Lockdown addendum

I continue to digest reader comments about my proposed policy of "productive flexibility", which allows end-user software installation for business purposes with manager approval.

ManagementSpeak: As part of the ongoing drive to improve our customer response, we have decided to streamline the process for users requesting services from IS.

Translation: You are redundant.

-- This week’s entry, part of our ongoing drive to improve our management vocabulary, comes from an IS survivalist who prefers remaining anonymous to becoming redundant himself.

I’m sitting in our cottage in the Wisconsin woods. My laptop computer is working perfectly, unlike the pipe to the septic tank, which froze in the 15-below-zero cold. Is this juxtaposition of working and failed technologies irony, I wonder?

Speaking of technology that sometimes fails, I continue to digest reader comments about my proposed policy of “productive flexibility”, which allows end-user software installation for business purposes with manager approval.

One comment came from a client and friend, a CIO whose opinion I respect. “You got that one wrong, Bob,” he told me, describing a current project for which total lockdown is the plan. It’s the best decision for his circumstance, as I agreed after he’d described his situation.

Which brings me to James Reaney, a reader who found himself agreeing with me, at least partially, even though he describes himself as “… an individualist with VPS-leaning tendencies when I wear my IT manager hat.” Reaney challenged me to take the other side of this issue, instead of writing from the point of view of a poor, beleaguered PC support manager.

Hmmm. OK, I’m managing PC support again. (It’s been a while — the last time I held this job, my team supported Windows 3.1 and NetWare 4.1.) I have a limited budget and staff. We’re keeping our heads above water, but only because we’ve standardised the PC build and enforce that build through total lockdown. Will I really take my own advice and allow end-user software installations?

Whattayou, nuts? Stick my neck out for an IT budget increase that will benefit someone else’s cost centre at the expense of my own? Not a chance. That would be political suicide.

Here’s what I would do: meet with every budget manager in the company to discuss the costs and benefits of a productive flexibility policy. I’ll put it into practice for every manager willing to support it. My department will track helpdesk calls to determine which work groups are asking for the most additional support as a result of the new approach. Those driving the need for more staffing will either support my request for additional head count or roll back the software packages that drive my department’s workload the most.

What about those cost centre managers who won’t commit? If they won’t sign up to the business benefit, to heck with them.

Lock ’em down!

Lewis is president of IT Catalysts. Send letters for publication in Computerworld to Computerworld Letters.

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