Regarding my previous question from the weekend about where you draw the line between keeping up a good relationship with your users and letting them walk all over you with non-work technology issues, I would mostly err on the side of letting them walk over you. There’s definitely a line that needs to be drawn in most situations, you don’t want to find your techs spending all their time cleaning up spyware infections on home machines, but at the same time, techs simply have to be accessible to users. The consequences of having users afraid, or unwilling, to come to the IT Department are too dangerous. This is how you end up with unknown WAP’s being plugged in to the network unprotected, outsiders sitting down at a computer with full network access, users sharing passwords with each other to gain access to resources, etc.
If your users are routing around you because they’re alienated from you, it’s going to lead to a whole heap of problems that you really don’t want.
Now, in a legal environment it’s a little different than you’re typical corporate or small business environment. You have partners. Lots, and lots of partners. They “own” the place, they pay your salary and you pretty much have to do anything they ask you to. Unless senior partners have specifically laid out where the line is drawn, you don’t really have the authority to say no to anyone. Most times that’s ok. Most of our partners will ask for your help, but they’ll also understand that it might not be the top priority for you right at this moment. I’m cool with that. I’ll help folks with most technology issues if they give me the leeway to put it on the back burner if there’s a real work-related issue that needs addressed.
Now that means I’ve done things like taught someone how to use iDVD on his iBook, showed someone how to insert a home digital movie into a PowerPoint show, created a banner for a child’s school banquet invitation in Publisher, and converted a wedding guest list into an Excel spreadsheet. I didn’t mind any of it. I’ve done those things during slower times at the helpdesk, and the way I figure it, these partners pay me to be here and do what they need done. If that means working on these sorts of projects, until someone tells me otherwise, I’ll keep right on doing them.