IT technical support officers monitor and maintain the computer systems and networks of an organisation. They may install and configure computer systems, diagnose hardware/software faults and solve technical and applications problems, either over the phone or in person. Depending on the size of the organisation, a technical support officer’s role may span one or more areas of expertise.
Organisations increasingly rely on computer systems in all areas of their operations and decision making processes. Failure of mission-critical IT systems can lead to a complete inability of the organisation to deliver its services.
Technical support officers are sometimes known as help desk operators, technicians, maintenance engineers or applications support specialists. The work is as much about understanding how information systems are used as applying technical knowledge related to computer hardware or software.
Typical work activities
In essence, technical support officers are responsible for ensuring the smooth running of computer systems and ensuring users get maximum benefits from them. Tasks vary depending on the size and structure of the organisation, but may include:
- installing and configuring computer hardware operating systems and applications;
- monitoring and maintaining computer systems and networks;
- talking staff/clients through a series of actions, either face to face or over the telephone;
- troubleshooting system and network problems and diagnosing and solving hardware/software faults;
- replacing parts as required;
- providing support, including procedural documentation;
- following diagrams and written instructions to repair a fault or set up a system;
- supporting the roll-out of new applications;
- setting up new users’ accounts and profiles and dealing with password issues;
- responding within agreed time limits to call-outs;
- working continuously on a task until completion (or referral to third parties, if appropriate);
- prioritising and managing many open cases at one time;
- rapidly establishing a good working relationship with customers and other professionals (e.g., software developers);
- testing and evaluating new technology;
- conducting electrical safety checks on computer equipment.