3 Ways to Get More from IT — And Not Be a BOFH

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In today’s Ask the Admin, I will share my thoughts on how to have a more harmonious relationship with technology and those who support it.



The everyday problems we have with technology can be frustrating. As an IT guy, I share that frustrated feeling on an almost daily basis. At times, I think I would be better off just getting rid of the gadgets in my life. Many of the difficulties we experience, however, are actually not tech issues, but people issues. Before you vent anger at the IT guy, here are three things to bear in mind.

1. Understand How Apps Are Designed to Work — Accept Their Limitations

A good workman never blames his tools. However, we often expect the tools to work how we would like them to instead of the way they were designed. This sometimes happens in the name of finding creative solutions. While I’m all for thinking out-of-the-box, it is generally better to understand how an app is designed to be used and accept its limitations. This usually works better than trying to force a square peg into a round hole.

Moving from a different platform or app requires time to adapt and understand new concepts. Just because you need to press return at the end of every line on a typewriter, does not mean you have to do the same when using a word processor. Yes, I have actually seen somebody insist on pressing ENTER at the end of every line in Word. If an app works one way on Android, it might behave differently on Windows. Of course, if an app is genuinely not a fit for your purposes, then talk to IT about your concerns.

2. Let Support Professionals Drive the Conversation to Resolution… Oh, And Tell the Truth

Support professionals are trained to establish the root cause of a problem. This is the best way to find a satisfactory and lasting resolution. Be patient and describe the problem in detail. Make sure you are providing enough information so IT can understand the issue. If needed, be able to give enough information to recreate the issue.

Don’t leave out important details. Be honest and upfront from the beginning. Let them know if you installed additional software or changed a system setting before the issue occurred. Unless you are an expert spook, IT usually finds out the truth in the end.

3. Be Prepared to Change the Way You Work — Accept New Ideas

Even when it is good for them, most people do not like change. Change can be especially hard to accept if someone else has decided the best path. Assuming your IT department is trying to help you work more efficiently, a new way of doing things might not be so bad.

Getting users to change small habits is a battle IT faces every day. Users want to do things such as saving files to their desktops, instead of a network location. IT is also sometimes at fault for not communicating the benefits effectively. At the same time, we often resist just because any kind of change is undesirable. New ways of working and collaborating can not only make our lives easier but also improve the company’s bottom line. It can also make work more satisfying.