Five steps to get on your IT department's good side
Author's note: This is another entry that's been sitting in my drafts folder for years and which, after three glasses of wine, I've now decided to publish. This one is from April 2007, about four months before I left the government IT world for the world of commercial product development. It's funny how my posts are much less humorous when I'm enjoying my job than they are when I'm frustrated. But, then again, working with non-technical end users generates a lot more funny stories than working with top-notch developers. Oh, well.
The corporate IT world can be frustrating at times. The IT department is often viewed as a cost center, a necessary liability, rather than a helpful resource. As a result, it often seems to the IT people like the entire organization is against them. This leads to frustration, apathy, hostility, and using a sniper rifle to pick off people walking in from the parking lot. Thus I present a few tips to keep your IT department on your good side.
- Don't report a problem by just saying you're "getting error messages" on your computer. We're the IT department, not the Psychic Friends Network. You're going to have to be a little more specific if you want any help.
- If you do call about "getting error messages," then at least have the decency to tell us what the messages say. I know fixing computer problems may seem like magic at times, but we do need something to go on. If you dismissed the error dialog, didn't take a screenshot, didn't write down the message, don't remember what it said, don't know what application raised it, and don't remember what you were doing when it came up, there's not a hell of a lot we can do for you.
- Please realize that "computer people" don't automatically know everything there is to know about computers. I may work in the IT department, but that doesn't mean I can fix your computer myself. It also doesn't mean I can tell you how to do something in your CAD or GIS software. It's not like I practice drawing maps in my free time. We specialize too, you know.
- When requesting custom software, don't expect me to read your mind. I understand that you might not think of some things until after you start using the software. I have no problem with adding things later. In fact, I expect it. However, I really don't appreciate getting attitude because the program doesn't do X when nobody ever mentioned to me that it needed to do X.
- When you ask how to do something, pay attention to the answer. I don't mind showing you how to add a border to that cell in Excel. I do mind showing you how to do it once a week for a month. And the same goes for clearing out your deleted items in Outlook.
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