Save Time with this New Employee Orientation Checklist

Have you ever had another manager in your company come running to you requesting a PC for a newly-hired employee who just started with the company?

This manager may not even have a place for their new employee to sit, but the employee won’t be productive until he or she has a working PC. Even though this emergency clearly is not your IT organization’s fault, you and your team still get blamed if you can’t deploy a PC immediately.

What’s worse is that the manager who failed to prepare for the new employee has created a morale problem within his own organization. Other employees are joking and talking among themselves about how poorly prepared the IT department is to onboard a new employee.

Don’t let this happen to you or one of your managers! Instead, take charge of the situation by organizing and preparing a Standard Operating Procedure to follow when a new employee joins your team.  To get prepared quickly and easily, use a New Employee Orientation Checklist.

Make the list, work the list

When it comes to setting up equipment for a new employee, there are several things you want to accomplish such as:

  • Getting a cube or office set up and ready for the employee to move in, including a working PC and a connection to a printer
  • Ordering equipment and supplies
  • Scheduling first day orientation sessions and a meeting with Human Resrouces for new employee paperwork
  • Introducing the employee to key components of the business
  • Bringing the employee up to speed on what’s going on within the company and the IT support organization
  • A quick tour of the building facilities

Using a checklist like the one I have used will help you start a new employee quickly and productively. As an added bonus, this checklist sets the tone that your organization is organized and focused.

Having a working PC on Day 1 is a big deal for employee morale, both for the new employee as well as your existing employees who see what’s going on.

Download the New Employee Orientation Checklist Here:

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Pat Vickers, Expert in Help Desk Management

Managing the dangers of IT support

Many years ago, when I was head of a regional IT support team for a very large corporation, I was asked to swap out a router card in one of our larger warehouses. Normally this would not have been a problem. We kept spare cards for all the routers and it was easy to schedule a 30-minute downtime while the work was done. However, this warehouse was different. For some reason, long before I took over support, the network center was installed in a box that hung from the ceiling, 30 feet up. To make physical changes, a tech had to stand in a cage while a forklift raised the cage to the top of the highest shelf. Once there the tech would step out of the cage and straddle an open area about three feet wide.

Fear versus Phobia

Some people refer to a fear of heights as a phobia. I think that is just wrong. Phobias are baseless fears. I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure falling from a 30-foot high rack to a concrete floor would have an adverse affect on my ability to keep the few brain cells I have left trapped in my head, not to mention what it would do to my limbs, neck, and spine.  I really did not want to change that card so I asked if any other team members were willing and got a volunteer right away. That might sound like problem solved, but the volunteer had a head, limbs, neck and spine as well, and even if he wasn’t worried about them, I was. I had no sleep the night before the scheduled change.

Research your Risks

The card change went off without a hitch and everyone laughed at me for being such a wimp, but I was not happy. As a team leader I felt like my first responsibility was to make sure that no one on the team was killed in the line of duty.  I know that sounds like an easy task, since we were in a suburban office building and fighting computer viruses instead of the Taliban, but when a regional manager demands people travel by fork lift, it becomes a problem. I needed to do some research.

Put Safety First

I found that, like all large companies, we had a corporate safety policy and we were not following it. I was able to arrange for special training in working in high places and safety gear. We still had to go up in the cage, but the cage was chained securely to the fork lift first. Also we got safety straps and hooks to secure us to the racks before we stepped out of the cage.   It made things a great deal safer.

What I learned from that experience is being prepared for potential danger and protecting your team is just as important for an IT manager as it is for beat cop. It may not come up as often but when it does you want to be ready. That’s true about everything in management. Few managers are prepared the first time an employee must be fired or when large numbers of assets are discovered missing.  We never forget a lesson we learn the hard way, but sometimes it’s better to learn from the experience of others. Mike Sisco has that experience and offers it to us in The Practical IT Manager Gold Series, 10 books can get an IT manager though any crisis. I highly recommend it to any and all IT managers. I also think it’s a great investment for the IT tech who would like to manage. IT’s never too early to learn to think like a pro and learn to lead a team practically.

What’s your danger zone?

Have you or members of your team had to deal with dangerous situations while trying to provide IT support? Post a comment below and tell us what you think about workplace dangers for IT professionals. Are your people at risk?

Update your security training with “Never click on any antivirus message EVER!”

IT managers of companies from county government offices to Fortune 500 companies have one very important thing in common: They employ humans. Sadly, no matter how much coaching and training and reminders we give users via email, Webinar, Web-based training, and PowerPoint presentations — sometimes they get it wrong. This is the story of one such user.

Ransomware strikes in 2013

I thought ransomware was relegated to mythical status, the Kraken of malware killed by the Perseus network perimeter operating system (PNPOS). But no. I got a call this week from a frantic user who said, “I got a message from AVG saying it found an infected file and to click here to remove it, and when I did, I got this weird screen saying the FBI had impounded my computer because of illegal activity, and I have to pay $500 to get the computer released!” Srsly.

Say what? I trotted myself down to the client’s office and sure enough, this user who should have known better had invoked a bad case of ransomware.  It said that if the user entered the numbers from a certain type of prepaid card, the computer would be released in 1 to 4 business days after that. (Y’right.)  My Emergency Repair Disks (ERDs) in hand, I rebooted and booted from CD and got error messages about a corrupt boot sector. I got to a command prompt and by DIR command there appeared to be data, but I couldn’t get devices recognized to copy files off. It was a mess.

Lesson Learned: Remind users about malware

We drilled a hole in the hard drive of that PC and configured a new one. This user was embarrassed because, frankly, she should have known better. It was hot, she was stressed, she clicked without thinking.  In big corporate network environments, we like to think it’s next to impossible for a user even to get a chance to enable malware. But if it gets through, someone will click on it.

Do you do periodic information security training with your users? If so, make sure that you remind users what you want them do if and when they counter suspicious emails or pop-up messages.  If you don’t do annual information security training for all users in your organization, start now. First, you can write a short email reminding All Users that if ever they see a message about “cleaning” or “removing an infected file” or the like, they should click on what? Class? Class? NOTHING! Remind your users to call the help desk if they get any suspicious email or pop-up messages on their work-provided computers.

Need a malware policy? Download our template as a free sample of our Ultimate IT Policy Toolkit!

If you don’t have a formal policy in place that tells users how you as IT manager are implementing antivirus solutions on your network, it may be hard to enforce violations of common sense IT policy, like, “don’t click on or download anything you weren’t expecting, even messages about infected files.”

The Malware Security Policy includes several rules that you can customize to define the malware policy for your organization. Here’s the rule that’s relevant to telling users what to do (and not to do) if they encounter malware:

Users must not attempt to eradicate computer viruses. If users suspect infection by a virus, they must immediately call the IT Department and refrain from attempting any type of troubleshooting on their own. Computer virus eradication must only be performed by authorized personnel who have been approved by the IT Department to do that work.

Download Toolkit Cafe’s Malware Security Policy Here!

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Have you dealt with ransomware?

If you or your users have encountered ransomware, share your experience by sending an email to [email protected] or by posting a comment below.


Assess your IT capability and capacity with our IT Employee Skills Matrix

If you’re the new IT manager or consultant on the block, one of the first things you should do in your IT organization is conduct an IT skills assessment. A key component of this discovery process, determining the capability and capacity of your IT staff, will tell you what your organization can do and how much it can do in terms of providing IT support.

Failing to understand the “supply side” of IT support makes it impossible to manage your client’s expectations and achieve IT success.

An IT employee skills inventory can be accomplished quickly and easily using a simple tool–an IT Employee Skills Matrix.

This simple tool helps you quantify the skills you have and quickly identify the skill gaps that exist so you can prioritize training and education for your team.

The tool is completely customizable to add any skill type you want to list as a need in your organization, from soft skills like communication or presentation skills to very specific technical skills like Cisco router configuration or Crystal Reports writing.

Click here to download Mike’s Employee Skills Matrix


Quick steps:

  1. List your employees by name and responsibility in the first two columns. I like to group them by function (Programmers, Help Desk, PC Techs, etc.) so I can focus on each group.
  2. List the skills you need on your team in the columns at the top. You can be as specific or as general as you want. You should also list both technical and non-technical skills.
  3. If you have conducted an IT assessment, you should have gained a perspective as to how many resources you need for specific skills. If you haven’t done an assessment, now is a good time to look at it. Insert a row at the top of the template and call it “IT skills needed”. For each skill, put the number of people you think need to have this skill.
  4. Now, do your inventory. Work through each employee and put the number “1” in each cell reflecting he or she has the skill.
  5. The Total Row at the bottom will keep a running total of the total number of people you have in place with each skill.
  6. The GAP Row highlights where you lack sufficient number of people with each skill.

You can conduct an IT employee skills inventory quickly with this tool. You can use the results to assist in managing your support business. Even better, this assessment provides insight on where you have skills gaps so you can focus training or new hiring to address mission critical skill gaps.

Download Mike’s Employee Skills Matrix for Free!

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Software Review: Recuva saves the day when files get deleted

Recently a friend of mine called and asked if I could help him recover some files that he said were “accidentally deleted” from his laptop.  “Don’t worry,” I said, “as long as you haven’t added or deleted anything else, there’s a good chance we can get them back.”

It’s been a while since I had to solve this kind of problem, and I wondered whether people were still using old-style “UNDELETE” utilities.  I was doubting whether my friend would be able to remember the first letters of the names of the deleted files.

I asked, “So how many files are we talking about?”  My friend said he loaned the laptop to a former girlfriend, and she took it upon herself to delete ALL of the videos and ALL of the photo files that she could find on the entire laptop. Then she emptied the Recycle Bin, deleted some more files, and emptied it again.

That testimony made me cringe.  So I called a friend who works as a User Support Analyst III in a big IT shop and asked what’s the latest-greatest in UNDELETE utilities, and he recommended “Recuva.” I’m sharing this story because I’m now officially hooked on Recuva.

Where to get it
You can get the free version of Recuva here. It’s a quick download with a small footprint, and comes with 32-bit and 64-bit versions.  I copied the program files to a CD, put the CD in the laptop and launched Recuva. (By the way, Recuva works on any storage device, such as a thumb drive or camera.)

On the first pass, Recuva found several hundred files in just a few minutes. However, before I recovered those files, I ran Recuva again using the “Deep Scan” option.  This time, the program ran for 30 minutes or so and found many thousands of files.  I plugged a high-capacity USB drive into the laptop and told Recuva to recover the files to the USB drive.

How it works
Here’s what the screen look like as Recuva wizard runs. First it asks where were the files that were deleted?


Next Recuva wants to know what type of files you want to recover. Everything – or just picture, music or other files.


This screen shot shows what I think is one of the most useful features–the State column, which tells you whether the file can be recovered.


Here’s the screen you want to see, showing that the file or files you wanted were fully recovered (and none were “partly recovered”).


Free vs. fee

I used the “free” version of Recuva to help my poor friend get his files back. While that version works just fine, it was a little cumbersome sorting and marking the files I wanted to keep. I imagine that the pay versions, around $32 for the Professional “home” version and around $44 for the business version, provide some enhanced capabilities for managing the retrieved-file list.  Recuva is available for Microsoft Windows 8, 7, Vista, XP and 2000, including both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

I now keep a copy of the free version on CD in my toolkit so I’m ready to be the hero on a moment’s notice the next time one of my dumb users friends accidentally deletes a file or two or three thousand!

Have you used Recuva? If so, please add your comments below and let us know what you think.

Round Up Them Telecommuters!

Managers, don’t let your telecommuters grow up to be cowboys! Or, to put it another way, before you start letting people work from home, you need to train them. Telecommuters need to know all the requirements and obligations – legal, financial and technological — that come along with the privilege of the work-from-home gig. The telecommuting employee should be trained in the following:Telecommuting Toolkit for IT - BIG

1. Understanding and completing the requisite paperwork.
2. Setting aside a dedicated workspace at the telecommuting location.
3. Ensuring adequate privacy and security for the workplace
4. Correctly installing the hardware, drivers and software required
5. Maintaining data and network security
6. Coordinating with other employees, attending necessary meetings in person or online

If you don’t want to create Training for Telecommuters from scratch, check out the Telecommuting Toolkit for IT, which includes a template Power Point Presentation you can customize to train your employees looking to move to a telecommuting arrangements.