Tech SOPs

In the Winter of 2004, I began working in the IT Department of my university as a Student Technician. The IT Department had a core of 4 full-time staff and a rotating staff of 2-6 student technicians working only part time. Despite the best screening procedures in the hiring process, Student Technicians had wildly varying levels of competence in enterprise level technical procedures such as server backups, running Ethernet cables, and reinstalling Windows from a system image rather than a OS installation CD. Because of this, there was a low opinion of the IT Department among the faculty, staff, and students at the school. Not knowing whether or not the tech who would come to assist you was competent or not meant that problems were not reported until they were too far along to be solved by the Student Techs. That placed an unreasonable demand on the full-time staff because they had to spend their time fighting fires instead of improving the school's IT situation.

At the start of the 2005 school year, I was promoted to Senior Technician and began working on standardizing the training of incoming Student Techs. The first step to this was getting the vast wealth of knowledge in the full-time staff's head written down. Immediately, I began working with them to detail exactly, step-by-step how to accomplish each task. Over the course of the next 12 months, I wrote Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) detailing 15 basic IT tasks and then trained the incoming techs on how to follow them.

The end result was a dramatic rise in competence among the Student Technicians, resulting in a much better image for the IT Department among the faculty, staff, and students. It also freed the full-time staff to focus on the future of IT at the school rather than the day to day maintenance. That allowed us to upgrade our school's safe browsing filter and mail server, upgrade the desktops used by the faculty and most of the staff, and expand school WiFi coverage to nearly 100% of buildings.