28 August 2008

Targeting ITDept ++

Version française ici

At first sight, it may looks easy to be an IT Dept ++, but it depends where you place the ++.
Most of IT Department offer the same services to end users. To make a clear difference with a higher level, you have to give more for the same price ! Without promising impossible things to them… I decided to propose some « ++ » that’s are appreciated by our users, and that’s are not so much known.
Any propoal will be welcomed ! Please don’t hesitate !

Mail : Exchange 2003
All IT that have Exchange thinks they offer the maximum service user scan expect, but there are some small extras that make the difference!
· The clear minimum is having Outlook selfconfiguring at first launch.
· Customized the quota alert message. You will have to use a small free but unknown addon from Microsoft, Exchange quota Service. It allow us to translate the messages to french, which is better for our end users. We added tips for them too.
· Exchange 2003 doesn’t give a way to manage resources in standard, like room reservations. If you want to stop the recurring “We could under Lotus“, I recommend you to install another Microsoft addon, the auto accept agent. It manages conflicts, allows to invite room directly and prevent abuse.
· Install WDS to index the mailbox on workstation. Microsoft gives GPO templates to get it managed centrally. And it will keep your exchange servers cool !
· Activate weeks numbers on calendar through GPO.
· Give end users true others way to send attachments. Sharepoint allow an effective collaborative work, dl.free.fr allows to send attachment through Website, up to 1GB (no account needed).
· PST files have always been a problem. Either local but unsaved, either on a server but taking a lot of space. Ways are limited: addin Microsoft to sync pst between the workstation and the network, tell end users to burn files (--), or a true mail archiving solution like Enterprise Vault.

Users’ profiles

· Redirect « My Documents » folder. Nearly all software save documents there by default.
· A quota, yes, but managed the good and clean way through with proquota. User must knowns that he has a quota issue before trying to logoff!
· Your HelpDesk must never have to know user password, never. Instead, they have to know how to correctly do their job without needing it.
· No remote control wilderness. User acknowledge is mandatory.
· Use bginfo to set some useful informations on the wallpaper (helpdesk phone number, station’s name…), without replacing the baby’s photo on the wallpaper !

Fixed workstations
· Schedule a defrag once a month through MS SMS or the local task’s scheduler.
· Clean local roaming profiles that haven’t been used for XX days with delprof.exe from Microsoft.
· Protect the Bios with a password.
· Automate Windows and applications installation through WDS and MS SCCM 2007.


Nomads needs are often violating IT Dept. rules (What ? I am not allowed to install Call Of duty 4 while on holidays ?). It’s often hard to distinguish between a real true professionnal need and something more…Personnal. How to guess it out ? Don’t allow software installations, and don’t give DVD video player…If they are still interested in having notebook, then it’s a true need! Joke appart, here is my checklist :
· Set the entreprise web proxy with a wpad through dhcp. So IE will work outside.
· Wifi must works correctly with a standard account. Take a look at XP Service pack 3 to get WPA2 managed natively, or better, Windows Vista.
· Windows vista (SP1) is really a must for notebooks.
· You must provide the latest drivers, and all hibernate mode must works.
· HelpDesk must be able to help with remote control while the user is outside. The easiest way is something like LogMeIn, which works even through an hotel (The workstation is making the connection, so it get through NAT and firewall). Why not through your nice corporate VPN ? Because he may be calling about this damned VPN that doesn’t work ! Remote users are often doing powerpoint presentations or other things that make them stressed, so keep it dumb simple.
· 3G cards are quite good, but this type of network is not always available and is costly when roaming. Subscribing to hotspot is cheap and a true alternative.

Smartphone my love (Windows Mobile powered, of course)
As it can be a hot topic without users rewarding efforts made (“BlackBerry is better…”‘), it’s not easy to get the “++” stars.
· Enforce Edge by default. 3G is a black hole when it comes to battery, and brings nothing to mail/calendar/contacts synchro. Notice it can be worse, there is 3G++ (HDSPA) ! To reach the ++, add a « 3G » button in comm’ Manager (where you go to plane mode) with Advanced Config. This way, switching between Edge and 3G is really simple for end users.
· Make over the Start Menu.
· Manage the configuration with Microsoft Mobile Device Manager. More than 130 settings possible.
· Use client certificate for authentification. Say Goodbye to broken synchro after every password changes!
· Technical intervention (replacing sim card or phone) mustn’t impact the end user. Backup SMS or the whole smartphone before.
· Install Googlemaps, It’s free and great !
· Train users! One single euro or $ invested in training on smartphone will always be more profitable than running after the last model
· People that create image to deploy or manage smartphones must have one theirselves. This is mandatory. With Data subscribtion, of course.
· Having spare is not an option!

· For two sided printers, share them twice: One for one side prints by default, and one for two sided prints by default. This allow users to print in two sided mode without having to change parameters.
· Create a website to help end users to locate and connect printers.
· Block the manual tray, it’s a source of trouble.
· Block the tactile screen, it’s an incredible source of trouble
· Analyze issues on printers (HP WebjetAdmin is free). Replace the top 5 of printers with jam issues. Add paper tray to the top 5 of printers with no paper issue.
· Printers’ capacity given by manufacturer are higher than reality, change them before.
· If you can, send « low toner » alerts to people than know how to change them. Printing that goes out full of magenta because of a bad replacement always fall on a VIP !

Desktop files
· Offer a way to make efficient search: either appliance Google Search entreprise, either Sharepoint search.
· Install Microsoft Access Base enumeration. It allows to only display folders user can open, so users keep a clear view.
· If cleaning by users doesn’t work, choose a good archiving solution like Enterprise Vault for example.

Thanks for reading down to the end !

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