Monday, June 22, 2009

Five Levels of Support

Those of us in the computer field are resigned to at least the occasional support role. If you're in the office next to the CIO, you might just want to consider it hazard duty.

But support comes in many flavors, as I'll attempt to explain these five level of support in more detail:

  • Support
  • support
  • Fsupport
  • Xsupport
Support refers to having complete ownership of the problem and responsibility to see that the problem is fixed in a timely manner. This is the level of support that most people recognize and are familiar and comfortable providing. The lines of responsibility is clear and they're in charge.

"support", or "little-s support", occurs when someone else, like it or not, has Support, but needs your help and assistance to resolve a problem. An application developer might need some help from a performance management expert or a network trace run to diagnose an issue. Care must be taken to avoid ending up with Support in these instances.

Fsupport, or "F-support", is familiar to those of us that provide computer support for Friends and Family, the "F" becoming clear. Since Friends certainly occur in the workplace, some confusion can arise when you offer "above and beyond" service for maybe no apparent reason. Maybe you're local expert that your colleagues would rather pull into a problem than call the Help Desk. This can become a balancing act and care must be taken to pick your Friends wisely.

Xsupport, or "X-support", is easily recognized by anyone that studies organization charts. At a certain level an eXecutive, the "X" becoming clear, gets support and loving attention regardless of corporate policy, their love of non-standard computing equipment and any resemblance of a cost/benefit analysis. Need to help their spouse with that new iMac at their summer home, no problem. Just be nice and all will pass by without a career threatening cloud over your head.

That leaves us with FYBYOYO, phonetically "fib-YO-YO", that stands for "Forget You Buddy, You're On Your Own", at least in polite company. This is probably the least familiar of the five levels of support, probably because it appears in real life with the same frequency as blue M&Ms. Whether it's our love of being heroes, racking up a few markers to be called in later, not wanting to rock the boat or a truly altruistic nature, FYBYOYO is a hard stance to take. But if you're tempted, make sure to you're clear about the first four levels. They might trump you more often than you think.

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