A tech plan comes together

Two teams are tasked with rolling out new Windows machines to end-users -- with radically different results

I was doing tech support for a contractor on-site at a government agency. My job description was to answer calls from employees and troubleshoot computer problems. After a while, I was chosen to be on a two-person team to handle a major project.

The IT managers gave our team the task: build PC setups for a first rollout of new Windows machines to 70 employees. They emphasized it was to be completed in 30 business days. In all, four techs were assigned to the job, broken into two teams. My direct boss and I were on one team. During the project, we never met the other team -- we were told there was no need. We'd be performing the same tasks independently of each other, but all working through the list of 70 employees.

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The IT managers created a standard setup of all the software, registry settings, device drivers, and so forth. This was created as a hard drive image, and both teams got a copy, plus installation kits. We were given the instruction to make the installs in coordination with the users so that the computers could be swapped into their workstations while they were in training on how to use the new machines.

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It was an honor to be chosen for the project. I was told that my abilities to quickly visualize problems when users called, give good and thorough directions, and solve problems quickly and correctly had been noticed; unknown to me, some of the callers had been pretty high-up employees. I was excited about it and about being on a team with my boss, whom I very much enjoyed working with.

After getting our instructions, my boss and I took the time to talk about the project, make checklists, and set out a plan of attack -- which turned out to be amazingly efficient.

We split the job in half. My boss would go to the users' desk and take out the old computer while the employees were being trained. He would back up all their personal files to the server, then set aside their old machine in case we missed anything. If we heard nothing after two weeks, the old machine would be wiped.

While he was doing that, I worked on the new machine, copying the standard hard drive image over the existing software operating system image, setting passwords, designating printer assignments for the specific user, installing any custom software a specific user needed, and more.

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