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What Do You Do for New User Orientation? 97

An anonymous reader asks: "What do you do for new user orientation? I started at a company as part of a very small help desk / MIS department. Part of my job is to give orientation to all new computer users for the entire company (no more than 10 new users a week). Right now I have to sit with each user, go over logging in, passwords, email, outlook, Microsoft Office, and so on. This takes between 30-45 minutes. What do other IT departments do? I was thinking of a Flash presentation or website, and maybe even a short orientation movie. What ideas have you tried and how well did they work?"
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What Do You Do for New User Orientation?

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  • But it takes some time to
      - prepare (scenario and stuff)
    and more importantly
      - keep up to date

    I know, I've done that for a product presentation. After one year, new version, throw away the presentation, start over again...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by PRC Banker ( 970188 )
      I know, I've done that for a product presentation. After one year, new version, throw away the presentation, start over again...

      I agree that multimedia is good, but it's not the only thing to have. I've been giving and receiving presentations for a few years, and a good video is really useful. More useful, however, is a paper copy containing all of the key points. Paper can be picked up and browsed at one's leisure, it can be pinned next to the desk (quite useful for new users learning how to log-in)
    • It really doesn't need to take that long. At my work place, we use Camtasia [] all the time to produce tutorials. I can do a 1 minute tutorial in about 10 minutes (including producing as a Flash movie). When I'm dealing with about 100 instructors, none of which have the same schedule so they can't show up for training on a new technology, this is the fastest and easiest way to train them all at their own leisure.
      • by tetrode ( 32267 )
        Indeed. 1:10 is our experience as well for smallish presentations. For big ones there is more clean up to do, you record it in parts, do the voice afterwards, add some music here and there. The 1:10 will go to 1:20 then.

        The average presentation we do for clients is between 2 hour and 3 hours of which 1 hour can be product presentation. We make call center software and when a client is really interested and wants to see all sides of the product, I can easily spend 1.5 hours.

        In a recorded presentation you wan
    • Can you recommend tools for Linux and Windows, preferably free (as in beer)?

      I'd like to produce some demos for my friends and coworkers a la the outstanding Slime video you can find on this page [].

      Some programs provide a very powerful working environment but leave new users wondering, "How am I supposed to use these features to get something done?" A video is the best answer.

      video : big powerful program :: code examples : big complex API

  • Large turnover (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @08:27AM (#17749986) Homepage Journal
    Maybe you are swaming them with stuff they don't need.
    Large numbers of new users every week can mean immense expansion or they are really put of by your new user orientation meetings.

    If its turnover, perhaps it would be easier to skip the email/office stuff until they need it.
  • New Users (Score:3, Insightful)

    by notaspunkymonkey ( 984275 ) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @08:28AM (#17749990)
    The Company I work for try to bunch together new joiners and run a full 1 day computer introduction training session in one of our dedicated training rooms, on their second day (with first day being the usual this is your team, this is the fire regs etc). New Joiners get the benefit of meeting other people starting at the same time as them - and then get the run through on how our systems work - with more structured training for specific applications they may have to use carried out later that week. Its fairly informal but also gives us the chance to go properly through our computer use policy etc. we are finding that fewer people need these intro's as time progresses, however you still get the odd person who is mystified by the whole thing.
  • by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @08:29AM (#17750000) Journal
    It involves duct tape, Vaseline, five rolls of toilet paper and the trunk of a mini-cooper.

    But we don't call it "orientation", we call it "hazing".

    • and coincidently... extremely high turnover rates.

      Not that it's a bad thing in your scenario.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by phunctor ( 964194 )
      First I orient them in a generally inverted position, suspended by one ankle over the edge of the observation deck. Then, when I begin to actually believe their frenzied promises to RTFM, I re-orient them to a feet-down, head-up position and send them on their way. Help desk calls are down 87%, possibly due to the unfortunate slippage rate amongst those who fail to convince me that they will in fact RTFM. -- phunctor "mmmm, crack!"
  • by Centurix ( 249778 ) <centurix@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday January 25, 2007 @08:29AM (#17750002) Homepage
    I sit them in front of a computer, don't tell them anything and I poke them with a stick if they do something wrong.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by BrokenHalo ( 565198 )
      Actually, given the small amount that most new users manage to retain from those quickie orientation sessions, that might not be such a bad policy.

      Better would be a quick session to show users how to logon, and present them with a simple printed booklet to cover details. This has the double advantage of being much easier to maintain than a Flash presentation, as well as usually being easier to process mentally.

      I know there are many who might throw up their hands in horror when I say this, but for all that
      • by daeg ( 828071 )
        Not to mention it is hard to take notes inside a Flash presentation or orientation video.

        A small printed manual, however, will let people take notes, draw doodles, and vent their anger toward the damn booklet instead of you.

        Note that I said SMALL. People don't want a 300pg binder unless the job actually calls for one!

        We do something similar here, although I've turned the book into a small Wiki. While I do have to edit and revise any edits people make (for clarity, spelling, formatting and so forth), they ar
  • by PalmerEldritch42 ( 754411 ) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @08:30AM (#17750006)
    Unless you want to spend a lot of money putting together a professional and engaging presentation, don't bother with that route. I am not a manager, but I have been to enough new employee orientations that I feel I have a good understanding of what works (at least for me). Sitting a new employee down in a room and making them watch some presentation, be it on DVD or online is pretty much a waste of time. The thing that a new employee needs is face time. Sit with them and show them what they will be doing. Sit them with their co-workers and let them show him what, exactly, the job entails. Orientation is about gettin gto know your peers, learning about the company you will be working for, and finding out what the job is that you have been hired for. There is always the obligatory legal issues (dress code, no bad language in the workplace, no molestation of the opposite sex, and whatnot). But the important thing is to get a feel for the new environment and find out what you are being hired to do in a more specific way than the interview process would have lead you to believe.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      There is always the obligatory legal issues (dress code, no bad language in the workplace, no molestation of the opposite sex, and whatnot).

      Do you mean that your office lets you molest the same sex? Sign me up!
      • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

        dress code : Pink
        no bad language: Gay is off the list, fist fuck is ok.
        no molestation of the opposite sex : Sign me up.
    • by Eivind ( 15695 )
      There is always the obligatory legal issues (dress code, no bad language in the workplace, no molestation of the opposite sex, and whatnot).

      There is ?

      You guys hire as *employees* people that aren't yet done with primary-school ?

      Is this a US-thing ? That employees are to be treated as pre-school idiots ? Is basic normal human behaviour not among the things you would expect from someone *before* even considering hiring them ?

      I've had like half a dozen different jobs (not counting smaller short-time s

      • I've not come across dress codes or language "training," but non-discrimination training or anti-discrimination training are very common at large organizations in the US. There are still a few people out there who do have unacceptable ideas of what is humorous or otherwise appropriate in a workplace with regard to these matters. However, it's mostly a cover-your-ass move -- when someone does file a lawsuit for harassment, the company can be liable if they're found to have fostered an environment conducive
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Eivind ( 15695 )
          I guess so, comes down to your silly system of liability once again I guess.

          If someone behaves in an unacceptable way towards you at work, and you notify your supervisor about this -- but nothing happens -- then I agree it's reasonable to hold the company responsible.

          But there's a long way from that and to require companies to hold "sensitivity training" or similar stupidity to avoid liability for what is clearly not their fault.

          It also seems to me the US workplace is amazingly intolerant. Personal ex

      • I think it's common in a lot of businesses to assume the employees are either idiots, or thieves. When I was in University, I applied to quite a few retail jobs, and have the questions they ask you, either through an online questionaire or at the interview have to do with whether or not you will steal from them. They assume right from the get-go that you're going to steal from them. With a lot of office jobs (mostly for larger organizations) everyone is required to take sensitivity training to ensure they
      • by lewp ( 95638 )

        Is this a US-thing ? That employees are to be treated as pre-school idiots ?

        Yes. It's what you get when you live in the most retardedly litigious society in history. Every little thing has to be spelled out to the letter, and no leeway can ever be given, lest somebody should get fired for not using common sense and try -- and probably succeed -- to strike it rich with a lawsuit.

        Of course, the fact that you're likely to encounter a few pre-school idiots in any reasonably sized working environment might have

        • by Eivind ( 15695 )
          There's idiots in Norway too. (quite a few, matter of fact)

          Thing is, if some idiot behaves unacceptably towards me at work, I'll first simply tell him: "I don't accept that behaviour, please stop it." (it's not that hard!)

          If that didn't work, I'd talk to my supervisor: "I've got this problem with [idiot] -- he keeps doing [thing] even though I find that unacceptable and have clearly said so to him."

          Which would result in [idiot] getting a stern talk with the supervisor, perhaps even a written warning,

  • Set up a wiki (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Max Romantschuk ( 132276 ) <> on Thursday January 25, 2007 @08:30AM (#17750010) Homepage
    A wiki is probably the most flexible way to set up something like this. It can serve both as an introduction (think pages linked one after another) and as a general documentation tool.

    And unlike a flash presentation it's searchable and less of a pain in the rear end to update.

    PS. Wikis can be read only for regular users too...
    • I would steer against this idea.
      Your new users need something quick simple and effective.
      They have office, so could create an effective powerpoint (or equiv) presentation going over the basic requirements.

      I would be against giving them access to the intranet before they know whats expected of them.

      A web browser is not the right tool for training (easy to browse elsewhere...)
    • Re:Set up a wiki (Score:4, Insightful)

      by simm1701 ( 835424 ) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @08:38AM (#17750058)
      and get the new starter to expand on the wiki anything they found the wiki did not explain well enough for them, after they have learnt it the hard way

      I did the same after starting here - added a wiki page of all those things I wished I had known during the first few weeks here (new company, new country) so jotted them down to try and save the same pains for anyone who joined after me. A few other brit contractors have already sent me an email thanking me for putting it together
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Until some vandal (inside the company* or outside) finds your wiki and has your employee jumping up and down in a grass skirt on the top of his cubicle screaming at the height of his lungs "ITS A TRAP! ITS A TRAP! THE LAWNMOWERS ARE PLANNING A REBELLION AGAINST US! WE WILL SERVE TO EVERY ONE OF THEIR GREASY, SHEERING-INDUCED WHIMS!"** Wait, that might be a good way to preemptively screen for people who don't have the balls, foresight and brain power to determine if an idea is bad or not, even if its an
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jascat ( 602034 )
      And what average user is going to go dig in a wiki? They don't want to go find the answer for themselves. They want to and will call the helpdesk if it is available. Trust me, I know. Tried a similar approach.

      On a side note, orientation isn't going to do anyone good unless it really grabs people's attention and a movie or flash is just going to put them to sleep. They don't care! I have to do all sorts of annual training for my job, from fire extinguishers to information assurance, all of which I click or
      • And what average user is going to go dig in a wiki? They don't want to go find the answer for themselves. They want to and will call the helpdesk if it is available. Trust me, I know. Tried a similar approach.

        Didn't read my commend, did you?

        A wiki can serve as a superset of an introduction. You can set up a linear set of pages to serve as an introduction. No digging needed.

        I do second that it's hard to motivate people to actually go through an introduction, but if the job requires a formal introduction I th

  • Swim or drown (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Zombie ( 8332 ) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @08:39AM (#17750072) Homepage
    We give our new guys a laptop and tell them to install it. If it's not running Debian smoothly by the next day, we fire them. What they use for office, mail, web, chat - whatever, is their own business.
    • Your ideas are intriguing to me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
    • So that's 1hrs work, 7hrs doing whatever I like? Are you guys hiring?
    • I just give my users a Stage 1 Gentoo install. If they don't have KDE up and running by the end of the day, they're gone.

      In all fairness, a 'test' like what you suggested is a good idea. I work at a large defense contractor, and I have a good idea why it costs $500 for a hammer. 'Software Engineers' that can't grasp basic concepts like source control. One told me that instead of using this complex subversion, we should just pass around tarballs of our source code. Another person brought on to administ

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by biglig2 ( 89374 )
        Weaklings! I give my users a bucket of sand, and if they haven't build a 486 laptop from it by the end of the day, we kill them and eat their livers.
        • what, no slashing in two with a bread knife and dancing about on their graves?
          • by biglig2 ( 89374 )
            Yes, I was tempted too, but I fear that if I reference the Four Yorkshiremen sketch then some idiot will comes along and say "I love Monty Python".

            And then I'd have to go and eat David Frost's liver because it's his fault that almost none of "At Last the 1948 Show" still exists, and you just know it's not going to taste very nice.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by bplipschitz ( 265300 )
          Weaklings! I give my users a bucket of sand, and if they haven't build a 486 laptop from it by the end of the day, we kill them and eat their livers.

          . . .with a nice Chianti.

          • by biglig2 ( 89374 )
            You know, I looked that up once, and a nice Chianti is just the right wine to serve with liver....
      • by lewp ( 95638 )
        One told me that instead of using this complex subversion, we should just pass around tarballs of our source code.

        Passing around tarballs sounds silly until the only other option is Subversion.

        • Passing around tarballs sounds silly until the only other option is Subversion.

          Either you're joking, or you're lazy. Subversion is relatively easy to learn and certainly easier than trying to keep a bunch of tarballs in sync. Heck, everything you need to know about Subversion is in the very well written book, Version Control with Subversion []. Once you've read it and understood how to work with Subversion, then tell me which is easier.

          • by lewp ( 95638 )
            Actually, it was more a crack that Subversion sucks. Of course, being "mysqlrocks", I don't expect you to recognize shit when you see it.
            • Actually, it was more a crack that Subversion sucks.

              Yes, I knew what you meant. My point was that Subversion doesn't suck. It would be interesting to hear your specific complaints with it other than "it sucks". My guess is that your complaints are based on a lack of knowledge about basic version control practices and not actually any issues with the software itself. That's why I suggested you read the book I linked to.

              • by lewp ( 95638 )
                Or maybe I just think darcs, arch, monotone, or -- hell, if you have to have some relationship with svn -- even svk (I don't know anything about BitKeeper since there are lots of adequate free solutions and everywhere I've worked has used CVS or; now, unfortunately, SVN) are a hell of a lot better. SVN is CVS "done right", which is still version control done wrong, and it has its own problems on top of CVS'.

                If you must have specifics, the thing that bothers me the most is that you have to run a merge before
                • If I'm hearing you correctly, it sounds like we simply have a difference of opinion on which is better, centralized or decentralized version control. I can see the benefits of both, but my general preference is centralized version control. With Subversion (a centralized version control system), the code in your repository is what's most important, and your working copy is simply a temporary work space. Before you start working, you run an update to make sure you've got the latest stuff from the repository.

                  • by lewp ( 95638 )

                    You get the point, but don't seem to think it's a problem. BK puts it more eloquently than I would (of course, they're trying to sell you something):

                    Subversion loses information every time there is parallel development because you are forced to merge before you check in if someone else checked in first. The state of your workspace before the merge is lost forever. Another way to say this is that if there is N-way parallel development, Subversion loses N-1 events.

                    Maybe you don't think that's a big deal. Th

                    • Like I said, when using Subversion your working copy is only a temporary workspace. You merge the repository version into your local copy before you do a commit. As far as merges go, you don't have to use Subversion's merge tool if you don't trust it - you can do a diff and manually pick which changes to keep. Yes, technically the state of your workspace before the merge is "lost forever". But, even with decentralized version control you still need to do a merge at some point. If it's so important to have t
                    • by lewp ( 95638 )

                      You certainly wouldn't argue that there is anything better than Subversion for centralized version control?

                      Dunno. All I have to compare it against inside your narrow little corridor is CVS, so maybe it's the best of what I would contend is an inherently bad design. Lots of folks have nice things to say about Perforce, though, so maybe not.

  • Various things (Score:3, Insightful)

    by digitalhermit ( 113459 ) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @08:51AM (#17750132) Homepage
    "Buddy" programs can be effective. Have the newbie work with another employee to teach them the basics such as how to access the important intranet sites, where to rent projectors, good eating spots, how to change/reset passwords, etc.. Presentations don't seem too useful, and are probably driven more by HR's CYA policy than anything (i.e., an ethics class is mandatory so people know what they can't do).

    That's closer to ideal.. In reality most people get an email. I've heard that a near one-on-one instructor/student training class is optimal.... I've also heard that there's a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow. I'm still waiting for both.
  • Why not gather all new users and have one presentation for all of them (once a week or something), instead of sitting down with each one?

    • Why not gather all new users and have one presentation for all of them (once a week or something), instead of sitting down with each one?

      That only works if the flow of new employees is sufficiently large. Otherwise once a week is too often... They did this on a former job of mine. By the time the orientation came along I knew everything already. Orientation only works if you're disoriented ;)
    • Thats a good idea if they all start on Monday morning but HR seems to avoid logical decisions like this. So you could feasibly have someone sat at a desk for up to 4 days without any training.
  • about how he "lost his lifes work and will probably get fired because he didn't listen to the IT guy."
  • I don't give any training in office applications or on the OS that they are using. I do have a ~ 20 page booklet that I give each new hire for intructions on using our rather antiquated ERM software, but that's the only real training they get. If they need help on more basic practices, I help them when they need it and when I feel like it.
  • We sit them on a chair and spin it fast for about 30 seconds... no wait that's dis-orientation.

    Seriously we have a one sheet document with all the basics like logging in, email, internet and so on. We go through this with them at their PC to make sure they understand. They receive one-to-one training for any specialist software and we are always happy to talk them through the basics of Office.

    My 2 cents for what it is worth is not to over-complicate things, keep it short, give them some basic quick refere
  • Make them learn Chinese?
  • "Here's your computer, login details. No porn. You can game or blog at lunchtimes. Have fun."

    I wish :)
  • I happen to know of an IT department at a big company that does nothing for new user orientation. That's right - nothing. Oh, and there seems to be an unwritten department rule that new hires aren't allowed to touch a computer for the first two weeks.

    I'll leave as an exercise for the reader to explain why someone who has been working there for 6 weeks still cannot check their voice mail...

    • That's just about how things are at our company. When a new user arrives and he gets new hardware we only show her/him how to do the basic stuff when she/he asks for it.
      Only a while ago did new users get a internet and telephone rulebook and that's the closest they got to written documentation.
      Thanks to this question and the fact I've got to do a network migration I started a draft on a user guide just now. I hope the finished version will save us plenty of dumb newbie questions.
    • I started work six weeks ago at one of the largest software companies in the world (actually, I'm pretty sure it's /the/). Yeah yeah yeah.

      I have the joy of being (in my team), the only one of twenty PMs without a notebook (handy, when the entirety of my job is meetings and such. I have to use paper. Even more hilarious, yesterday the PMs twice-weekly meeting. Twenty people, nineteen of them with notebooks. Me peering over someone's shoulder and scribbling furiously on my paper.)

      And then there's the lack o

  • You pretend something they did caused the main production server to crash, and see how they handle it (so you know what to expect in case that really does happen)!
  • I work at a college, and I'm looking into using our Course Management Software (we use Blackboard, but there are Free alternatives) for some of our training. That allows for interactive lessons, testing, etc. and the person can go back and reread what they like later on.

    Check out moodle.

  • There are some good suggestions here. I think I'll replace my current procedure (First stupid question is free, second question is $20, third question and you'll have to face the Rancor.)
  • We give them a copy of the appropriate policies, go over a brief overview of those policies, show them how to access the extensive CBT library we've created, and explain why security has tazers, extendable batons, pepper spray, and guns. Then, we send them on their merry way with a firm reminder what happens to people do things they are suppost to with data they have access to.

    God, I love IT in the Healthcare setting.

  • Geeks and businessmen... You can always rely on them to walk 9 seas and mountains but find a replacement for good ol' human contact.
  • by hirschma ( 187820 ) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @10:14AM (#17750972)
    New hires at my old company were given a cheapo desks and chairs that required assembly. This applied to everyone from the receptionist to my most senior hires.

    They were shown to their new spot, given the tools, and told that this was their first order of business. That was all.

    Nearby employees were told to offer any and all assistance, but only if asked.

    This worked on many levels. It was symbolic of the philosophy at the company. For some, it ended up being a "team-building" exercise, or a social ice-breaker. For others, it showed that they were clever and self reliant. Some folks couldn't get it done, and refused to ask for help. This almost always signified termination at their first opportunity. And the .com type investors loved it, too :)

    • I just was hired at a small software development company doing help desk related work. My boss shows me my office, where there is a desk, chair, and a pile of computer and supplies. He says "Cut a hole in the wall, put in the Ethernet jack, and then set up your computer.

      I'm on my 4th day, and its good so far.
  • We have a ritual: We get out the trucks and let the new folks run down the almost-ready-to-retirees. Makes the day go a whole lot better, and we save money!

    Good times... good times...
  • I usually have them executed;P. Actually, I have never handled new user orientation, but I have worked at Universities for a long time. The support group for the appropriate consituency (faculty/staff, students) has a booklet, several forms, and a CD they hand out. The users are supposed to read the booklet, sign the forms that they have read the booklet and will abide by University computer usage guidelines, and watch the animation on the CD. Then they are supposed to install the antivirus and email clien
  • We get a new user every couple of weeks so it's a low priority for us. I usually try to give them a single page facts sheet containing their login, important file server paths, how to access webmail offsite, and IT's contact information. We then spend a very little time doing things like opening up Outlook, talking about any special programs they'll be needing and what they'll need to do to get access to them. We've been looking at putting some of the generic information online, but unfortunately, differ
  • I assumes that phrase includes showing them how to do the 'ol Ctrl-Alt-Del, right? And where the Big Red Switch is (in case that doesn't help)?

    I'm (mostly) kidding of course. They should already know that. On the other hand, I still recall the time when I had to sit down and show a person (at the small company that I was working for at the time as a VMS and UNIX admin) how to use Word headings and automatically create a table of contents of a document. (It was sort of like showing fire to a caveman.) She

  • New Employees (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wonkavader ( 605434 ) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @11:08AM (#17751886)
    New Employees need:
        To know things (rules, passwords, techniques, etc.)
        To feel things (comfort with the people around them, a small sense of 'at home')

    If you get the second one, the first will take care of itself. Spend time with the person. Actual "Face" time. Teach them something (anything) about the company, so they get in the learning mode -- they'll pick up a lot in between the lines of any topic you pick. Make the rules of the company (dress codes and crap like that) as small a part of the conversation as possible, but provide them with a document on it. Play the rules down. You want them to feel free, so that they'll talk and learn and grow on their own.

    Take 'em to lunch. Do it as a small group -- not necessarily the whole team, but more than just Boss and hire. Get them to be social and see people around them as lunch partners.

    Then GIVE THEM A TASK WHICH WILL REQUIRE COMMUNICATION WITH THE GROUP. After they've got plugged in, the assimilation process will take care of itself.

    The idea that you'd want to give them a movie or something suggests that you're not interested in spending time talking with people. I don't want to work at your company.
  • First, I show them how to use Outlook. Then I email them a picture of my ass, and tell them to get used to kissing it.
  • At my company I had to beg to be notified of new hires before their first day. Sometimes they still show up on the first day and I have no idea who they are, and no one even knows where they are supposed to sit.

    I made a PDF full of nice big screenshots and labels as a reference for using remote access and webmail. I print it out for each new employee and offer to review it with them. No one wants the review, most people throw out the reference.

    This would be fine except they're not doing it because they are
    • by westyx ( 95706 )
      "I charge $100 an hour, minimum one hour, billed in hourly increments, for all calls on weekends which are covered in the orientation paper I have just handed to you. This will be automatically billed from your pay. See you tomorrow!"
      • by rbanzai ( 596355 )
        That's awesome. I could finally generate some revenue for my department... by leeching off of dumbness!
  • a blind fold and a mary-go-round .. weee..
  • If experience is any indication at the sites I've worked at recently, IT does very little orientation (and then gets to pay for it later).

    Avoid anything computerized. New users may not be able to view wikis or movies, etc. especially if they don't yet have an account or have not been told how to access it.

    I use a plain paper employee guide which describes everything and provides sufficient information to use all services (email, Unix, Windows, voice mail). I print a copy and give it to new hires. (Altern
  • I work as a helpdesk/support technician in an IT-based company. The majority of our employees are contracted by Nortel for either customer support or documentation services. Most of them have a basic understanding of a computer and various common applications such as MS Word, Excel and so on, so during their training sessions, we take a very short amount of time to orient them to local company policies and procedures. This mostly entails an overview of the intranet, some specialized software (such as an
  • Our department has a security video that we use before we allow new employees to access our system. It covers basic computer security, and provides information on different level of protected information. After that, we give them their username and password on a memo that also contains a bunch of useful information for new users, such as how to access e-mail, and what the various network drives are for. Also on this memo are more security reminders. After that, we send them on their way. Anything else they
  • Here's your PC , here's your install disks

    have fun
  • by abb3w ( 696381 ) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @04:25PM (#17757560) Journal

    To wit, PC vs. Mac vs. Linux. Mac users are also asked about how long they've been using them.

    Next is setting up their accounts; this involves warning them of the minimum acceptable complexity allowed for passwords, showing them how to change their passwords to something marginally more memorable than the automatic preassigned random gibberish, and reminding them of the minimum requirements after the first password change attempt is rejected. I then tell them that neither I nor anyone else will ever ask for their password — if I or anyone in IT need access, we will change it, and tell them the new password afterward (so the user may change it back); anyone who asks for their password should be reported to me and to the central IT security number immediately as an attempt to breach security.

    After that, I point out the selection of web browsers available on their workstation (IE/Firefox/Opera, additional options for the Mac), advocate Firefox for regular use, and direct them to the central IT website's security training -- which is mostly dick-and-jane "don't share passwords, human!" common sense stuff; there's a quiz as part of it. I tell them to complete the security training, while I do something vaguely productive nearby (borrowing a mobile laptop if need be) and wait for questions. At the end, I point out the main IT policies page, note that most of it is common sense, but they should glance through the policies as soon as possible, because they may end up "nailed to the wall with rusty railroad spikes as a warning to others" if they fail to follow them. If they express doubt, I invite them to stop by my desk to see my rusty railroad spikes. (Bottom desk drawer; four of 'em, plus a 6kg sledge with a 40 cm handle. Just in case.)

    Once that's done, I then introduce them to the most regularly used software applications: email, Office, calendaring app, the local quick-and-dirty non-Acrobat PDF maker, and so on. The VPN software usually requires a digression into a bad analogy to explain why it's important. ("If you use the dumb-as-a-senator idea that the internet is a series of tubes, the problem is that most of the tubes are transparent, and might let any evil passerby see what's inside. Unless you're willing to give me all of your credit cards now to go shopping with, this is a bad thing. A VPN uses cryptography to run an opaque garden hose over to one of our secure machines, so people can't spy on you until after your traffic leaves our network again.") An overview of the strengths and limitations of whatever POS machine they're stuck working at follows.

    I then give them my mixed guru/BOFH lecture:

    • I have pity on ignorance and will treat it with patience and education
    • I feel paranoia is preferable to carelessness, and will grant much leeway accordingly
    • I was educated by Catholic nuns, own a ruler, and believe pain is a wonderful way to focus the mind
    • I have no mercy for outright stupidity, and no-one has ever found a body I've hidden
    • I have potential access to any data on any of our systems, but have better things to do than read their email "usually"
    • I will be happy to help them install any needed software once I am convinced it is licensed and not a security threat
    • When I respond to a request with "you have my divided attention", they should accept this as the best they'll get, since my undivided attention requires a loaded weapon to obtain and is unhealthy to have
    • I have no life, so they may feel free to call me at home outside normal work hours, but should understand that I answer the phone in Klingon to discourage telemarketing computers, that they may need to leave a message on my answering machine, and that they must accept that after hours *I* get to decide how important the problem is.

    I have happy users; I am beloved, respected, and feared. Aside from an expresso machine for my office, what more could a geek want?

    • At the end, I point out the main IT policies page, note that most of it is common sense, but they should glance through the policies as soon as possible, because they may end up "nailed to the wall with rusty railroad spikes as a warning to others" if they fail to follow them. If they express doubt, I invite them to stop by my desk to see my rusty railroad spikes. (Bottom desk drawer; four of 'em, plus a 6kg sledge with a 40 cm handle. Just in case.)

      Pop quiz, are these the same rusty railroad spikes that a

      • by abb3w ( 696381 )

        Pop quiz, are these the same rusty railroad spikes that are the first thing confiscated by security when an ex-employee latches on to all this as an inroad into "creating a threatening workpace"?

        No; since one of the important folk hereabouts is an expert in railroad history, I actually have a plausible excuse for having those around; they're mine, but he uses them as props for talks occasionally. The sledge actually belonged to my predecessor; I have no idea why he had it. Additionally, few openly expre

  • I think that if you're seeing good results from what you're doing, then keep doing it. I'm not saying don't tweak/optimize/refine it, but putting a personal face on IT is sometimes a big deal in a small company where your job security depends as much on how well you are perceived as how well you perform. Get to know your customers, it'll help you in the end. If you think of them as anonymous lusers, even if you don't think you're letting them know you do, _you are_.
  • (Or Keynote, or OO Impress.)

    Better: Get yourself a small-ish room. Fill the room with 10 workstations and a projector. You work on a computer on the projector -- probably with RDP/VNC access to the other machines in the room, so that in most cases, if a user has a problem, you can take over their computer and demonstrate the solution to the entire room.

    Basically, do what you would do in your video, but with one group, once a week, and actually be there for it. Should only take 30-45 mins, right? Figure it m
  • New employees appreciate some face time. If you have the luxury of a classroom setting in your building, consider running a 1-hour class that covers the same topics. This will save you time, because you get to handle all the employees in one hour. It will also help your new employees meet each other; and those who are more technically savy can help others.

FORTRAN is the language of Powerful Computers. -- Steven Feiner