Friday, June 15, 2007

Rules vs Rationales

In deploying desktop technology, we strive for standardization to make this a managable task. If every employee had a different make of PC, a different version of software, it quickly becomes a desktop management nightmare.

As part of this standardization, IT departments come up with rules / policies, like no email PST files, size limit on email, no IM software  (Note: I am not advocating these specific rules). When a user asks for something against policy, they are told "no", often with no explanation. This is where the stereo-typed, difficult IT support persona comes from.

What I prefer to do, in place of quoting policy, is to explain in rational terms the reason behind the rule. We can't support rogue wireless devices plugged into our network because it could breach are security or compromise our network performance. I'll even quote examples of past issues, which is often where the policy comes from in the first place.

The difficult thing about providing a rational reason is that you need to be prepared for an alternate view or argument that shows that the example reason is not at issue (wireless is completely separate from network and therefore poses no risk).

Technology managers need to be careful not to preach policy, but instead engage in rational dialog to reach the desired standardization outcomes.

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