From the Trenches – With Apologies to Don

By Daniel Antion posted 10-19-2011 09:05


For a variety of really good reasons, I am covering the tech-support help desk for a few weeks. I can safely say that the only people less happy about this than me, are the people who have had or will have problems during this period – I am told that I don’t have the best bedside manner. Despite that shortcoming, this activity has been consuming a good deal of time, so I thought I’d see if there were some lessons to be learned. If you remember Donald Rumsfeld’s Defense Briefing, my observations are on a somewhat parallel course this week.

Things We Know We Know – I would say that most of the tech-support calls and questions I have received fall into this category. People know what is wrong, and they know how to fix it, they just want someone else to do it. It reminds me of the Simpson’s episode where Homer got electedas trash commissioner. I don’t have time for that level of hand-holding so I tell people “I’ll be there as soon as I can be”, and they fix it themselves. It usually takes less than 10 minutes, so you might want to add that arrow to your tech-support quiver.

Things We Know We Don’t Know – I actually love this category. These are the things that people have seen or heard, and remembered, but can’t actually do by themselves. This kind of request might come in the form of “can you help me set up a site for…?” or “isn’t there a way that {some action} can happen automatically when I put a document in SharePoint?” or my favorite question of all “can I do this in SharePoint?” These requests tell me that people want to use SharePoint and that slowly but surely (although this week, I am likely to put the emphasis on “slowly”) they are learning what SharePoint can do. I try to respond to these requests quickly and I put on my best smiley-face.

Things We Don’t Know We Don’t Know – I swear, the Pentagon must have been using SharePoint when Don wrote this speech. SharePoint is so big, so robust and so malleable that most people simply don’t know what it can do. The requests I get that fall into this category aren’t usually in reference to SharePoint. Yesterday, someone asked me if I could give a person access to a folder on their department’s shared drive. I explained that granting access to a single folder isn’t all that clean and simple on a shared drive, but it’s dirt-simple to give someone access to a single Document Library in SharePoint.

I am always looking for the bright side of situations so here’s what I am taking away from my stint at tech-support. Although tech-support requests usually fall into the category of “let’s get this done and move on”, I am finding that these requests can serve as a barometer on the state of SharePoint. I think I can learn from this experience, besides, as I tell my daughter, “you can do anything for three weeks!” 

#tech-support #sharepoint #learning #SharePoint