“According to Pew, almost half of adults said they needed someone to help them set up or learn how to use their gadgets. Once they finally get them going, however, things aren’t all smooth sailingâ€”44 percent of adults with home Internet connections reported service failure sometime in the last 12 months.”
With apologies to Ars Technica’s Jacqui Cheng for so shamelessly ripping her pithy headline “Study reminds us why we’re always fixing our parents’ PCs” – I only do so because she’s so on target to point out the relevance of a recent Pew Internet & American Life Project report entitled “When Technology Fails.”
So Dean What’s your point? Glad you asked …
Just a quick reminder that any technology we introduce into the operations of our church and/or charitable organization is going to have an infrastructure cost. Here are some specifics from the aforementioned PEW, that though specific to a home setup, translate easily enough to the IT operations of our own religions institutions:
- 44% of those with home internet access say their connection failed to work properly for them at some time in the previous 12 months.
- 39% of those with desktop or laptop computers have had their machines not work properly at some time in the previous 12 months.
- 29% of cell phone users say their device failed to work properly at some time in the previous year.
- 26% of those with Blackberries, Palm Pilots or other personal digital assistants say they have encountered a problem with their device at some time in the previous 12 months.
- 15% of those with an iPod or MP3 player say their devices have not worked properly at some time in the prior year.
Consider the first bullet point in terms of operational impact. The internet goes down. Here’s how home users react – which I suspect would be similar to how your pastor, music minister and/or church secretary might behave:
- 38% of users with failed technology contacted user support for help.
- 28% of technology users fixed the problem themselves.
- 15% fixed the problem with help from friends or family.
- 2% found help online.
What that tells me is that those of us running a church and/or charity website, because of the our conspicuous computing prowess, may in fact be part of that 53% (38%+15%) contacted when anything from a printer to an internet connection goes down.
Yeah, okay, so I get those calls – what can I do about them? Glad you asked!
Some suggestions of how I’ve kept my part-time work as a church webmaster from turning into a full-time IT support desk:
- Identify other members of the congregation willing to help with non-website related IT issues
- Learn what service contracts the church has, and be willing to remind individuals (in a grace-driven and loving way) that’s where the call needs to go
- Establish a help/ticket system. I like Mantis Bug Tracker, but there are just as many others out there that get the job done.
- Establish an internal Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and/or WIKI system that can be used for quick reference.
- Get buy in for the above four points from the church staff. If they don’t enforce said policy, then you’ll quickly run into a polity issue.
I know I can’t be the only one whose experienced this – so let me know what you’ve done to remedy this situation.