Harvard School of Public Health 2016


When I worked at Harvard, I worked as a User Services Technician. My job was to help ensure that students, staff, and faculty could continue their work uninterrupted by completing any repairs necessary as quickly and thoroughly as possible. When I was working there though, I saw some flaws in how we operated, flaws that I wanted to fix.

Harvard’s Equipment Issues

The IT Helpdesk team that I was a part of would often fix machines inside of our office. However, we didn’t always keep the best track of our inventory. There were times when a desktop was being worked on in the back, but we had no idea who was working on it or what the status of the machine was. Naturally, a user would be quite annoyed when we couldn’t give them a status update because we didn’t know which machine was theirs. In addition to that, our office was not well organised, and items such as flash drives, mice, keyboards, and cables were scattered around the office. As a result of all of this, we would waste time trying to identify machines in our back room as well as searching for the parts needed to complete repairs.

My Solution

I decided that a change was needed, I wanted our office to be more efficient. I reorganised our whole back office, so we could find parts much faster and save time. In addition to that, I also developed a new labelling system for our machines. For all machines, a sticker that contained the incident number, the technician responsible, the request date, and the status would be placed on all equipment under repair. This ensured that our team could always provide accurate updates to end users as well as quickly identify machines being dropped off/picked up.

Harvard’s Communication Issues

As a field team of about 8 people, we were always on the move helping out users in different locations throughout the school. Naturally, we would need to communicate with each other out in the field. We would communicate regarding urgent issues from a projector not working for a professor who had a lecture in 2 minutes, to a user who was ‘dead in the water’ and couldn’t complete their work.

We originally were using a system called Microsoft Lync(rebranded as Skype for business), but we experienced many problems with this system. For one reason or another, we would often miss messages of critical situations from our colleagues, and this naturally created a lot of issues. It was clear that a new system was needed, and so I started taking action.

My Solution

With the help of another intern at the IT Helpdesk, we researched and implemented a new communication system called Slack to our team. This system was originally rolled out as a pilot, but the pilot was a great success and this system was extended beyond just the Helpdesk, but to the entire IT staff of over 40 members.

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