Software

Tech feels penalized for reporting license violations

A tech reports a shortfall of software licenses to the IT manager and is reprimanded for her diligence. If you were the tech, what would you do?


When TechRepublic member Shelia reported software license violations, she was reprimanded for insisting that more licenses be purchased and now fears that she will be fired. Read her story and see if you can help. At the end of this article you can review the outcome of a previous What Would You Do? scenario, "Help a member escape a corporate vs. regional office power struggle."

Sheila's story
Shelia is the senior support tech/network administrator for the smallest free-to-air television company in her country. She was hired to lessen the IT manager’s workload and migrate the company from a peer-to-peer network to "something useful." As part of this migration, the IT staff would also roll out a large number of workstations, preconfigured with Windows 2000 and Office 2000, to accommodate an increase in the number of end users. Shelia recommended they use Symantec Ghost to keep the rollout process efficient.

During the rollout, Shelia realized that even though some of the workstations were replacement machines, her company would soon exceed its licensing agreements for both the OS and business suite software. She immediately e-mailed the IT manager regarding this situation. After two weeks passed with no reply, Shelia sent a second e-mail. Again, two more weeks went by and still no answer. During this time they completed the rollout, and the company was in violation of several licensing agreements.

Shelia again e-mailed the IT manager, politely stressing the need to purchase the required licenses. In this message she gave him an exact dollar amount for the additional licenses and attached a document outlining the potential cost to the company if it were audited. Two days later Shelia is "on the mat" before the IT manager and the CEO—explaining why she is so insistent about "spending money needlessly."

After this meeting, it was clear to Shelia that her manager and the CEO did not share her concern, and any attempts to pursue the subject would be fruitless. Shelia's working relationship with her manager has been seriously damaged, making her day-to-day life awkward and uncomfortable. To make matters worse, Shelia now feels that her job is on the line.

Shelia believes that she has been penalized for trying to do her job and wants your advice on dealing with the situation. "Should I have dropped the subject after the first e-mail?" Shelia asked, "Should I have never sent the e-mail in the first place? What should I do now?"

Shelia went on to say, "I do not have a good understanding for the role of support techs in licensing investigations. I reported the violation believing that I was protecting the company from a potentially devastating fine, but I am left wondering whether this was the right thing to do. I strongly suspect that if the company is fined, that despite my e-mails, I will be fired because licensing is my responsibility."

We want to hear what you have to say!
You can submit your ideas via e-mail or by posting a discussion item at the end of this column. A week after the publication of a scenario, we'll pull together the most interesting solutions and common themes from the discussion. We will later present them with the situation's actual outcome in a follow-up article. You may continue to add discussion items after the week has elapsed, but to be eligible for inclusion in the follow-up article, your suggestions must be received within a week of the scenario's publication.

Help a tech escape an office power struggle
In a previous article, we presented the case of a regional support tech who unwittingly became embroiled in a power struggle between her company's corporate and regional offices. We left the tech trying to decide whether or not to accept the responsibility of supporting an additional regional office, a move which could either result in her being fired or promoted, depending upon the outcome of the conflict. Most TechRepublic members' responses suggested the tech either accept the promotion or simply quit.

Staying with the company without accepting the promotion was not perceived as a viable option because the tech would continue to be a victim of the ongoing battle, and worse yet, would be reporting to a manager who is determined to hold back the tech’s career.

Many members acknowledged that accepting the promotion is fraught with risks and should not be considered without first doing one or more of the following:
  • Talk to corporate HR to make them aware of the situation in the event that the regional office manager fires the tech.
  • Talk to the local VP to make him aware of the whole situation and elicit his support.
  • Obtain a guarantee from corporate that upon accepting the additional responsibility, the tech will no longer be reporting to the regional office.

Insist that corporate talk directly with the local office manager rather than expecting the tech to manage the situation.

Several members reported having been in very similar situations: In once case, member Rbernados reported cooperating with corporate and being promoted as a result; member Master of Web could see no way forward and resigned.

So what really happened?
Since publication of the scenario the tech has informed corporate that she cannot accept the additional responsibility of the regional office without the cooperation of her office manager or a written statement guaranteeing her employment with corporate in the event she is fired by her regional manager. Meanwhile the office manager has informed the local VP of the whole situation, and he has made it clear to the tech that she cannot remain in the local office and report to corporate because he sees this as a violation of his authority. Still undecided as to her best course of action, the tech is updating her resume.

Meanwhile, we have received some positive follow up information regarding the "Help frustrated tech escape a backup dilemma" scenario. Grace, the support tech who was having problems with Ken changing tapes at a remote location, informs us that she is now using the ISDN link and terminal services to track the backups on the remote server. She reports that right now, “[Ken] is away on leave for a month and there is someone else filling in for him; I have been keeping a log of successful/unsuccessful backups and so far the temp receptionist hasn't missed a tape. Meanwhile the old general manager has taken a position within the Asia Pacific region, and we have a new general manager who doesn't play favorites or politics in any way and who is very proactive when it comes to IT. If the permanent receptionist slips back into a pattern of forgetting tapes, I will have the logs and a more sympathetic manager to show them to.” We hope for Grace’s sake, that this situation continues to improve.

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