Unit 28 IT Support for End Users

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To enable learners to perform user support tasks and to provide training materials for users and user support staff.

Unit abstract

As the number and variety of systems used by management, administration and other non-IT professionals grows, and as organisations become increasingly dependent upon these, the need to provide efficient, effective and consistent support to the users of these systems becomes paramount. Computer users need appropriate training and support in order to be able to make best use of the systems available to them. As problems will inevitably occur, they also need access to knowledgeable and sympathetic staff within a formal framework of support. This is often via a help desk which, depending on the complexity of the problem, may provide direct assistance, remote support or refer to further expert support. Learners will begin this unit by looking at how to analyse a reported problem and provide user support. This can be in the context of the problem and also in preventive training. Learners will evaluate how problems affect user productivity. Learners will then deliver appropriate user support, both by remote means and in person. They will design and apply methods of monitoring and documenting user support activities. Finally, learners explore user support planning including production of user manuals, training courses, and plans for system maintenance and disaster recovery.

Learning outcomes

1 Understand user problems

  • Analysis of problem: incoming incidents; problems; change requests; identifying user requirements eg accessing user computer systems (remotely or at the desktop), user description; using software tools; human factors eg appreciation of user frustration, appropriate communication techniques
  • Types of problem: technical problems eg hardware (compatibility, failure, degradation, configuration), software (compatibility, failure, corruption, configuration), system capacity problems, transmission problems (cables, switches, routers), connectivity problems (internet, other systems, printers, shared resources); continuous; user created; system changes (automatic updates, installed patches)
  • Response: support levels, methods of supporting a user eg immediate response, advice on access to manuals, help systems, obtaining additional support
  • Evaluation:estimations of system downtime and reduction in user productivity

2 Be able to provide user support

  • Incident recording: details eg customer name, problem, date and time of call, response, action taken, time taken to resolve problem; media to store details eg paper, software; support materials consulted eg manuals, guides, multimedia, courses
  • Fault diagnosis: tools eg remote fault diagnosis, third-party utilities; record tests carried out, advise on corrective action, confirm problem has been solved
  • User support: remote; in person; incidents eg software update, device driver installation, reconfiguring network card, adding memory chips; change of motherboard; installing new hard drive

3 Be able to create user support programmes

  • User support manual: troubleshooting eg logging on, accessing the network, email, browser issues, printer problems, viruses, mobile access; accessing software eg office, company bespoke.
  • User training:identifying training needs; IT policy (email, web, software installation);.security; applications; routine maintenance.
  • Support planning: upgrading/replacement of existing system hardware/software, infrastructure (backbone, routers, switches, cabling, WAPs).
  • System maintenance: preventative, predictive, remedial; routine maintenance eg backing up, cleaning, virus scan, defragmentation, removal of temporary files, password policies.
  • Recovery plans: hardware failure (workstation, server), natural disaster, power failure, major loss of data, security breaches, restoring data.


Beisse F – A Guide to Computer User Support for Help Desk and Support Specialists, International
Edition (Course Technology, 2009) ISBN-10: 1439042055
Bruton N – How to Manage the IT Help Desk: A Guide for User Support and Call Center (Computer
Weekly Professional) (Butterworth Heinemann, 2002) ISBN-10: 0750649011
Gookin D – Troubleshooting and Maintaining Your PC All-in-one Desk Reference for Dummies (Wiley, 2009) ISBN-10: 0470396652
McRae K, Marshall G – Computer Troubleshooting: The Complete Step-by-step Guide to Diagnosing and Fixing Common PC Problems (Haynes & Co, 2008) ISBN-10: 1844255174
Sanchez A – Technical Support Essentials: Advice to Succeed in Technical Support (Beginner to Intermediate) (CA Press, 2010) ISBN-10: 1430225475
Wooton R – Building and Running a World Class IT Help Desk (McGraw Hill, 2001) ISBN-10: 007213237X



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