Friday, March 31, 2006

Jet Set Help Desk

If I had not taken this job, I would not enjoy the exclusive trips to the Royal Albert Docks and now Dublin, Ireland. Okay, I hear what you are thinking, not the most breathtaking destinations on the planet, but it is clocking up some miles on business. Even if somewhat modestly on Ryan Air and not quite British Airways Business Class. It is very important to go meet and great your clients, particular in my role, where I spend the majority of the time a faceless name on the end of the telephone. Also, carrying out some 'work' before the eyes of your customers is rewarding. When most of the time you are working remotely, in conjunction with IT departments all over the place.

I like getting out of the office, the change in scenery does me good. However, last week I was in the zone and closing calls for fun (almost) and really wanted to keep my finger on the pulse. The problem with these clients visits, most are unplanned or extremely last minute and there is often an urgency to provide a remedy for things you did not anticipate. You plan to fix five machines and soon discover, a table stacked with seven, with several other members of the office also experiencing difficulties with the software.

If I am honest, as I parked my car around 5am on Thursday morning, in London Luton airport car park, I hoped or rather prayed I would be able to resolve all the outstanding issues. There was always the feeling, a nerve at the back of my mind, that I would get stumped by various issues and have to call head office for help. Yet when we arrived at the offices, sometime after 9.30am, everything appeared to be going well. All machines we had been notified about where there, charging and I could start fixing them. My colleague would be the QC department and I scribbled down on the back of piece of paper all the issues as I came across them. It was going well. Too well in fact. After lunch, we had to clear up some configuration and confirm all the work carried out the previous week, was not a complete waste. Importing the data from the Access database into Excel met a side by side comparison could be made of what should and what is there. Thankfully everything checked out and it was down to the final checks of the administration machine to reload sales data. Then the machines were communicated once last time and the sales download confirmed. Then came to the final task of the day. Most companies have a head office person, a national manager if you will. In our case he had just come out of his meeting and was about to check the software on his laptop. All fine, I had checked it over and it was working now. No it was not. Attempting to run sales analysis report bought up a error. My colleague gave me a glaring look. I sat down at the desk and did not take my eyes of the screen. For a few minutes both my colleague and the client were overlooking my shoulder as I tried furiously to fix the problem. Repairing the software did nothing, registering various DLLs proved useless. What was the problem? I logged off and on with the local administration account and low and beyond it worked. Thank God. Now, how do I get this to work under the user profile which connects to a domain? My Windows NT knowledge is patchy to say the least. I was sweating, I was under pressure. The company PA popped her head around the door, to inform us our taxi was waiting outside. Great. I was under pressure and I had to get this done. Looking back, I live for moments like this. The adrenaline rush, that only another person with a great interest in technology would understand. You act on instinct and suddenly with every problem there are four or five possible remedies and you try a combination of them all to get the job done. Meanwhile I felt more concerned with my colleague, as the account manager trying to appease the client, prove this was a minor glitch and would be resolved before we left the building and country. We got there in the end, although it was touch and go for a few split seconds. As we got into the taxi, my colleague ripped off his tie and took a deep breathe as we took our seats on the black leather seats. The heart attacks are part of working life, particularly with bespoke software solutions, but I feel I earned my money yesterday. Was it worth going out and leaving the helpdesk to fend for themselves for a ten hours? It was, if only to put faith back into our ability to quickly respond to a potential disaster. Management will tell you that no business survives purely firefighting, I believe attending the odd fire does you the world of good. Everyone comes out alive, perhaps only me with my fingers burnt.

No comments: