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The CEO's Wife Is Killing Us!

By decalant ·
When the CEO's wife decided she wanted a Blackberry wireless email device about a year ago, our entire IT department (four of us - a group of contractors hired to replace a poor previous IT group) deliberated for days over how to handle the situation.

The old IT folks had allowed her to keep corporate equipment at home and had supported her. We were worried about the implications of this - she is not a corporate employee and the setup would be out of our control - BUT, she is the CEO's wife. In the end she got a brand-new computer and a Blackberry.

At first things went well, but the environment in which she worked became unstable after awhile. She was using a product for the Blackberry that was initially intended for demo purposes: the Desktop Redirector. We needed to make a change to the Blackberry setup.

Later, she wanted MS Office. Our helpdesk agent installed it at the corporate office from a network share. This caused problems down the road and an onsite visit hadto be scheduled to reinstall using the CDs so that the installation could be modified later.

Through all of these relatively minor issues she has steadily voiced what we all perceive to be unreasonable expectations regarding the performance of her equipment. She has repeatedly jabbed the support staff who try to assist her. She reports how "incompetent" we are because we cannot prevent a 5MB attachment from violating her ISP-imposed mail quota.

Consider some of her most common statements:
"I don't care."
"I do not want to call and talk to any technical person. I should not have to."
"You are being paid to make these computers work."

This situation is critical. We are in danger of losing our jobs and my boss who has been working in the IT industry for 19 years has never been placed in a situation like this before. We are at a loss. Can anyone please provide guidance?

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One way to use standardization

by JamesRL In reply to Standardize, Standardize, ...

One fortune 100 company I worked for had a great policy. Load what ever you want. If you need to call the help desk to support it, back up your data and someone will come and reimage your machine back to the supported standard. After that you are on your own.

Sounds harsh but its the only way to keep support costs under control.


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Corporate Ethics and Security

by jcmanthey In reply to The CEO's Wife Is Killing ...

The first question is one of corporate ethics. What could possibly be the rationale for providing anyone, employee or non-employee, corporate IT or other resources for non-company personal use? When the answer is "because the CEO says so," it is an indication of systemic problems at the company that start right at the top.

One former employer of mine had this kind of thing going on. Senior management seemed more focused on this type of thing than making the company successful. It's interesting how the company itself was never very successful and went through multiple downsizings.

The security question is pretty straightforward. This more or less opens a door for anyone to walk right through and help themselves to corporate IT infrastructure and data.

I know it's a tough job market, but it might be worth looking elsewhere for a new opportunity. It doesn't sound like this company will be successful. It also doesn't sound like the IT support group really has the opportunity to be successful.

Good luck.

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2 Drives with Deepfreeze

by zaferus In reply to The CEO's Wife Is Killing ...

I would and tell the bosses wife that you are going to "personally" come out and rebuild the system. Put in a large 2nd drive, transfer all of her data to here (or if you don't know where it may be hiding put the entire drive contents on the 2nd drive).

Then rebuild the system, install all drivers, all of her programs and everything she says she needs. Now install deep freeze. Point all data related directories to the 2nd drive. Now no matter how badly she screws something up a simple reboot will restore her defaults.

Now your only problem will be when she wants to install something else on her system. But it may be the lesser of the two evils if you guys have to support her to come and do this as needed.

If you have a work order system make sure you keep careful logs of your time spent.


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Simple Have some Balls

by wolfcon In reply to 2 Drives with Deepfreeze

I have ran into this problem and the best approach is treat her as an employee. Document everything and provide her with the official rules and regs on what the Corp does and does not allow.

Remember the soft touch but if she is burning up your time putting you behind on mission critical projects or SOP's fire off a detailed problem of the situation. Unless the CEO is ignorant he knows what a pain in the Butt his wife is. I would ask for written hard copy of his request of what he expects you to do and how much or little.

Secondly, be straight with her is that your position is to design, maintain and protect the IT working of the Corp. If she cannot follow the corp guidelines or is one of those users that constantly messes with settings lock her down.

After she loses her critical information several times at her doing, explain it to her. My favorite line is there are classes out the for novive computer users, taking one would bring your knowledge up to a point of where you won't be making these repetitive mistakes putting yourself in these problem situations. Have some Balls Man...

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Not a great solution

by johne3112 In reply to 2 Drives with Deepfreeze

Using DeepFreeze in this case might be counter-productive. With all the security updates from SP2, AV software, etc.. you'd have to start a running schedule of maint. to unfreeze the drive for updating. This could be an added drain on resources.

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Thats what the 2nd drive is for

by zaferus In reply to Not a great solution

Programs that require updates and modifications can go on the 2nd drive. Windows updates would be a problem, but it is a home computer and not a network resource...

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Make them buy a T1

by VirtualGardener In reply to The CEO's Wife Is Killing ...

I would suggest that you consider adding the CEOs house directly to the network. Tell them that the ony way you can address her concerns is to add her computer to the network as a WAN location. Then your Office installation would work fine over the network, your Blackberry software redirector can be installed on your Exchange server and you would have direct control over her mail box size limits. If the boss really wants you to support her in every way possible, wave a bill under his face for VPN software and physical connectivity costs, or even a T1. Tell him this is the only way you can properly address her concerns. She is asking for support and services you cannot deliver without the right resources. Wink wink, nudge nudge. If you are in complete centralized control, this problem should evaporate. Assuming she has Win XP and you are running Active Directory, there is very little other than hardware you cannot fix remotely. Maybe the expense of adding her to the network will make him back off. If this really is a board controlled incorporation, this should also make him back off since he would have to go on record authorizing the expenses for this. Lastly, document, document, document.

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Where to write

by weeGeordie In reply to The CEO's Wife Is Killing ...

As a previous boss of mine explained it to me, "Write your complaints on the back of your paycheque". Also remember that business is not a democracy.

Good luck

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Problem Solving 101

by LeftExit In reply to The CEO's Wife Is Killing ...

Putting aside the fact that she is not an employee, I agree with her. That is what you are paid for. Stop whining! Make it work.

Seems to be you have made several mistakes.

No policy to prevent this situatiuon, or otherwise CYA from unauthorized software, plus setting reasonable expectations, etc..

No escalation procedures for issues.

Not to mention you put a network install onto a remote machine, and it sounds like you didn't account for automatic updates.

Lastly, you fail to mention whether this impacts your teams ability to provide service to the company, which is all that really matters.

Look. I believe that CEO wife thing is unethical and just poor business, BUT... Someone just like her could be the VP of sales tomorrow.

Get policy in place. Get procedure in place. Make damn sure you know what your doing. Document, and be nice.

Explain why things do not work to her expectations. Offer alternatives that meet her expectations. If she is simply incorrigable, then you will have to escalate to your boss or to HR.

If you lose your job, you have a pretty good case of wrongful termination, assuming that you exhausted all options.

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by fooboo In reply to Problem Solving 101

Problem Solving 101..."That is what you are paid for."

The original message states:
"...she is not a corporate employee and the setup would be out of our control..." So that ISN'T what they are paid for. They are paid to look after the contractually agreed systems that are under their control.

"Stop whining! Make it work." How?

"She reports how "incompetent" we are because we cannot prevent a 5MB attachment from violating her ISP-imposed mail quota."

ISP imposed! Should they crack her ISPs security, gain admin rights, and modify her account or is it something they can't control so can't be expected to "make it work"?

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