When Centralized IT Fails

My wife is an audiologist who uses specialized software to program hearing aids. When it breaks if she has administrative access, she can usually call the company and get it fixed, but when she’s working at a place where she doesn’t have administrative access, IT needs to get involved, and if they’re located off-site that can result in a painful and unproductive day.

When she told me this story, it got me thinking about how many IT shops operate this way. You probably have a number of locations, possibly around the world, and IT tends to be in one place, probably the headquarters wherever that may be.

In many cases, that’s not a problem. You can access desktops remotely and solve the average problem without difficulty and everyone’s happy, but the exceptions can be a problem, especially when IT is off-site and the software isn’t Microsoft Office, but some specialty software, even IT is probably unfamiliar with.

In those special cases, an IT pro needs to get in the car and drive to the site (or worse, get on a plane and fly to it) and while he or she does that, the party with the software problem has to wait and wait because without that software, the person can’t do their job and that’s a big problem.

Once the IT Pro arrives, it’s time to get up to speed. If it were any easy issue, well, you wouldn’t need to be onsite to fix it, right? And that’s the problem. In my wife’s case, she had to sit around most of the day without access to her computer while the IT guy tried to figure out how to solve the problem.

It wasn’t his fault he didn’t know this software. How would he? But this type of situation must get repeated on a daily basis around the world. You can’t be familiar with every piece of software, yet because you get sent to an unfamiliar situation, the end user is agitated and why wouldn’t she be? She’s stuck without a computer and can’t do her job.

It’s not an easy problem to resolve because you design workflows to deal with the most common problems, not the exceptions, but the challenge comes with situations that fall outside the norm.

And it’s not just an end user productivity issue either because an IT pro stuck off-site trying to solve an issue is also an IT productivity problem. That employee could be back at the office doing his or her regular work.

I’m not suggesting there are any easy answers to this type of situation because I’m sure someone will complain that I’m not offering more practical advice here, but it’s clearly an issue and one that IT departments have to deal with and consider.

How does your company deal with workflow exceptions? Does it have to be a productivity suck for all. Leave me a comment and let me know.

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