For example, every two weeks, Richard Casselberry, director of IT operations for networking vendor Enterasys, meets with his internal help desk department to review the questions they get and brainstorm solutions. One quick fix: Increase the number of incorrect passwords users are allowed before they’re prevented from logging onto the network. By boosting failed attempts from 3 to 12, Enterasys was able to slash help desk calls for password resets without adversely affecting security.
Remote access products such as GoToMyPC and NetworkStreaming can help speed call resolution by giving techs secure remote access to customer systems. Kodak Dental, whose practice management and imaging software is used by more than 37,000 dental practices worldwide, uses an appliance from NetworkStreaming that enables clients to connect with techs instantly through the firewall. Users download a small remote applet — and log onto a secure Web page when they need help.
Dennis Nelson, support systems analyst for the company, says the NetworkStreaming appliance shrinks call times by 24 percent, saving the company $5,000 a day in support costs. That has allowed Kodak Dental to grow its business without having to ramp up help desk personnel.
5. Get the news you need
Want to cut down on e-mail and deploy a quick knowledge management solution at the same time? Then deploy an enterprise RSS app to deliver timely or essential information to employees. Apps such as Attensa Feed Server, KnowHow3, and NewsGator Enterprise Server (and its new hosted RSS service) allow you to set up and monitor news feeds.
RSS is more efficient than e-mail because recipients don’t have to wade through a mass of junk e-mail to find it and corporate spam filters won’t flag incoming RSS messages by mistake, says Rick Brenner, principal of Chaco Canyon Consulting. When you provision RSS feeds internally, they can help you get new hires up to speed fast — or quickly distribute security bulletins, facilities announcements, or interdepartmental memos.
Instead of asking employees to hunt for information on the Web, managers can use RSS to ensure the flow of knowledge throughout the organization. And because the feed can follow the employees as they move through the organization, there’s less maintenance from an IT perspective, Brenner says.
“RSS also eliminates the need to keep copies of the same person’s address on several subscription lists,” Brenner adds. “So if someone changes their address for any reason, they won’t have to notify anyone. And if someone moves to a new role that requires a different set of subscriptions, they can take care of the changes without bothering the RSS publishers.”
The caveats? Managing bandwidth from both a server and a user perspective. As with e-mail and instant messaging (see above), overusing RSS can result in a productivity drain, not a gain.
6. Get a handle on your projects
Gerry Skipworth was busy all the time, but his firm’s consulting business was losing money. So in 2002 he signed up with Innotas’ Project Portfolio Management simply to find out where all his time was going. Then the vice president of IT services for systems integrator Compugen encouraged his staff to enter their data into Innotas Web app as well. The results weren’t pretty.