An open letter

Dear IT Staff:

Why do you come around every summer and pull the rug out from under me? Suddenly, without warning, you appear and tell me my perfectly good computer has to be replaced, or that everyone’s got to “migrate” somewhere else. Last year, you took away the e-mail program I liked, and replaced it with lousy Microsoft Outlook, which has an unfriendly interface and less useful features. This year, you’re taking away my hard drive, plus a lot of the programs I need to do my work quickly and efficiently. I confess I have lost faith in the technology you bestow upon me, and then take away. (With all this endless migrating, you would think the digital wagon train might have reached the promised land by now!)

I know it’s not really your fault. You’re just carrying out your orders. Some master IT V.P. has decided this is all for the best. But I will have to figure out new workarounds so I can continue to do my job. And I’ll have to figure it out on my own. Just like the American people will have to figure out workarounds for the decisions inflicted on them from the guys up at Corporate. Like cockroaches after a nuclear war, we will survive. It’s all about the workarounds. So BRING IT ON!

5 Replies to “An open letter”

  1. This is from KAZ’s Master IT husband.

    There are several reasons why your computer and or software has to be updated and swaped out every so often. One reason is money. An organization can only afford to buy so many new computers a year. If the IT staff waited until the computers and software were obsolete, broken or incompatible they wouldn’t have enough money to replace all of the computers at one time. Many organizations create a replacement schedule that fits into the annual budget. Most places use a four or five year replacement schedule. Which can coincide with warranties. Software packages are another reason. Software developers are constantly thinking of better ways of utilizing the possible computing power available. Users want these features, thus new computers will be needed. You alluded to your email software. Many places switch software pacjkages for many reasons. One is cost. Outlook is part of Microsoft Office that many places already pay for. Why pay for something twice? Collaboration and mobility. Many times certain packages work beter and give more functionality if used together. Sometimes it takes a few years for these fuctions to meld together in a reasonable way that justifies using them. Security is another concern. Older programs have many security holes and need to be updated to abvoid possible problems. Support is another concern. While you may not want (or need) new hardware or software. Other may. Support staff can not be expected to support an infinite number of hardware configurations and software packages. Technology is a bit like a shark and it has to keep moving forward to surrive. My guess is that after a bit you will become used to, and appriate the new software and hardware that your IT staff has supplied for you. believe it or not, they are doing tihs so that you can be more productive. I’m sure you could get the IT department to skip over you in this cycle of software and hardware upgrades, but be prepared to sign an aggreement that states that you wont call them for any software or hardware support until your turn comes around again. Even if your computer fails completly.

  2. The reasons you give are all very reasonable, but not entirely applicable to the real world or how companies or societies really function. In theory, a company’s IT staff (or a government) provides equal support to everyone in such transitions, but in reality, a lot of employees (or citizens) really are expected to sink or swim on their own, due to limited support staff and resources. I’m just celebrating the resilience of the little people in the face of the planning of the Good and the Great.

    As for improving productivity, for example the switch in e-mail programs meant that something one could formerly use scripts to do (i.e., identify and delete spam) can no longer be used on certain accounts, so now staff members have to delete that spam by hand, every day. The deciders didn’t anticipate this, and apparently don’t intend to address it. That’s an example of a “little person” problem. It has given me a real perspective into how people in Third World countries waste their productivity doing workarounds for obstacles unwittingly thrown in their way by well-meaning superpowers intent on saving the world.

  3. almost every day, most of my time is devoted to workarounds, created by theory and Very Important People with the best of intentions.

    somehow, i guess, since most of these Very Important People, like Spitzer, can’t get out their own way, i’m not sure why i even hope that they will get out of mine.

  4. Ellen,

    IT Director person here again:

    You bring up a very good point. Equal support for all employees. One problem I encounter (being an IT director) is that no one (except other IT directors_) really know what it takes to support IT in a business (or in my case a school district). Most endusers see the computers and software. They don’t see all the infrastruction and suport that it takes to keep everything working. Most people don’t even acknowledge that IT staff exist unless something isn’t working. I created what is called a “carrying capacity” for our school district. This carrying capacity is the number of computers that our school district can support given the current situations. These situations consist of: support personel, (and this includes network, helpdesk and repair), bandwidth, and of course money. (both short term and long term. these costs have to include software and hardware for the workstation and the network. What most people don’t realize is that much more money and resources are needed to keep the network up and running) Once this is worked out you would be surprised at the number of workstations that can be supported. Industry standard for workstation support is 1 IT person for 50 computers. In education we are lucky if we 1 IT person to 250 workstations. This is just for the end user support. However, the pressure to add more and more workstations is always there. That means that the IT department has to constantly look for new ways to stream line and optimize the whole system.

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