Unit 11 LO1 - Understand the organisational issues related to computer system maintenance Unit 11 – Maintaining Computer Systems J/601/7329
Unit 11 – Maintaining Computer Systems - Scenario • This unit will give learners an understanding of the role of an IT services practitioner. Learners will identify that in the role the IT services practitioner has to be able to make good judgement based on advantages and disadvantages of any planned changes to a company system. • The practitioner will have to be able to monitor and balance the improvements/ maintenance to the computer system, without the company having too much disruption. • The aim of this unit is to introduce learners to the role and responsibilities of an IT practitioner with a focus on the field of computer systems maintenance.
LO1 - Assessment Criteria P1, P2 and M1 Assessment Criteria P1 • Learners should explain the issues that organisations need to consider when they are planning computer system maintenance. Assessment Criteria P2 • Learners should assess the health and safety issues that face the IT practitioner when maintaining computer systems in addition to standard health and safety issues within the workplace. These assessment criteria could be evidenced in the form of a presentation, leaflet, poster or report. Assessment Criteria M1 • Learners need to identify what precautions need to be taken when looking at a number of routine maintenance procedures. The precautions that need to be looked at include the use of specialist equipment, training etc.; this could be evidenced with leaflets, presentations, reports etc.
LO1 - Understand the organisational issues related to Computer System Maintenance - Scenario • An introduction to this unit could be the tutor delivering an introduction to the organisational issues relating to computer maintenance. • This could be delivered as presentations by the tutor and/or group discussions. The learners should research organisational policies relating to computer systems maintenance and the aspects of the process, sharing findings with the larger group. They would benefit from speaking to IT practitioners currently in the role who maintain computer systems and also managers who can relate to policies and procedures, and why they are important. The learners will need to be able to relate to the issues to both the larger and smaller organisations and should consider how the criteria for each may vary. • It is important that the learners understand the health and safety issues with regards to minimising the risk to users and equipment and to know what precautions that need to be taken when working on the systems. They should consider the centre or their own organisational policies and procedures for general health and safety issues and then discuss as a group the wider implications and considerations for the role.
P1.1 - Computer system maintenance - Organisational Considerations • For this LO you will be using two different companies as your working examples, one small like a supermarket with a range of IT equipment and one large with a lot of IT equipment like a school with hundreds of machines and printers. • Computers do not fix themselves, well technically they do to a degree, pre-set maintenance happens, programs backup up the network, restore files, delete older files, archive unused files, run routing scans. And all while employees are not looking. • The job of an IT manager and IT technicians is varied, only a fraction of the time is taken up with going to machines and fixing something that someone broke or replacing equipment that is old and tired. A lot of the time is spent looking at logs, running apps that catalogue and repair remotely, setting time tables of repair and maintenance, finding suppliers for equipment, components and resources. • There is a range of considerations a company needs to take in order to maintain systems with the least amount of disruption of Business. And the size of the business dictates how important these considerations are and what priority they should be considered in. P1.1 - Task 01 – For your two companies describe and compare the IT repair needs that may occur from day to day in terms of Computer Maintenance.
P1.2 - Computer system maintenance - Organisational Considerations - Procurement • Equipment procurement (e.g. supplier, sources) – Most computer equipment has a limited life span, a printer is designed to last 5 years, a computer 3 years, a monitor 5 years, mice, two years, keyboards 2 years. Similarly cables should last a decade until they are too slow rather than broken, trunking, floor panels, UPS’s, these are designed to last. • But when they do break they need to be fixed or replaced and that means finding a supplier or source for the replacement. • Supplier – IT technicians and Managers spend a lot of time finding and dealing with suppliers. The larger the company, the more of a need to find a regular supplier and building a relationship with them. Suppliers are companies who sell goods, if the sale is a regular thing then the supplier builds an account. Good relationships with the supplier means regular deliveries, more cost effective purchases, more reliable goods and less hassle when purchasing or chasing deliveries. • Sources – Your current supplier is not always going to be the best, other companies are cheaper, faster, more keen to provide discounts, and all these are considerations for each purchase. Some suppliers cannot be used by certain companies, schools for instance struggle to buy from Amazon on Account, they are not sanctioned. Overseas suppliers too, cheap imported cables from China are cost effective but guarantees are not the same. P1.2 – Task 02 – State, compare and explain how Equipment procurement needs to be an organisational consideration when purchasing supplies for your two companies.
P1.2 - Computer system maintenance - Organisational Considerations - Green • Sustainability and environmental issues - Not all equipment is recyclable, and most companies only recycle less than half of what can be recycled. Paper is an obvious issue, if it is confidential it needs to be shredded but most people bin it afterwards. Computer equipment can be reused, monitors not always, printers wear out and get disposed of but cartridges can be re-inked. • Sustainability – Companies shave a choice, fix what they have or replace and it is a choice. Products are designed to last for as long as the manufacturer wants, buying goods that are designed to last and can be repaired is a similar choice. But some equipment like CPU’s Motherboards, Memory and Corrupted hard drives may not be repaired, the time and effort is not worthwhile when they are cheap enough to replace. Choosing the cheaper option tends to be a larger consideration. • Environmental Issues – Going green, some see it as a fad, some see it as a company issue to promote themselves, but it is an issue companies have to deal with. Certain things cannot be disposed of just like that, toner cartridges have a fine powder that is toxic, destroying plastic is bad for the environment. Schools make an effort to recycle, to be green, they have paper bins etc. but they do not have tin, plastic and garden waste. Larger companies have a reputation, they also get monitored by the EPA so they have a moral responsibility. P1.2 – Task 03 – State, compare and explain how Green Issues needs to be an organisational consideration when managing resources for your two companies.
P1.2 - Computer system maintenance - Organisational Considerations - Issues • Documentation and problem escalation procedures - Help desks do not just repair a problem and leave it at that, everything is recorded, monitored, tracked. Problems can be predicted, anticipated with vigilance. • Logs – Network logs and activity logs can be used to generate patterns and solve issues that are recurrent. If a machine causes the same problem every day under a certain log in, then it is probably the person who logs in. If a problem with a printer is recurring, then it is the printer, if viruses are getting through the network, then internet activity can be traced to a user or machine. Using the logs can damage limit. See log, look at the network activity, look at where the user is logging in and the range of network management protocols that go with logging in. Find how many students are accessing YouTube through illegal means and how long it takes on average for the network to shut down this access. This log has 100,000 entries for a 3 hour period, that is how much activity a standard school uses. • Help Desks – Logging calls on a helpdesk allows the network team to monitor activity, to register what has been done what is recurring, and how successful their vigilance is being. On a larger scale customers ringing help desks allow the company to keep the customer happy, improves business efficiency and customer loyalty. Help desks work internally and externally, staff are as likely to have issues as well as customers. They are an essential part of modern business practice. They allow network teams to manage repairs remotely, catalogue issues and monitor activity so pressure at peak times can be catered for. P1.2 – Task 04 – State, compare and explain how Procedure Management needs to be an organisational consideration when damage limiting issues for your two companies.
P1.2 - Computer system maintenance - Organisational Considerations - Responsibility • An AUP (Acceptable Use Policy) is there for staff to sign so they promise to behave on the network. But it is more than a legal document, it is a promise of responsibility. All companies have responsibilities to abide by and this acceptable use of equipment and programs is part of that protection companies need. • Employer – there are legal and moral guidelines employers have towards their employees when it comes to computer use, safe environment, ergonomic workplace, heating, lighting, contractual rights, right to privacy etc. Employers tend to stick to these because it is conducive to a working environment, treat staff well and they will work harder, warn of monitoring activities, put security and network protocols in place for privacy, decency in the way they deal with offenders etc. • Employee – In return the employee signs an AUP policy promising to behave, not to download, not to snoop, not to damage. The employee contract is something we are all use to but beyond the AUP policy, staff should know procedures, they should respect the working environment, to check for safety issues etc. • Contractor – When Contractors are hired to work on site they are made aware of the company responsibilities and site planning responsibilities. Builders who work in a school for instance have to be CRB checked. They also have to be Health and Safety checked, Corgi registered for gas work, appliance tested fro electrical work etc. All contractors know this, it is part of their profession and this carries to whatever employment they are hired for. P1.2 – Task 05 – State, compare and explain how Business Responsibility needs to be an organisational consideration when working on systems for your two companies.
P1.3 - Computer system maintenance - Organisational Considerations – H&S at Work • The biggest legal implication that affects employees at work is the Health and Safety Act 1974. All other acts have to be obeyed because they are right to do so but this act saves lives, and is dealt with through first aiders, safety checks, fire monitors, evacuation procedures, and equipment checks. • Legal Measures to Protect - Measures employers should take include: • Understanding the law make sure someone in your organisation has a health and safety brief covering all areas, not just computers. • Being aware of the health risks the government officially recognises some of the risks although there are some grey areas you'll need to make up your own mind about. • Assessing the risks using procedures set out in the law be systematic and get help if you need it. • Get a health and safety audit done by a competent organisation if necessary. • Taking steps to minimise the risks this may only involve taking simple measures. • Training all users to recognise the risks if people aren't aware of the dangers they can't take adequate precautions to protect their health. • Taking users views seriously if users feel there is something wrong there often is.
P1.3 - Computer system maintenance - Organisational Considerations – H&S at Work • Using ICT equipment safely is important for your health. All businesses, no matter how small, have a legal responsibility to reduce the risk of workplace dangers and provide safe and healthy conditions for employees, customers, suppliers and anyone else who could be affected by the activities of the business. For technicians this also means equipment such as ESD wrist-strap, ESD mats and access to fire equipment. • The Health and Safety at Work Act means that employers have a duty to look after the health and safety of their employees. • They have to assess the risk of the employee getting hurt or becoming ill and do all they can to avoid it happening. People who use computers for most of the day are exposed to certain risks, and these are the people the regulations cover • What does the employer have to do? • Employers need to look at: • the whole workstation including equipment, furniture, and the work environment • the job being done • any special needs of individual staff. • In real world terms this means that it is the employers legal responsibility to take care of staff and those who come onto or into the site, store, school etc. teachers for instance have to verify the safety procedures within a room when they teach a class. They might do so without you seeing but they do, moving cables out of the way, stopping students swinging on seats, removing obstacles and risks, limiting down behaviour so it does not get threatening. • All companies do this, it is a responsibility of staff to be aware of the dangers and the responsibility of the management and owners to deal with the dangers before they happen. P1.3 – Task 06 – State, compare and explain how Business Responsibility when it comes to legal Issues needs to be an organisational consideration when working on systems for your two companies.
P1.4 - Computer system maintenance - Organisational Considerations - Testing • Testing – This is one of those things that network technicians do all the time, done when there is no-one around from Base Testing to Soak testing and comes in several forms: • Network Software – nothing gets put in place until it has been tested, see if it integrates with the network OS, so if it plays with the other relevant applications, see if it is in Beta and stable under conditions. Several programs will be tested at one time by different technicians, companies like Novell and Windows NT have new components all the time to try. Popular used programs like Sysmon, PCount, PConsole were all applications that were tested before being approved. Now they are more integrated through acceptance. • Programs – Software needs to be tried out, programs can be unreliable with OS’s, crashing, losing work, not integrating, causing other programs to crash because of conflicting DLL’s. • Hardware – Nothing goes out to teachers that has not been tried by technicians because teachers will ask how to work them and technicians always need to be one step higher. For instance graphics tablets for the Art Department, there will be a machine in the technicians room that has the software and drivers already on it and working. Similarly Hard drives are imaged and tested before students get to use them so the protections are all in place. For companies this is more so, specifically electrical testing and PAT. P1.4 – Task 07 – State, compare and explain how testing needs to be an organisational consideration and policy when working on systems for your two companies.
P2.1 - Computer system maintenance - Organisational Considerations - Risks • Health Risks– the health and Safety at Work Act is very clear on what constitutes a risk but is not specific to any job. That is left to the individual and other smaller acts that have merged into the H&S at Work Act. Fire regulations are clear, evacuation procedures, Electrical Safety when it comes to testing etc. But other specific job risks exist. • Stress – This is clarified in the Act, we know this from other units, workloads, deadlines, company pressure etc. That is a given. But being an IT practitioner and being responsible for maintaining computer systems adds a level of pressure, others depend on them, others assume they can fix anything, others blame IT practitioners for the faults existing. “Why did they not fix it properly,” it is not as though IT technicians only fix it a little in the knowledge that they could have done better if they wanted to. And blame comes from all levels, and for a department that is always at the end of a phone, there is no getting away from it. • RSI – Some IT jobs are repetitive, in a school during the breaks 50 machines arrive, 100 boxes, open, take out, connect up, dispose and start again. 3 days of setting up repeating the process. Jobs vary but tasks as drive imaging, installing software manually, setting passwords etc. can be repetitive. And working with RDC, Remote Access, can be more so. P2.1 – Task 08 – State, compare and explain the added RSI and Stress Risks for IT practitioners when working on systems for your two companies.
P2.2 - Computer system maintenance - Organisational Considerations - Risks • Health Risks– additional risks when working with electrical equipment, specifically monitors and install cards and computers often come up. Practice reduces these but they can still be serious: • Shock and Burns – Electrical shocks happen all the time with IT equipment, specifically in rooms with floor tiles. Placing any card into a computer takes the risk of shock, you are touching an electrically controlled device, anything metallic connected to it becomes a conductor. Similarly burns, cards get hot, fans overheat, soldering irons etc. Power supplies tend to explode or slinter when pushed too hard. For shocks there are solutions, for burns this is a different matter. • Trip Hazards – Computers need to be tested and are often tested in cramped offices, trip and falling hazards are common, plugs hang from sockets, wires trail across desks. In larger rooms this can be as bad, when the room is complete everything is hidden from the staff but the room can be a tangle of leads and objects leading up to that point. Vigilance and precaution are the only real solutions. • Radiation – No-one sits in front of a monitor longer than the average IT technician and even with. See next slide for ELF details and controversy. Some technicians sit in front of several screens at a time monitoring network activity and this increases the chance of radiation effects, tiredness, baldness, skin damage and premature aging and cell counts. P2.2 – Task 09 – State, compare and explain the additional dangers to health when working on systems for your two companies.
P2.2 - Computer system maintenance - Organisational Considerations - Risks Extremely low frequency (ELF) radiation Radiation Hazards - Computer equipment, particularly VDU's give off low level electromagnetic radiation. There is particular concern that this may lead to miscarriage or birth defects when pregnant women work for long periods at a VDU screen. There is conflicting evidence on this, specifically about the amount of exposure before this happens. Employers may have a policy of offering alternative work to pregnant employees and of introducing 'low emission' monitors which are screened so that the levels of radiation emitted is less. • Exposure to ELF is an everyday occurrence and can occur naturally from sun or fire or magnetic effects. • Research suggests that effects of ELF are increasing • Some studies try to link ELF to early miscarriages • There is evidence of some correlation between miscarriages and hours spent in front of a VDU. This could be due to other factors such as stress and workplace conditions • On-going controversy over mobile phones
M1.1 - Understand computer system maintenance – Minimising Risks • 95% of all risks can be minimised or nullified by measures, mostly cheap, that any company can decide upon. Some like ESD straps etc. are not a legal requirement but can be demanded in order to make it legal (it must be asked of first). The degrees of success of these measures depends on the quality of the measure and the practical use by the person. • Electrocution, fire, electrostatic discharge (ESD) - • ESD wrist-strap – These are basically straps usually with a crocodile clip that links the user to an earthed point, a wired base unit, a metal table or a radiator, something that is touching the ground with metal so any electrical discharge from a system will go through the user to the grounded point instead of the longer route, through the body. They usually have a flexible wire connection so the user can manoeuvre without pulling the wire off. Once connected, any residue static should clear leaving only a minimal charge behind. • ESD mat – This is similar to the wrist stray but instead of the user wearing it, the mat goes onto or under the device being used and takes the remaining static from the system into it. This static is then dissipated freeing the user form charge. • Fire equipment – there are 3 types of fire extinguishers, foam, water and C2O, knowing which one to use is vital and being an IT practitioner means having a small extinguisher for electrical fires, the most common IT type, handy. Larger ones are covered under Heath and Safety, have regular checks by a fire officer and once used, even for a second, get replaced, policy dictates this. M1.1 – Task 10 - Identify the standard precautions that should be taken during routine maintenance procedures. M1.1 – Task 11 – Source the ESD equipment needs for your two businesses and compare the quality and need of these resources.
M1.2 - Understand computer system maintenance – Minimising Risks • Training – Within any company this is the best preventative measure that can be put in place, not just for IT practitioners but for all staff. And almost all companies have some degree of training for Health and Safety in place, just as they have a H&S officer. Larger companies have more officers and more of a need for trained H&S aware staff. • Safety - From Fire safety training, to back lifting, evacuation procedures, ladder climbing, ELF, etc. All companies have this, to not have this is dangerous to the finances and reputation of a company. In the welcome pack for school staff there is a H&S booklet on school procedures. And each business has something unique that requires specialist training, child safety and protection, risk hazards, fork lift driving safety procedures etc. • First-aid - In theory there should be a first aider on site at all times, there should be at least one first aider for every ten staff present, there should be a 3 year qualified first aider on every field trip. Training needs to be updated every 3 years. Similarly the procedures for things like Epi-pens, precautions for epilepsy etc. all need to be emphasised depending on the business. For schools particularly, teachers are aware of the stated medical needs of the pupils in their classes just in case. For IT practitioners there should be at least one First Aider to deal with emergencies, for larger companies, there should be more than one. M1.2 – Task 12 - Identify the health precautions that should be on hand during routine maintenance procedures. M1.2 – Task 13 – Source the relevant Safety Training and First Aid course needs for your two businesses and compare the quality and need of these measures.
LO1 - Assessment Task List P1.1 - Task 01 – For your two companies describe and compare the IT repair needs that may occur from day to day in terms of Computer Maintenance. P1.2 – Task 02 – State, compare and explain how Equipment procurement needs to be an organisational consideration when purchasing supplies for your two companies. P1.2 – Task 03 – State, compare and explain how Green Issues needs to be an organisational consideration when managing resources for your two companies. P1.2 – Task 04 – State, compare and explain how Procedure Management needs to be an organisational consideration when damage limiting issues for your two companies. P1.2 – Task 05 – State, compare and explain how Business Responsibility needs to be an organisational consideration when working on systems for your two companies. P1.3 – Task 06 – State, compare and explain how Business Responsibility when it comes to legal Issues needs to be an organisational consideration when working on systems for your two companies. P1.4 – Task 07 – State, compare and explain how testing needs to be an organisational consideration and policy when working on systems for your two companies. P2.1 – Task 08 – State, compare and explain the added RSI and Stress Risks for IT practitioners when working on systems for your two companies. P2.2 – Task 09 – State, compare and explain the additional dangers to health when working on systems for your two companies. M1.1 – Task 10 - Identify the standard precautions that should be taken during routine maintenance procedures. M1.1 – Task 11 – Source the ESD equipment needs for your two businesses and compare the quality and need of these resources. M1.2 – Task 12 - Identify the health precautions that should be on hand during routine maintenance procedures. M1.2 – Task 13 – Source the relevant Safety Training and First Aid course needs for your two businesses and compare the quality and need of these measures.