Workplace IT gems?
January 10, 2006 8:40 PM   Subscribe

What technology practices in your workplace really seemed to make a difference?

What I am looking for is ideas for improving the office. I am the IT manager for a sales company and want to implement tools to make us more efficient and streamline the process.

What have been the best things to happen in your workplace in the last year that you'd like to share?
posted by keep it tight to Technology (12 answers total)
IP phones, while they have their downsides, simply made our lives easier. Our system emails us an MP3 file of our voicemail messages and has a company wide directory which can be called up easily on the phone's display. I'd imagine that may increase productivity for a sales company...
posted by ebeeb at 9:14 PM on January 10, 2006

This may be old hat, but I really love our "desktop fax" system. We receive faxes as email attachments and can send faxes as email attachments. I will often email myself important files so that I can fax them from my blackberry if I'm out of the office.
posted by mullacc at 9:35 PM on January 10, 2006

Instant messaging. I don't know how we lived without it. You can ask people questions when you're on the phone with someone else. Which is invaluable.
posted by smackfu at 9:43 PM on January 10, 2006

Simple things:

Standardized desktops - all the same. Makes it easy to maintain.

Buy from Dell (or other good vendor) - if you have hardware failures they will fix it and keep the parts the same. This means you can make images of machines and quickly restore if there are problems

Proper security - on the desktop, so people cannot mess with their machines

Image machines

Good auto AV

Good Spam filters

Backups - most problems are caused by users, not hardware failures.

I have written several docs on this - contact me for more info.
posted by bright77blue at 9:49 PM on January 10, 2006

If you allow users to customize their desktops, have a place on the network to store their options/preferences. Nothing aggrivates me more than having to change all my settings to how I like them when I have to switch computers.
posted by devilsbrigade at 10:14 PM on January 10, 2006

One-page, laminated, paper instruction manuals with idiot-proof, step-by-step instructions that are duct-taped to the hardware.

No, I'm serious. Do you have a conference room with a projector or a computer in it? I bet very often, someone wants to use the projector/computer and doesn't know how, so he goes and asks someone else. This disrupts everyone's workflow.

We have several conference rooms with shared equipment to be used by the meeting attendees, and there are instruction manuals fixed to everything, answering every conceivable "how do I..." question we can think of.
posted by frogan at 10:51 PM on January 10, 2006

Wiki Wiki Web(s) for sharing information and collaboratively working on documentation. Instiki is very easy to set up and use, although there are plenty of more advanced ones.
posted by Emanuel at 11:00 PM on January 10, 2006

Switch to available-everywhere tools. Junk your Act! installation and switch to NetSuite or Make sure webmail is available. Put as many administrative processes in the hands of the salespeople as possible instead of making them get permission to do anything.

Keep in mind that it's not just IT stuff that'll make things work, it's the actual processes behind the IT that matter.
posted by SpecialK at 11:13 PM on January 10, 2006

Webmail is HUGE. Make sure everyone's webmail comes configured with a copy of the employee directory (email directory, obviously).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:48 AM on January 11, 2006

This may sound silly, but digital pass key-cards. Access to my office at all hours without the hassle of locked doors/codes/keys/etc enables people to come in early and work late; meaning we can work when we want, and when we're most productive.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:17 AM on January 11, 2006

It hasn't happened in the last year, but if your workplace isn't wireless and have areas for people to work wirelessly [either in teams or alone], you're missing something. I haven't plugged into an ethernet cable in years and am more productive because I'm not chained to my noisy cubicle.

Of course, wireless must be secured but so does webmail and other suggestions above.
posted by birdherder at 1:56 PM on January 11, 2006

Having Linux on all the computers here at work has made is really great for streamlining workflows. Is there some sort of test you need to run regularly? Just script it in Tcl (or Python, or Perl) and have it test everything automatically.

Does the operating system not run how you want it to? Change the kernel yourself and everyone in the whole company benefits.

Open Source software has really alleviated any dependence on single vendors and has allowed people to become *very* productive.
posted by sirsteven at 9:47 PM on January 12, 2006

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