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Need for Departmental IT staff?

In general most departments are well served by the MSD IT’s central server provision and it would therefore not be necessary to run Departmental servers. In addition, Departments tend to need general desktop support from MSD IT. Where Departmental need is greater than MSD IT can provide, or need a fast response available from having a member of staff in the department; then departments can employ additional dedicated support staff through MSD IT. The cost of such support would be according to the level of staff required and appropriate salary costs and would be born by the department not MSD IT. This could be done either as a single Department or as a group of Departments.

Role of MSD IT

MSD IT will maintain the central fileservers, network connections, and give support to users as before. MSD IT will also act as a resource for the local IT support staff. It is expected that the local support staff will use the prevailing MSD IT practices to ensure integration with other departments in the Division.

Departmental IT Committee

In order to focus the work of any departmentally provided staff it is strongly recommended that a department set up its own IT committee. This committee should have a chairman, and representatives from research and administrative staff. Special notice should be taken of large research groups and those with large computing needs. The departmentally provided staff member (or most senior if more than one), and a representative from MSD IT should also be on the committee. The role of the committee should be that of strategic management, and to deal with specific problems. The line management should be via senior member of the MSD IT and a local departmental manager (if required).

Research Project IT Support Staff

In general research IT support divides in to two types.

  1. That requiring specialist software support (usually database programming or software for laboratory data manipulation)
  2. That requiring specialist computer systems (both software and hardware)

In both these categories the support officer may or may not be responsible for desktop support. It is more productive for these staff providing general support to be affiliated to MSD IT. In some cases it may be necessary to grade post with a specialist skill sets at a high level at grade 8 rather than the more common grade 7.

Role of IT staff

The role of Departmental IT staff is to provide fast on hand support within the Department.  These staff would normally install hardware and software, assist users in understanding their systems, provide routine maintenance, and replacement of consumables. Depending on Departmental needs and preferences IT support staff can be recruited on technical or research grades:

Duties for a technical grade (normally grade 5) include:

  • Assisting MSD IT support staff for the Department.
  • Unpacking and setting up new desktop computers.
  • Installing PC/Macintosh computers for users.
  • Connecting standard configuration desktop computers to the network.
  • Installing network cards.
  • Operating printers, scanners and other peripherals.
  • Filling printers with paper, and changing toner cartridges.
  • Changing tapes in backup devices.
  • Dealing with simple queries relating to computer hardware.

For staff appointed on research grades (normally grades 7 and above)

Their role would normally cover a diagnostic role as well as providing expertise in a specific research area. Duties would include:-

  • Problem solving and diagnosing/remedying user problems.
  • Help in the planning of IT related projects for the department.
  • Working independently with backup support from MSD IT to solve IT problems.
  • Installing PC/Macintosh computers for users.
  • Configuring and connecting computers to the network.
  • Setting up and installing peripheral devices.
  • Connecting and setting up printers on the network
  • Running local backup procedures if necessary.

Skill sets/ educational requirement in a Departmental IT support staff

Each Department will probably be looking for slightly different skills in their support staff.  In general a Department would expect to appoint a graduate with at least one year’s experience in appointing a Computing Officer. Ideally three years experience might be required in a similar post/environment.  They will need to be familiar with the type of PC systems used by the Department, and the operating systems being used. In addition to general skills a Department may also wish to use their staff for more specialised work. Other skills may include program writing, in which case experience of the appropriate languages would also be essential. Database work may require a knowledge of SQL etc.