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slidersv's Journal: RE: Is A Bad Attitude Damaging The IT Profession?

Journal by slidersv

Whenever users have a problem with their email client or web browser that bars them from working, they have to fill out helpdesk tickets and wait for the help to arrive. They go to the kitchen for coffee thinking how their helpdesk system and the process involved is exceedingly inefficient and complicated. Then they wander around the office space, looking at all those "IT people" minding their own business, or talking to each other about subjects seemingly unrelated to work, but most importantly what users see is that none of these people are helping them. For user, seemingly all of the world's problems can be solved if one of those people just got off the chair, walked up to their computer and quickly fixed the problem. "Why won't they make just this one exception for me?" the user thinks. "The company is loosing quite a sum of money because I am not able to work. John from the network department here is just browsing news on the web. Surely he would have a minute to help me" But John refuses to help, and directs the user to the helpdesk. This is the reason the users feel abandoned and violated.
        Most professions have a visible virtue of expertise. That is, in most cases, we can clearly deviate between what is or is not the person's competence, visually or otherwise. When ten acres of vine crops are harvested over a single night by a monstrous machine with ten technicians making sure the machine does what it is supposed to, the purpose of technicians and the machine is clearly observable. When a heart surgeon performs a heart transplant, a bystander would observe the act with awe, hoping not to interrupt the process in any way. Observer of an architect designing a building would not be easily able to imagine the completed creation on the street, but he or she will certainly be able to admire the actual process of designing. These professions are all mature and well established. Our predecessors practiced in these fields for hundreds of years, and the boundaries of competence are clear. Architect is able to design a building, but not fix a crack in a poorly built wall. Heart surgeon is able to make a heart transplant, but will not be able to help a patient with gingivitis. And certainly monstrous harvesting robot is not able to plant new crops.
        Not all professions enjoy benefits of such maturity. Recently established information technology sector is one of the fields where all experts involved are still being generalized into a single group by the rest of the population. Persisting belief is that if anything is wrong with any IT component, any professional from any IT department is able to simply "fix it". Nothing could be farther from the truth, but for now only the IT professionals themselves recognize that.
        Just as the architect is not able to put wallpapers on the wall of the apartment, network architect is not able to help users with their email client problems. Whenever a patient goes to the ear nose and throat doctor to complain about their heart problem, they will be redirected at best, and insulted at worst. But what if the patient persist that the doctor look at their heart anyway, even if it lies out of doctor's field of competence? Patient will be greeted with anger and more insults. Ear nose and throat doctors know exactly where their competence ends, and the fact they studied all of the human anatomy in the course of their education does not change inaptness of the patient's request, or doctor's ability to help the patient. Doctor does not have the right tools, equipment, environment or state of mind to efficiently help this pest patient. Maybe after many years of study and practice, the doctor would be able to help, but when there are many more patients just outside the door, and the qualified heart surgeon is able to help the patient in a matter of minutes, the request is just unreasonable. Ear nose and throat doctor would eventually label the patient stupid, and forcefully escort the stupid patient out of the office.
        Just as the first doctors many thousands of years ago were able to universally, but very inefficiently, help any patient with any problem, any person in IT was able to help with any IT problem. Was... Branches of IT sector are more divided than ever, and areas of expertise are continuously drifting apart. With the expanding field's depth, no longer can anyone help with anything. Modern IT sector boasts experts for every branch, that are not interchangeable. Processes in IT, including helpdesk, have been installed for a reason. Employees want to concentrate on the tasks they like, understand and do efficiently. Nobody wants to learn a completely new area of expertise, just because some pest colleague does not want to understand the fact that his or her problem lies way out of the competence.
        So the problem with grumpy users lies with... well, users. If any business wants to eliminate this problem, they should patiently educate users as to the reason WHY the helpdesk process has been put in place and WHY they should follow it. I'm confident that when users understand just how much money the company looses if the top programmer would spend a day troubleshooting outlook, just to pinpoint a problem to a domain policy that the programmer is not able to solve anyway, they would be less agitated when filling out the helpdesk tickets. But more importantly users will stop bothering us, and won't have to hear the dreaded "No, I will not fix your computer"
                                Users don't let users stay uninformed.

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RE: Is A Bad Attitude Damaging The IT Profession?

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