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Would All You Users Please Just Behave!

By: Ed Hoppitt

A significant slice of the problems that those of us running IT are dealing with today comes down to badly behaved users. In fact I spoke about the issue of badly behaved users in my presentation at VMworld last year.

What I mean by “badly behaved” is that users are becoming more and more impatient and demanding.  They are used to having their own way in the consumer world of technology. And now they’re bringing their impulsive, demanding and impatient behavior to the workplace.

I get it.  Time is money.  Users and business managers who fund IT are impatient because their customers are impatient.

But as IT professionals, we are now dealing with agility and responsiveness requirements as much or more than efficiently provisioning and managing the storage/compute/whatever infrastructure resource we think we are supposed to be focused on.

I’m not just talking about the issue of provisioning passwords for someone – that’s the easy bit. The real issue is created when you add the magic of ‘Self Service’ to the mix. How long does a user have to wait for an application on their iPad? About as long as it takes to download from the App Store. They expect a similar experience from corporate IT portal.

Do they forget the times when getting a new application at work meant installing from multiple tapes/disks/CD-ROM’s? You had to  fill  in a request form. Then someone posted you the media on which your application existed. Then you installed it (not of course forgetting the 3 or 4 failed installations that you’d try before you got it to work). I’m going off topic.

My point is that as part of deploying and managing IT, we need to realize that the expectations of users have changed significantly.  Unless you factor rising user expectations into your IT strategy, you will fail at the most important part – ensuring that people are having a good experience.

What can an IT Ops professional do to manage rising expectations?

  • For starters – when someone presses a button in a self-service interface, give him or her confirmation that what they expect to happen is happening. Don’t leave people wondering as to what’s going on.  The same is true when it comes to provisioning – the longer it takes, the more inclined people will be to over-order, over-anticipate and under utilize.
  • Also, give people the ability to take resources as easily as they can give them back. If someone stops using something, encourage them to return those resources, credit it back to their ‘credit card’ of IT services they can purchase…. Turn self-service into an incentive for good behavior.
  • Focus effort on communicating value back to your business and to your users – or people don’t see and realize what you are doing.   Tell people what these changes will mean and sell them the benefits. So often IT does what it does inside the IT microcosm without learning from Marketing colleagues about a little self-promotion.
  • And if you really want to impress users, ask them what they want. As technologist and engineers we sometimes forget this important step.

As an IT admin, you can also directly ask users what features they want to see from IT or what would be useful to them. Reinforcing the idea that IT is there to make their lives easier can help persuade users to follow correct IT practices.

It’s not hard to realize that users work for the people that pay IT’s bills, therefore….

Happy users = Happy IT

This is a modified post from Ed Hoppitt’s personal blog, Gathering Clouds.