To save money and give your consultant the best chance of meeting your expectations efficiently, prepare as best as you can the items below before your consultant arrives:

  1. Outline items you’d like done, provide product documentation, installation media if available.
  2. List accounts and passwords. See the accounts and passwords template PDF below.
  3. Back up your data, have backups accessible.
  4. Install software updates, provide laptop or mobile device power cord, AC adapter, keyboard and mouse, printer, scanner, etc. as applicable.
  5. Provide a clean work area with adequate ventilation and light, access to electrical outlets, and stable internet connection.

A concise list of issues to be resolved or repairs requested will be an important guide for your consultant. Also, the more your consultant can know at the outset about your computing equipment, network, and history of hardware and software upgrades, the more likely your project session will proceed apace. Product user guides, model info and serial numbers, type and amount of installed memory and storage, and notes about maintenance and prior repairs can avoid delays and save billable time.

Few things stall progress and consume as much billable time as having to hunt for missing online account credentials. User names and passwords for Windows or Mac OS X log ins, email accounts, Apple IDs, iTunes Store ID, Microsoft account logins, cloud storage, cellular broadband credentials, software licenses and product keys are required to complete most repairs and upgrades. Don’t forget your Wi-Fi passcode. When changing security settings and passwords that are used on all devices (desktop, laptop, printer, mobile phone, tablet) be sure to have all devices present when changes are made.

Click #passwords at the bottom or in the sidebar of this blog post to see other QTIPS about managing account log in credentials.

A PDF template for listing your accounts and passwords is available for download below.

Your data is the most important component of your computing system. By having already backed up your documents, financial files, contacts, photos, even important web links will enable your consultant to begin work right away without spending time to make a precautionary backup. Repair shops and IT professionals will treat your data with utmost respect and care, but they may not warranty data nor be responsible for its loss. Making regular backups of your data will enable your consultant to quickly focus on the work at hand -- even if that work is to recover and organize data on your computers and storage devices.

Keeping your operating system and applications up to date is essential. These days most current Windows, Mac OSX and application update packages are regularly delivered via download from genuine manufacturers' web sites. Never use third-party free download sites download.cnet.com, en.softonic.com, brothersoft.com, TuCows.com, and others because installer packages are often spiked with malware and other unwanted software.

Windows and Mac OS X updates usually install in the background. Full version upgrades may require one or more restarts and reentry of online accounts credentials, and additional settings if your computer is an older model. If you’re not sure what you're about to install, wait. Your consultant can help.

When a consultant will work at your home or office, they will do so most efficiently when free of unnecessary distractions, in a clean and uncluttered area (preferably in a place that will not interfere with your other ongoing activity), with adequate ventilation and lighting, access to functioning electrical outlets, and stable internet access. Access to a restroom may be welcome also. Most consultants will enjoy briefly meeting your staff, family, inquisitive children and enthusiastic pets before beginning work and/or while departing afterward.

If your consultant will take your computer away for repair, provide items 1-4 as applicable.

© Quentin Leo