In the days of multi-station clusters, networking, and cost-cutting, Broadcast Engineers and Technicians need to work highly efficiently to get the job done and earn their keep.

Here are my top Broadcast Productivity Tools you can use to make your life easier and work more efficiently:

Documentation and Record Keeping

The number one productivity “tool” is to document your daily work as you go, so you can refer back to it later. If you do something more than once, you should write it down. I know we techies don’t like to read the manual, but this is worth it. Here’s some procedures you can easily document:

  • IP Addresses
  • Warranty Information
  • Livewire Stream Numbers
  • Remote Access details
  • Computer setup procedures
  • New user setup procedure
  • Maintenance routines
  • DNS Records
  • List of handy Powershell commands
  • Time server troubleshooting procedure

Add to this list anything you have to do ore than once. It’s worth writing it down, even if it’s something easy to remember. This will also pay dividends if you ever want to take a holiday or employ an assistant.

Support Ticketing

Most support issues, especially those for office IT, don’t need your immediate attention. Implement a ticketing system for your users to enter the request into, and track them.

I personally use OsTicket. It’s easy to setup for free on a PHP/MySQL server, and happily sucks in requests from a dedicated email address all year long.

Trello

This is my absolute favourite productivity tool. If you haven’t used Trello before, it can be best described as a to do list / pin board. The concept is simple:

  • Create lists / columns
  • Create cards to add to lists
  • Add notes, attachments, images, checklists, people, etc. to cards
  • Drag cards between lists, and re-order them
  • Archive them when done

I have my main board setup with these four lists:

  • Ideas
  • Pending
  • In Progress
  • Completed

Every job that I do gets a card, even if it’s after the fact. The cards typically make their way from left to right through the lists. If it’s a small job, I’ll add it directly to the “In Progress” list. My boss and coworkers can easily see what I’m currently working on.

Trello has significantly improved my workflow, and helps me plan out my day much better. Also, things can now never get ‘forgotten’.

It also helps me document things. Because I paste links to online support guides and notes about fixes, it helps me when I encounter the same issue again.

Automated Reporting & Monitoring

Everything that can be tracked should  be tracked. This includes:

  • Computer health
  • Equipment health
  • Switch health
  • Network connection health
  • Audio path health
  • Axia equipment health

By tracking everything, you will be able to more easily diagnose issues and fix problems. You can sometimes even fix problems before they become a problem.

Tools such as SysLog, log files, and Spiceworks are great here.

Remote Access

If you haven’t already, setup comprehensive remote access to all of your networks, systems and computers. Ensure you have a VPN into each network, and then remote desktop access to every computer/server you support.

If your router doesn’t support a VPN, get something cheap like a Ubiquiti EdgeMax Router. These support OpenVPN, and are easy to get up and running if you know your router basics. It’ll cost you ~$100, plus setup time.

It’s also worth considering backup network connections into your main networks. Perhaps you can add a Dual ADSL Connection. If not, consider a 3G or 4G connection. When used for incoming backup purposes, they should be pretty cheap.

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I'm Anthony Eden, and I'm a IT Professional, Broadcast Technician, Software Developer, and Solutions Engineer. I've been working in broadcast media since 2008, and developing software and websites for just as long. Right now, I provide freelance services through Media Realm - in particular, to the media and not-for-profit industries.

Follow Anthony on Twitter: @anthony_eden