SMEs may lack the IT resources of bigger firms, but managers can still make a difference by learning these tech support solutions for seven common issues
The 5pm deadline for a contract tender is looming when the computers being used to prepare the sales pitch start performing slowly. Very slowly indeed.
As panic envelops the office, all eyes turn to the operations manager who must now step in to prevent the potential loss of important business.
Events such as these are bad enough for any company, but when they affect an SME without the dedicated tech support solutions of a larger firm they represent a serious risk management challenge. The failure to fix the problems in a timely fashion will not only have a major impact on productivity but also threaten to damage the morale of staff.
Here are seven tech support solutions you should know:
1. My computer is running slowly
Two colleagues have identical machines, yet one is running at twice the speed. The solution for the slower worker is likely to be better housekeeping rather than an expensive upgrade of memory or the replacement of equipment.
If their computer’s hard drive is full, the operating system will struggle to write files quickly. Clear out clutter by deleting unwanted files and moving items into the cloud, if possible.
Similarly, there may be too many processes running in the background draining the machine’s short-term memory. Encourage the user to consider whether they really need 50 browser tabs open at the same time and ask them to close programs or applications they aren’t using.
It’s also worth running a virus scanner in case malware is present and to check whether system scans are running at the wrong time of day.
2. I’ve got the blue screen of death!
The dreaded error screen is sure to strike at the worst possible time. But once the panic has died down and the machine has restarted, it’s unlikely the Windows shutdown will have been as serious as it first appeared.
It’s still important to troubleshoot the error by running anti-virus software, checking whether there’s enough memory space and identifying the impact of any recent software or hardware changes. Find out whether Microsoft has released patches or service packs that may require attention and be sure to update drivers for the hardware.
3. Downloads are taking too long
Will the egg timer’s supply of sand ever run out? This, and the blue bar crawling across the screen at a snail’s pace are bound to test the patience of any worker.
First, run a test to find out your download and upload speeds. Are they consistent with those advertised by your internet provider? One way to hit the accelerator involves the Domain Name System (DNS), which converts numerical internet protocol addresses into web names.
There are many useful tools and apps for finding the best DNS server for your location. Once you’ve changed your router’s DNS server, every computer or device using that router will be updated for faster downloads and web browsing.
4. How can we remove pop-up ads?
Some pop-ups are unavoidable, such as warnings from your operating system highlighting security and performance issues needing attention. But if they come from an unexpected source then that’s a sign all is not well and that the machine may be infected with adware.
Run security software that will get rid of this kind of malware, and if any ads continue to appear then encourage users to tick pop-up blocking options.
5. Our machines keep losing wifi
With web and video conferencing now commonplace, the on-off frustrations of an unreliable wireless connection can be a disaster for client relations. The starting point for troubleshooting this problem refers back to the age-old tech support solution of switching the router off and back on again.
If that’s not successful then it may be that the wireless router first used to set up the network is overloaded, possibly as a result of growth in the business. There are now so many devices demanding wi-fi access that it’s a good idea to avoid bottlenecks by installing multiple access points.
Other fixes might include switching hardware such as desktop PCs and printers on to a wired network. But there are other factors to consider, such as poor positioning of the router or the possibility of frequency interference from other wireless devices.
6. My printer won’t print
Do we really need to print that document? The paperless office can’t come soon enough for the beleaguered operations manager, whose daily round of tech support solutions is likely to include fixing paper jams and replacing ink cartridges and toners.
Other more mundane printer issues tend to revolve around ensuring that drivers and software are installed on the computer you want to print from. It's possible that the driver has become corrupted, meaning it needs to be reinstalled.
7. My mobile device isn’t syncing work emails
The use of personal devices, known as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), boosts workplace flexibility but presents new challenges in relation to security, connectivity and the pressure these extra systems place on the network.
And office tech support solutions need to cover these additional demands. One of the most common requests involves the syncing of work emails. For this, ensure that “push” is enabled so that new data goes to the user’s device from the server. On Android phones, this may mean removing all accounts and clearing data and cache files before restarting the device and re-adding the accounts.
Operations managers have numerous responsibilities, but none is more important than ensuring business continuity. This means having a broad range of tech support solutions at their fingertips, as well as enough patience to help employees whose IT confidence might be lacking.
But with the experience gained of dealing with the same IT issues over a period of time, an SME will soon be able to drive down the number of work hours lost to outages.
Boosting productivity in this way highlights the importance of having a proactive approach to IT, whether it’s tackling day-to-day problems yourself or using a specialist IT support service to ensure a quick resolution for issues that may be too big or technical to handle.
- IT issues present a serious risk management challenge for an SME without the dedicated tech support solutions of a larger firm.
- Time lost to IT problems has a major impact on productivity and can damage the morale of staff.
- A slow-running computer is more likely to need decluttering than an expensive memory upgrade.
- Pop-up ads are likely to be a sign that machines are infected by malware you had no idea was there.
- Business expansion and a greater number of devices mean your wireless router may be overloaded.
Now you can master these tech support problems, get ready for the next business continuity challenge. Download: Manage the 60% Risk of Cyber Attack to Your Operations: The Business Leader's Guide to IT Strategy