Organizing a Team Of System Administrators or Tech Support: Workload-sharing Tips

System administrators are responsible for remote managing and maintaining IT infrastructure, including hardware, software, networks, and data. These roles are typically found in corporations with a large number of employees that need IT services. The sysadmin team usually consists of a few specialists of several different levels of expertise and their number depends on the size of the company.

Remote support is increasingly being used by companies because it has many benefits for them. They can save on costs by hiring fewer staff members to provide support services. Remote specialists can also save time because they don’t have to travel to their customer’s locations.

Technology is rapidly evolving and this is having a huge impact on the way that sysops work. Sysadmins can now do their job remotely from home or even from another country. This has both its benefits and drawbacks. It means that sysadmins are able to work more flexible hours but it also means they need to be constantly available for remote support requests which can be difficult to manage.

Therefore, it is very important that remote support technicians are able to distribute tasks efficiently and have time to help all the company’s customers.

How To Organise a Team of Sysadmins

If you’re a senior systems administrator in a company and you’re about to recruit new people to your team, take great care and responsibility in the process. Try to have people from different backgrounds on your team, so that they can complement each other and help a large number of clients. In the interview questionnaire, you may state:

1. What are they good at in terms of Windows and Linux.

2. What networking equipment have they worked with — Interested in Cisco, Zyxel, HP.

3. What programming languages — PowerShell/Bash/Python/Php.

You can then find out what potential employees are interested in and what they want to learn about the specialty. This information will allow you to understand how to allocate areas of responsibility more effectively and how to effectively manage remote teams without a single point of failure. It is not possible to make everyone interchangeable, but about 60-70% of the guys can overlap each other’s knowledge and areas of responsibility.

You will also need support team software, which allows you to connect remotely to customers and provide the technical services they need. Many remote desktops have licenses for IT support operators with different rights and features. Some software has built-in command distribution functionality for system administrators. Once a command has been created, you can:

  • assign roles to technical staff;
  • distribute the workload among performers;
  • connect from a shared account and share access.

Here is the detailed instruction on how to set up access to the sysadmins team.

Team interface in Getscreen software

Three Lines Of Technical Support

When allocating support lines, it is worth taking into account the type, complexity and number of tasks that need to be handled. It is common to allocate three lines, but your company may distribute them differently.

First Line

Any business can do without its first line of support if it needs to handle incoming customer queries and incidents — whether the customer is external or internal. The support team’s tasks include the following responsibilities:

  • primary processing and/or routing of all customer queries from all communication channels (chat, mail, telephony);
  • incidents are not only notified by chat, but also by phone, including complex escalation rules, and the guys can also report brief characteristics of the incident based on monitoring indicators;
  • forming tasks based on requests and commenting on the status of tasks to the customer, supplementing tasks according to new information received from the customer, and maintaining a calendar of planned work.

Second Line

If you have a set of typical tasks or incidents for which you already know the procedure and written instructions, then implementing the second line of support will help in the following areas:

  • resolving basic incidents — out of disk space expired SSL certificate, etc;
  • advising clients on how the monitoring system works;
  • solving typical problems.

Allocating a team to such groups of events significantly speeds up their processing time, and the availability of instructions allows you to use the second line as a more sophisticated stage of jungle training.

Third line

The third line is the heavy artillery of complex problem-solving and rescue during complex incidents. Its work involves a large proportion of research, development of plans, and various solutions, whether it is an emergency response to a burning incident or a plan to deal with a non-typical problem. 

The third line is responsible for:

  • investigating, resolving, and analyzing complex incidents;
  • solving complex, complex problems;
  • generating instructions and populating the knowledge base.

As you can see, splitting the helpdesk into three lines not only solves the problem of workload sharing but also allows for a transparent scheme of staff development. We also recommend using of the best tools for remote teamwork. If you follow all these guidelines and organize your team of system administrators or helpdesk operators correctly, your customers will be happy and your company will always be profitable.