hours of wasted time.
I hope this post has helped to describe how armed with a label printer you can make the basis of a series of systems that lay out how your business enterprise offers with client hardware.