When do work-arounds hurt you?

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That last post brings to mind an interesting idea in my mind. One that I’d like to get other’s input on because although I’ve only been at my job for a year or so, I’m beginning to understand that the common view of the IT Department had been in the past that we don’t always know what we’re doing, and that sometimes we created workarounds because we didn’t actually know how to fix a problem or were too lazy to figure it out.

I hope that I don’t leave people with that impression in my personal dealings with them. I certainly try to find any possible solution to a problem before I give in and simply create a work-round, unless I’m pressed for time. Even then, however, I think it’s important to enable the user to use the workaround but continue to find a permanent solution.

Sometimes, however, you simply can’t provide a permanent solution. Sometimes the software just isn’t designed to do what they want to do. Sometimes there’s a bug in third-party software that they haven’t fixed and you can’t do anything about.

The question is, at what point do your users cross over that line between seeing you as the master of finding work-arounds, to the guy who’s too lazy or incompetent to find real solutions?

tags: TechSupport

  1. Marc
    | Reply

    Short answer: if you have given your best effort and an “honest workaround” is the alternative, then that’s what they get.

    If you look at it from the client perspective, they have a priority list: is it working, doing what I want it to do, in a timely manner, in a way that’s easy to use. Our workarounds typically deal with the latter priorities, while we seem to hustle more when it’s the first two priorities.

    We will always have clients that want one-button-to-press answers (Staples-easy?) and have it work every time. These are the same people that think an anti-virus program should clean a computer 100% and that they are safe when they install a nanny-net minder for the kid’s computer.

    All of this change we face daily and the need to keep up does have a benefit: job security! [Until a troglodyte manager experiences a major computer glitch and thinks it’s your fault.]

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