Welcome to the Department of “NO!”

Have a quick look around the IT press, and you will notice a number of articles discussing BYOD and the Cloud as being disruptive to the industry. This isn’t exactly a new trend either – it happened with the original PC, Inkjet Printers, PDAs, Laptops and many other new products. They were all revolutionary at the time, and allowed people to work in new ways.

Many people in IT get defensive and even angry about new tech. Someone outside IT will buy a shiny new toy, then try to use it at work. It might work and no one in IT is the wiser, but it often leads to confrontation between the user, their manager, and IT. Do this a few times and you quickly become known as the Department of “NO!”.

So how do you avoid the bad rep, without supporting a bunch of crap you didn’t choose and do not want? It sounds pretty soft, but the most effective strategy I have found is improving communication with users and management.  If people feel like they can talk to you and your team there will be fewer surprises, and everyone will be happier.

There are many approaches to improving communication. Simple things like a walk around the office once a day, fixing a few quick problems and answering questions can help improve visibility and prevent bigger problems. Talk to managers on a regular basis, they usually know what tools their teams actually need. Check in with each department head a few weeks before yearly budgets, find out what they need for the coming year.

Don’t be the team that says no, find out what people are trying to do and why. You may already have a solution they weren’t aware of. Some ideas are crap, but try not to say no outright, there might be something worthwhile in it.  If you can’t do something then communicate why not, people often don’t understand limitations like PCI compliance.

Not every solution is ideal, but it’s better to be involved than end up supporting something truly terrible. Things will slip through, mistakes will occur. Be prepared to fix them – it can be messy. Be consistent, communicate and document as you go.

What are your thoughts? How have you made things better? Do you just say no? Comment below.

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