The IT is crap

August 13th, 2015

Is it unreasonable to ask….

…when you say ‘the IT is crap’, is it you?

Are you referring to the network? The device? The application? The output? Or the information itself – the data or report you are working with?

‘The IT is crap at <insert name of your particular organisation>’ is a comment as common as it is meaningless. It allows us to vent and that usually makes us (yes, I do it too!) feel better, BUT, it does not even identify ‘the problem’ let alone solve it!

Unfortunately for us ‘users’ of a system, the truth is:

  • the networks and devices are highly resilient and reliable:
    • if properly specified, configured and maintained;
    • if appropriately used
  • the applications do, precisely, what they have been programmed to do;
  • we are often (though not always) involved in specifying the programme (what the system does) – so what is programmed is commonly what we (or somebody on our behalf asked for);
  • we usually (though again not always) sign it off (a process call User Acceptance Testing) agreeing that it does what we said we wanted.

If then we experience the IT as ‘crap’ then, maybe, just maybe, it is us?

As with any problem, we cannot solve it (or get it solved) if we cannot be specific about it, and, we cannot be specific about it unless and until we have sufficient knowledge! If we are uninformed, even uninterested ‘users’ then we will get what we are given – like it or not. So, we have some responsibility to inform ourselves enough to be able, at least, to specify which aspect of the whole it is that we are not happy with! Failure to do that is simply neglectful. Nobody expects all drivers to be expert vehicle technicians – it is one of the joys of modern vehicles that we don’t have to be – BUT it is no good complaining that ‘it doesn’t go’ if we do not know enough of the technology to refuel the vehicle….

So, let’s do some simple diagnostics that might be helpful:

IS:       Consider the applications (programmes):

Is the programme intended for the purpose to which you are putting it?

Applications are VERY specific, they ONLY work one way, they can only tell you what you have already told them AND (except by accident) they do the same thing, the same way, every time.

Are you following the process that has been programmed into the application or are you doing it ‘your’ way?

If the application isn’t doing what you want, running the process the way you want then perhaps it wasn’t specified that way?

Are you getting the ‘wrong’ answers to your queries? (i.e. it isn’t telling you what you expected to hear?)

You will have heard the expression ‘GIGO’ (garbage in, garbage out)…

IT:        the network, PCs, tablets, phones and peripherals

“Recycle the IO Interface” – or to be jargon free, turn it off, wait 5 minutes, turn it back on again and see if that fixes it! If it doesn’t then you probably need proper help!

Most machine based problems are solved this way. The 5 minute wait is reputedly something to do with allowing residual electric charge to drain from the components. Whatever, it creates the illusion that something of consequence is happening and allows time for coffee and cake.

You:    the user….

Q: Is it just you or is everyone having the same problem?

A: If it is everyone, call the help desk, make more coffee, buy more cake and wait – there is nothing you can do about the problem!

Q: Now the machine, is working but you can’t get in?

A:Password problem?

That is another problem with those pesky IT people, they keep demanding ‘log ins’, how is anybody supposed to remember all the passwords when they keep making you change them. (It couldn’t possibly be that you forgot it, could it? Or did the post-it note fall of the screen). Phone the help desk (again) and request a password reset.

While you are waiting, buy some more cake, stand near the coffee machine and moan about how slow the IT help desk is, ‘that’s the second time today already…they are so slow, I’m not getting anything done’ is a good opener!

Now, the IT people know this as a ‘picnic’ problem – ‘problem in chair, not in computer’ – whatever you may think about them, they probably think the same about you!