By Bill Detwiler (TechRepublic)

February 17, 2011, 12:52 PM PST

The beginning of each year is a perfect time to reevaluate your IT department’s routine activities and look for time-wasting tasks that you can push to the wayside. While the specific tasks each IT department deems cut-worthy will vary, there are a few activities that nearly all IT departments should stop doing right now. They are:

  1. New hire office setups: I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that these days most new hires can hook up their own computer. I’m not saying IT shouldn’t configure the machine, but 99 percent of the time there’s no need to have an IT staffer visit the employee’s desk, unpack the components, and connect the cables.
  2. Relocating computers for normal office moves: Again, today’s average office worker should be able to handle this task. IT may need to ensure the new workspace has network connectivity and should provide instructions for moving equipment, but there’s just no need for an IT staff member to break down an employee’s machine, carry it to a new desk, and set it back up.
  3. Setting up phones: A colleague once told me of an old employer, that years ago required a telecom staff member to move any phones. Neither the users nor the IT staff were allowed to simply pick up a phone, move it from one desk to another, and plug it in. In today’s world of merged telecom/IT departments and VoIP phone systems, restrictions like these are just silly. There’s no reason for an IT staff member to physically move a phone–unless you’re having the jack rewired.
  4. Replacing copier/printer/fax toner cartridges: While IT should still be involved in the deployment and network support for printers, copiers, and fax machines, there’s no reason non-IT staff can’t change a toner/ink cartridge. It’s just not the difficult.
  5. Installing keyboards, mice, speakers, or monitors: As with printers, copiers, and fax machines, IT should be involved in and perhaps even control the purchasing and deployment of peripherals. But, there’s no reason every keyboard or mouse replacement should require a desktop visit. The average office worker should be able to unplug their old mouse and connect a new one. At the same time, IT should be deploying peripherals that minimize installation problems.

Final word

Are there exceptions to these rules? Sure. It’s much easier for IT departments that support tech-savvy users to relinquish these responsibilities. And, then there are corporate executives–who expect a desktop visit no matter what’s wrong. But for the most part, IT personnel shouldn’t be wasting time on tasks non-IT employees can handle. And if a problem does pop up during a new keyboard installation or office move, users can always call the help desk.

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