Monday, March 4, 2019

Why is IT Angry? (and how to help fix it) Episode #1 : The Purchaser

Taking my own personal experience along with the gripes on Reddit and the things I hear in conversation with other IT people, it is apparent to me that there are a series of unfortunate misunderstandings of IT's role in the organizational ecosystem. I figured I'd like to take a stab at unpacking some of the most common gripes that IT people have, translate and explain them from a business perspective, and then brainstorm on ways we can turn those around to benefit the organization AND the employees.

I think IT is unique in some of the challenges it faces. This is NOT to say that other careers do not come with their own...they most certainly do! I am going to focus on IT because it's what I know. *
*Please note that everything I write is my opinion and that it does not reflect on any other entity.
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EPISODE #1 : THE PURCHASER

I like to call this the ‘I went ahead and bought 10 Chromecasts for the conference room’ conundrum. I read about a similar incident the other day on Reddit and can personally vouch for things like this having happened at least 10 times to me personally in my career.

Scenario
8:00 AM : CFO returns from a weekend conference with Chromecasts and puts them in the conference rooms first thing Monday morning. Her rationale was that she used it at home and it was really convenient and decided it was a great idea for the office as well. IT was never consulted, a request was never made and IT was completely unaware of the situation.

1:30 PM Ticket comes into the support desk with the question:
“Why won’t our Chromcasts connect to the internet?"


1:35 PM Ticket response from Help Desk:
"I'm sorry, we don't have any Chromecasts."

1:36 PM : Response from employee:
"My meeting started 6 minutes ago and I can see that they are here, I need to connect to them, can you please come look?"

1:40 Support person walks into room full of people waiting for meeting to start, sees that there are indeed chromecasts plugged in, apologizes and says they'll have to escalate the issue or that they aren't working, takes info back to sysadmin/network admin/boss whomever. Chaos ensues.
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Ok! Let's break it down...

IT has been entrusted with securing organizational data. Any good IT person takes that very seriously. They try to secure it as best they can while making security ‘holes’ for business processes that are required. If you come to them and ask them to install a device that requires firewall configuration changes, end-user support when their devices don’t connect to the Chromecast or AppleTv, security mitigation, data backup, account management, device updates and more without asking for their help ahead of time, you’ve sent a number of unintended messages.


The messages are:

  • We don't care that we are adding to your workload, we wanted a cool toy.
  • Your job is no more complicated than connecting a Chromecast to your home network. Forget the fact that we literally entrust you with all our data...
  • Putting IT in a position to be branded "Not a Team Player"
  • Putting the requirements of a whim ahead of any other projects/issues they are working on
  • Putting the IT person in an awkward position in front of a room full of people waiting for a meeting to start


There are many more, but you can see that while none of the above was consciously intended, it can cause a chain reaction of emotional responses from your tech team.

Obviously, both the CFO and the IT person have the organization's best interests at heart (hopefully) but as we all know some days it doesn't feel that way.

Consider the following scenarios and their potential results.


Buying insurance.
  • Did you know there is now a Ransomware rider you can add? Identity protection insurance? Do you know what your exposure is in the event of a breach? Are there investments to be made to realize savings/protection?
Putting up a new cube space.
  • Does this new space need a network connection? Phone?
  • Do you have enough extensions and direct dial numbers to accommodate the new station?
Hiring an accounting intern.


  • Does this person need a computer? Network account?
  • Will they need email? Will they need an orientation? Do they have the computer skills required to perform the function or will they become a support nightmare?
There is a tool you use, maybe a piece of software. So you just buy it.
  • There is the potential that IT already has an organizationally paid for tool that will address the need.
  • There is the potential that you are exposing your company to lawsuits and breaches depending on what you intend to do with it.
In all of those seemingly non-IT-related instances, IT will have responsibilities and might be able to bring information to light that you were simply unaware of. At the very worst you’ll be better informed and at most, better protected.

Results


In our Apple TV example, the provider of the devices didn’t consider initial setup, ongoing support, security ramifications, and most importantly was not actually looking out for business needs but rather, saw a cool toy they thought would be useful. Let's consider it in grid format so that we can see the position if each of the players involved.


ITSupportEmployeeITBossBusinessBoss
Completely unaware that the device was incoming. No awareness of needs which resulted in the purchase of the device.The people in this meeting think I can't even work a TV now, great! And what's up with IT telling me they can't fix it? What do they even do all day?Completely unaware that device was incoming. No awareness of needs which resulted in the purchase of device.Upset that IT won’t facilitiate making the Apple TVs work.
Result: Frustration/resentment. Not feeling like a partner and feeling disrespectedResult: Resentment towards IT, potentially feeling embarrased.Result: Frustration/resentment. Not feeling like a partner or respected and having unhappy employees AND unhappy C-level.Result: Resentment towards IT, potentially feeling embarrased.



How to Help Fix IT/it

IT should be invited to explain their position to all the people involved. 
After explaining the unintended consequences and providing an educational background for the group, IT should facilitate a conversation about ways that people can bring their requests to them and ensure they are aware of IT's willingness to assist in fulfilling business needs. If there was a need that wasn't being met in the conference rooms, IT should try to help solve that in the most secure, fiscally responsible, and supportable way. 
The more times people get in a room to discuss what's going on WITH IT, the better outcome for everyone involved. This starts with jumping on opportunities like in the scenario above and while they are initially demoralizing, they can sometimes be pivoted into a positive and constructive conversation between business and IT. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Quick Product Review : TheEmailLaundry

The name isn't great and if I'm being honest, it put me off in the beginning. I'm not entirely sure why it had me pause. McAfee email filtering went EOL on me in the middle of a fiscal year with very little notice and we were left scrambling for a suitable replacement.

We looked at a number of options, I can recall sitting through at least 5 or 6 different webinars with each company and going through multiple quotes. At the end of the day, we needed reliable SPAM/Phishing filtering, small amounts of policy customization and a spooling service for email as part of our DR plan.


We've been using it for almost a year now and I can say I'm really happy with the product. It is simple. It does exactly what it says it does and nothing more. The portal is easy to navigate, the policies do not give a ton of options, however the core, really important stuff is there.

It was affordable as well. It was right on par with what we were paying per user at McAfee for the same two services (DR spooling & SPAM/Phishing/Virus filtering). Their support has been really great the two times I've had occasion to interact with them as well.

If this is what you're looking for, theEmailLaundry is a good bet.
(https://theemaillaundry.com/).