Tugger the SLUGger!SLUG Mailing List Archives

RE: [SLUG] hrmm.. go Telstra

On Thu, 24 Aug 2000, John Wiltshire wrote:

> This is where you have to ask if you are putting your own views ahead of
> user requirements.  If a user (not an admin) sees Exchange and likes it then
> trying to tell them that they are wrong because you know better than they do
> is pure intellectual arrogance.  Users ask for things.  Programmers and
> admins should cater to their needs - after all that is what we are here for.

The problem with this argument is that users often ask for things that 
are not appropriate or they ask for things that while not impossible to 
accomplish may end up occupying a lot more resources than available. 

Quite the opposite!
Programmers and admins *should not* cater for the needs of users. 
Instead they should be advising the users on what 
the appropriate technologies are and then directing them towards the 
required outcome.  Otherwise you will end up with users wasting the 
time of the IT staff and also probably having unreal expectations of the 
IT staff's own capabilities.  You will also find the admins having to 
deal with software and technologies that they are either unprepared for 
or cause them pull hair out or pass comment like "Did they really pay $10000 
for this <insert product here>?".

Users often expect their needs to be dealt with in advance of that
of the enterprise as well - security is one issue here.  When it comes down
to making things "simpler" for the poor little cherubs security is one of the
first things that gets diluted.  This is sub-optimal in any IT dept these 
days.  When I see/hear of an IT dept that lets their users get away with 
security loopholes ("because it makes it easier"), it's only a step away 
from a lawsuit or a cracker attack.  It is generally a good indicator 
that there will be other systemic problems elsewhere in the IT infrastructure.

Users will often 
ask for features or improvements that make their own jobs easier at the 
expense of the IT staff responsible for making these changes.

The thing about products like Exchange (and most other MS products) is that 
they are absolutely designed with the user experience in mind, not that 
of the admin who has to clean up afterwards.   While the experience a user 
has with Exchange may be a good one, the work that goes on within the
admin area to provide these services may well be 2x the load for just a 
few feature improvements that users really don't need and can live without. 

When you start letting users drive the outcomes of your IT strategy, you 
will end up with no admins who want to work there as the support load 
requirements increase and you end up with a dogs breakfast of conflicting 
protocols and systems that require increasing workarounds to improve on.
In an IT environment where the user community is determing the direction 
of technology or the overall IT strategy, you may likely find a high 
turnover of admin staff or they will have decreasingly poor morale.

I know we don't have jobs if there's no users but I think letting them drive 
the strategy or your business plan is a bad idea.  A well planned IT strategy 
would put some proposals to the users that were predefined and then let the 
users pick the one that suited their needs best.  Otherwise you end up, like 
in so many IT depts having to deal with clueless managers who make decisions 
on products or systems based on how good the .gifs look in their 
browser instead of focusing on the content.


Rachel Polanskis                 University of Western Sydney, Nepean
Senior UNIX Admin                PO Box 10, Kingswood NSW 2747
Systems && Operations            Information Technology Services, Kingswood
r.polanskis@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx    Phone: +61 (0247) 360 291