Technology – Proficiency in software (Sage, Quickbooks, Symantec, etc)

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This is another installment of my Technology posts, geared towards those of us who are technology professionals and support users or clients.

Most of us technologists specialize in certain things. We love hardware. We love networks. We love servers. We love Active Directory. We love SAMBA. We love Linux. We love Cisco. Whatever it is, we have our preferences and we promote them. But for those of us that support users, whether they’re internal users or external users, there’s one thing we all need to be good at, and that’s software.

I’ll give some background here, in that I do have a good working knowledge of Sage Accounting because I use it personally. I don’t however use Quickbooks or Symantec anything (Internet Security, Ghost, etc). Yet, I find myself constantly working with these programs.

As you know, my business provides 3rd party IT support services to clients. When clients have a problem with something, they call us. This could be anything from “the internet isn’t working” to “I can’t print” to “there’s a problem with my program”. A LOT of software these days is networked. Accounting programs, customer management software, engineering tools, HVAC controllers, architectural design software, the list goes on and on. And of course, when something is networked, there will eventually be hiccups and problems that need to be worked out. Especially for those of us in the 3rd party support world, it’s completely impossible to be an expert in every piece of software that our clients have. There’s simply too much out there, and we generally don’t interact with it unless there’s a problem, so we aren’t going to become experts simply from repeated use. And to be honest, we don’t need to be experts in order to troubleshoot things. Most software, at least when it comes to the networking aspect, is very similar. Quickbooks and Sage, while both very different accounting programs, essentially network the same manner, over a proprietary database that’s included in the software itself. Usually, there aren’t a ton of menu options when it comes to troubleshooting the networking features, and once you get the basic feel for one of these programs, you start to learn what to look for. I can sit down in front of nearly any GUI-based software and find the networking settings within a few clicks (Tools -> Options or File -> Preferences are always a great place to start).

The point that I’m trying to make here is that we need to be dynamic. We need to teach ourselves that just because we aren’t an expert in something, doesn’t mean we can’t try and learn how to troubleshoot or support it. Too often I see technology professionals say “oh, Quickbooks, yeah I don’t deal in software at all”. Creating these limitations just means that others are going to come in and fill that void. Remember, providing “support” is a big giant umbrella that we need to be prepared for.


Martin Lehner

Martin Lehner is an technology professional working for an IT services firm in Whitehorse, Yukon (Canada). He has been working in the technology field for over a decade. With a degree in Business Admin and numerous industry certifications, Martin leads a team of IT professionals that provide third party support for clients. Originally starting a company to offer web development services, Martin quickly realized that clients wanted the entire spectrum of technology services. When Martin is not at work (which is not often, since his company offers 24/7 support), he is busy at home spending time with his family.

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