It seems that IT staffs are annually given more work to do
than they were the previous year; more new and complex projects to implement
while continuing to support an ever expanding list of yesterdays systems. The increase in work appears to be disproportionate
to the increase in new help hired. Speaking
with friends in IT at other companies I discover the exact same scenario. This is odd because I also know people
looking for work in IT, but who cant seem to land a job despite their
substantial efforts. So what is the
answer to getting more work done with less?
More systems management utilities and appliances? Server virtualization? Robocopying ourselves? No, I say its one word empowerment.
Give power to the people, or users in this case. No, I am not inebriated as I write this. And yes, Ive witnessed my fair share of dumb
user moments; even contributed on a couple of those occasions. Im not saying make your users local
administrators of their workstations and hand them the keys to the server room
so you can play golf. Page me if Im
What I am saying is identify and enlist the help of one or
two power users as you are implementing a new system; preferably two in case
one leaves the company. Youd be
surprised how helpful a user serving as the system champion and front-line
support person can be. Many times the
empowered person will end up being the user who stands to benefit the most from
the new system. Its in their best
interest for the system to be successful and remain in proper working
condition, and it frees IT staff to concentrate on rolling out new applications
and troubleshooting infrastructure level issues.
What level of empowerment am I suggesting? I am suggesting that a user serve as pseudo
system administrator for the day-to-day functions such as creating user
accounts within the application, resetting application level passwords, and
running applicable system maintenance tools as needed. Basically, anything that can be done from
within the application and from the users PC should be fair game. The key is to remove yourself from the daily
operation of the application, and empower a designated user to accomplish these
Defining role based system access levels is extremely
beneficial. Many times, applications
will have granular security which is capable of hiding groups of functions not
needed by all users. This level of
granularity should be managed by someone intimately familiar with the system that
can fulfill user access requests. Functions
needed for system administration should only be accessible by the power user. All other access to the system should be
predicated on what they need available to perform their jobs.
Empowered users can serve as front-line support for other end
users, intercepting many requests before they reach your desk in the form of
support incidents. In the days leading
up to a system go-live event or immediately after, go over documented steps to
resolve common issues and requests. Is
the user unable to print because the printer is paused or out of paper? Teach them to fix common problems and it not
only frees some of your time, but it also makes for happier users. Their issues are resolved quicker because
they wont need to wait for your schedule to become light enough to help
Empowered users can prove extremely beneficial in
communication. For instance, I have
found them to be very helpful with relaying system downtime intervals due to
server reboots, patch installations, etc.
It is much easier to provide pertinent system information to one user
and have them disseminate that information to the other end users. A power user can also provide details
(sometimes in the form of screenshots) about a reported problem which can prove
beneficial when troubleshooting and working with the vendor.
Empowered users can accomplish many things, but most
importantly they can make your job easier.
Dont leave them out of your plans when rolling out that next
system. And, as always, let me know your
thoughts and experiences related to this topic.