Making people listen

I had a fun job this half term – I had to migrate SIMs from SQL 2008 to 2014 – as the next SIMs release doesn’t support it.

Unfortunately the timing wasn’t great, recently we have had a few issues – and in the middle of some staff doing reports via remote desktop.

The migration didn’t go to plan, and it resulted in a night of downtime, as I disabled the server to stop people somehow, magically, loose data (I knew it was impossible, but didn’t want to risk it!)

Being the holidays, it threw into light our ability to communicate with staff during the holidays, or even out of normal school hours when things go wrong. These days our systems, across all 5 schools are used pretty much at all hours, I have seen staff logged on till 1/2am – and some start again at 5/6am – I have seen staff logged in on christmas day!

Our ability, therefore, to communicate outages (particularly in holidays when we complete maintenance and I am loathed to send out all staff emails that many will not read and disregard – and therefore they can think they can do the same with more important future emails) is especially important.

Our school website is hosted externally by Vidahost, so we are able to set up a status page on there, to allow staff, students and even parents who use Insight, access to see any issues. The page, as well as letting us write updates, pings key services to check availability, a quick way for staff to see if it is us – or them!

After updating the page recently with a few issues, I decided to update the pages design, to simplfy it – http://www.st-bedes.worcs.sch.uk/parents-information/service-status/ and to remind the staff of its existance.

A lot of staff emailed me directly, bypassing even the helpdesk, and this is not helpful. Our aim is to provide fast and efficient support, to do this – my team need to see issues that are reported. People have holidays or specific tasks, that may mean they are not on the helpdesk, but there is always someone there managing it – if things are sent to me, they will be dealt with as and when I can, and normally just me forwarding them to the helpdesk.

I wonder in business if this would actually happen. School’s want, nay, need professional IT support to move things forward for them and get best value from the people they have there, that is why many are not outsourcing. When teams put in procedures and resources – we now need to work with staff to make sure they understand why they should use the systems, ultimately it means a better service to them.