Technology Policies/User Passwords

It is the general policy that the IT staff does not need to know the individual user passwords and will take every effort to ensure that we do not keep this information. As a result, whenever we need access to a users account, we will generally choose one of two options:

  1. Have the user (if available) enter in their password; or
  2. Change their password on the server, and when completed, set the password to “require change on reboot”.

It is important that after a users password has been reset, that the following process be followed to notify them of their new password:

  • A note (preferably type written) explaining that work has been completed on their system and to check their voicemail for their new password.
  • On their voicemail, leave them their password (repeat slowly twice) and inform them that they will be prompted to change it when they next log on. Additionally, if they have questions to contact the office.

Technology Policies/Network Printers

Network Assignment

To properly configure network printers initially on a windows network:

  1. Leave printers setup in DHCP
  2. Check DHCP server and use the MAC address information to establish a DHCP reservation. Remember to set the reservation in ‘all’ DHCP servers.
  3. Restart the network printer as necessary
  4. Add printer on server via TCP/IP address
  5. Deploy via Group Policy

Color Network Printers

  • Configure default color setting as “black & white” which will force the end users to choose color only when the want it.
Rationale: From experience, users will not elect to go through the extra steps required to select black & white when printing and e-mail or website, even when color is not necessary. However, these extra color pages can contribute significantly toward the number of annual color pages.
  • Color printing access: depending on the printer/MFP device, along with its drivers, there are several options to restrict color printing.
  1. Use the printer configuration for access control lists within the printer itself, which will then require a “code/password” on each client’s workstation to be setup.
  2. Create two different shared printers on the server, one of which is black & white only (color disabled) and then use windows ACL to determine who has access to which features

Technology Policies/Guest Users

We’re starting a new series on Monday called “Policy Monday” to help share common technology policies. This week we’ll start with Adding Guest Accounts to the Network.

The following is a general guideline for creating guest user accounts on Active Directory based Windows network.

  1. Create a new Guest Organizational Unit
  2. Create the guest account:
    1. If it is a role account (several temps performing the same job) then create a “role based” username
    2. If it is restricted to a single user for a short period of time, then create a “real name” based username
  3. Set the account expiry to something reasonable
  4. Set the change password on next logon and assist the user with their first logon to the desktop.

U.S. To Train 3,000 Offshore IT Workers

Federally-backed program aims to help outsourcers in South Asia become more fluent in areas like Java programming—and the English language.By Paul McDougall, InformationWeek
Aug. 3, 2010
URL: http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=226500202

 
Despite President Obama’s pledge to retain more hi-tech jobs in the U.S., a federal agency run by a hand-picked Obama appointee has launched a $36 million program to train workers, including 3,000 specialists in IT and related functions, in South Asia. 

UPDATE: InformationWeek has learned that USAID just launched a similar campaign in Armenia. 

Following their training, the tech workers will be placed with outsourcing vendors in the region that provide offshore IT and business services to American companies looking to take advantage of the Asian subcontinent’s low labor costs.

Under director Rajiv Shah, the United States Agency for International Development will partner with private outsourcers in Sri Lanka to teach workers there advanced IT skills like Enterprise Java (Java EE) programming, as well as skills in business process outsourcing and call center support. USAID will also help the trainees brush up on their English language proficiency.

USAID is contributing about $10 million to the effort, while its private partners are investing roughly $26 million.

“To help fill workforce gaps in BPO and IT, USAID is teaming up with leading BPO and IT/English language training companies to establish professional IT and English skills development training centers,” the U.S. Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka, said in a statement posted Friday on its Web site.

“Courses in Business Process Outsourcing, Enterprise Java, and English Language Skills will be offered at no charge to over 3,000 under- and unemployed students who will then participate in on-the-job training schemes with private firms,” the embassy said.

USAID is also partnering with Sri Lankan companies in other industries, including construction and garment manufacturing, to help create 10,000 new jobs in the country, which is still recovering from a 30-year civil war that ended in 2009.

But it’s the outsourcing program that’s sure to draw the most fire from critics. While Obama acknowledged that occupations such as garment making don’t add much value to the U.S. economy, he argued relentlessly during his presidential run that lawmakers needed to do more to keep hi-tech jobs in IT, biological sciences, and green energy in the country.

He also accused the Bush administration of creating tax loopholes that made it easier for U.S. companies to place work offshore in low-cost countries.

As recently as Monday, Obama, speaking at a Democratic fundraiser in Atlanta, boasted about his efforts to reduce offshoring. The President said he’s implemented “a plan that’s focused on making our middle class more secure and our country more competitive in the long run — so that the jobs and industries of the future aren’t all going to China and India, but are being created right here in the United States of America.”

Obama in January tapped Shah to head USAID. At the time of his appointment, Shah—whose experience in the development community included senior positions at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—said the organization needed to focus more on helping developing nations build technology-based economies. “We need to develop new capabilities to pursue innovation, science, and technology,” said Shah, during his swearing in ceremony.

Sri Lanka’s outsourcing industry is nascent, but growing as it begins to scoop up work from neighboring India.

In addition to homegrown firms, it’s attracting investment from Indian outsourcers looking to expand beyond increasingly expensive tech hubs like Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Mumbai. In 2007, consultants at A.T. Kearney listed the country as 29th on their list of the top 50 global outsourcing destinations.

 

10 Tips for Hiring a Computer Consultant

As business-related technology becomes increasingly sophisticated and complex, many business owners, office managers and systems operators are turning to independent computer consultants to develop high tech business solutions that keep a company ahead of the competition and ensure their operation has the tools and training needed to run smoothly and efficiently. But how do you go about finding and hiring a qualified consultant who understands your business needs?

The Independent Computer Consultants Association (ICCA), a national not-for-profit organization which promotes ethical professionalism within the industry, offers these 10 tips for choosing a consultant:

Continue reading “10 Tips for Hiring a Computer Consultant”

Magic Touch – Customer Service

magic hat and wand with clipping pathThis process known as Magic Touch relates to the customers experience and viewpoint regarding our on-site service. Specifically, it is the illusion of our ability to magically fix technology problems without panic or stress. This results in an end user perception of professionalism and experience.

However in reality, a great majority of the problems we will be asked to resolve will be relating to software, hardware or problems we have never seen before. Our professional illusion is maintained by out ability to properly handle these instances. Below, is a methodology which is common in the industry, and the terminology taken from Adrian Grigorof, B.Sc, MSCE.

Continue reading “Magic Touch – Customer Service”

Basic Corporate Metrics

A trend I’ve seen within the last couple of years as been to measure performance of employees through a series of metrics, which are numerical representation of performance, service, quality, etc. A couple of thoughts have come up as I’ve spoken to a few business partners:

  1. You will always have a couple of people who want to have high numbers – and while that may appear good on the surface, make sure that they are not sacrificing unmeasured areas to make the measured numbers look good;
  2. Make sure that you’re using sound statistical calculations – when your numbers don’t appear to correlate to real life, there is a problem – don’t trust the numbers of themselves, make sure they make sense in real life. Have a good idea of what the numbers should be saying, and if there is a divergence between what is observed versus what is measured, be sure to reconcile those two – which might be to find a better way to measure the results, or that might be to come to the understanding that the measured results are more accurate;
  3. Have a combination of public and confidential metrics. That is, have a series of measurements which are published and discussed. These are areas where team members can strive to achieve and improve. Then hold a second set of metrics you use to measure your own management of these employees. Keep those measurements private. Do not disclose to the employees how you’re measuring in this area. Simply address problems as they occur, but kept your actual measurement system private;
  4. Your business goals, including customer service and profitable should be measured. Again, keep disclosed and undisclosed numbers.

Also, in the context above, everything is referencing “within the company” — an even smaller set of numbers (if any) should be published to the outside world.

Monitoring employee activity

i found you!A request that comes around a couple of times each year is a client who is looking to monitor the internet activity of their employees. I’ve been helping clients with this for years, but the first place we always start is the employee handbook: do you have a policy to permit your monitoring. Why you ask. According to the trial courts of California, your employees have an implied sense of confidentiality because they use a password on their computer. So, what can you do? A couple of options. One would be to amend your employee handbook. Another would be to have a written computer use policy. Beyond simply settings yourself up to monitor this activity, the mere fact that you publish this policy will be a strong deterrant to your employees.

So, what should you include in this policy…

  • The computer network, servers, computer and internet is the property of the company
  • Information created, stored or transmitted through the company network is subject to inspection and monitoring
  • Personal computer or other technologies, which are connected to the company network are subject to monitoring and inspection
  • There is no assumption of confidentiality for any activity taking place on company resources
  • The personal use of the company network is {discourage, prohibited, permitted}
  • The use of the company network for illegal activities, including p2p filesharing, is prohibited
  • Company harrasement policies include electronic forms
  • The company may backup, make copies or otherwise duplicate any information on any equipment connected to the company network
  • Management, at it’s discretion may monitor, track, log or otherwise review the use of the company network, including internet and e-mail activities.

As always, be sure to consult your business attorney before implementing a policy of this nature, as well as before taking any form of monitoring actions towards your employees. The illegal use of monitoring of employee activity may not only nullify any sort of disciplinary action, but may also open your company to legal action

Website tips, what works

What are you doing to make your website work for you? Here is a couple of tips I’ve picked up along the way, and we’ve implemented ourselves…

1) Get a website champion – someone who is really living the website, thinking about it in the shower, staying on top of what’s out there and going on. Let them try to become the leading website for your industry.

2) Use search friendly websites and blogs; does your developer know how to make a friendly website for search engines? What about your blog?

3) Outsource the development of your website, but don’t give up on point 1, you need your own internal website champion; they don’t need to know how it all works, but they need to have a vision;

4) Utilize both on-site and off-site blogs or other social networking tools (twitter, etc). A blog on your website is great, and essential, but you also need other reputable sources – so create an off-site blog. Get your staff into blogging on their own sites. If they’re professional related, consider sponsoring their own private blogs (i.e. pay for them to have their own domain name through a company like WordPress.com).

5) Create a regular posting schedule for both your regular website content and your blogs. Set calendar reminders, rotating staff schedules, whatever is appropriate, but keep content fresh and current. It doesn’t have to be multiple posts per day — just whatever you set yourself to, try and keep it regular. Once every other week is even fine, if you can maintain it.

6) Relevant, relevant, relevant — keep your posts relevant to your readers. Don’t post for the sake of posting, although you want to keep to some form of a schedule; but when you say something, have something to say. One trick is to get one-ahead. Use the advance publish tools to let you post for the following week – always post next weeks blog, and you’ll always have some grace room.

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