Tips for Better What’s the secret to great IT support in the component industry? “Communicate well, with everyone, including your future self.” — JOHN HOLLAND JOHN HOLLAND KNOWS that Clearspan Components is unique. “Most truss plants don’t have someone who is an IT professional,” acknowledged Holland. “Most places have that one guy who was asked to fix it that one time and now he’s in charge of it.” As a member of the very small community of professional IT staff in the component manufacturing industry, Holland is eager to share the best practices he’s identified. “No one has an expansive knowledge of all software and all things,” Holland said. The IT staff he knows are often “going to do the exact same thing as any other user” when faced with an IT problem: “we’re going to go Google it.” That basic, commonsense approach is the heart of his advice on technology issue management and documenta-tion. Whatever you do to communicate and track prob-lems, he said, “make it a process that’s simple enough that you’ll actually do it, and detailed enough that it’s useful.” 26 sbcmag.info • MAY 2017 Simple is key, although that can be less intuitive than you might anticipate. For example, take the first rule Holland sets with his IT staff: “You can’t ask me. You have to write it down.” Why document every issue when walking over to Holland’s office is easier? He explains it this way: say someone explains the problem to Holland, only to have him point to a third colleague who might know the answer. Now the problem has to be explained again—everyone’s time has been spent, and no one is closer to a solution. Writing down the issue, Holland insists, simplifies the pro-cess and saves time in the long run. “The benefit is twofold,” said Holland. First, the ques-tion can be asked once—only once—no matter how many people need to be involved to find a solution. Second, there’s transparency. Everyone (including those who might encounter the issue in the future) can see that the question has been asked and can see what the answer is when both are written down.