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an attempt to cut support costs, the IT folks at Disney announced their decision
to standardize on which PDAs they’ll support internally. As expected, this
attempt to bring order to the chaos of unrestrained PDA proliferation has
resulted in outraged wails of anguish. Even outsiders seized the opportunity to
comment on their internal policies. “Disney
Lays Down Anti-Palm PDA Policy” was the headline of one article, “Walt
Disney bans every PDA but two” being
suppose these headlines make good copy (they certainly caught my attention) they
don’t really reflect the good intentions of anyone attempting to create a
allow support groups to maximize the efficiency of limited budgets. It would be
incredibly naïve to believe that any IT department can provide a consistent
level of competent support for every device, operating system and application
available to a credit card crazy consumer. The alternative is to zero in on a
handful of products devoting all our energies to their support.
in” poses a challenge, how does a support group decide which products to
support? How do we create standards while minimizing the wails of anguish?
growth: Regardless of what you chose,
does it have a chance of meeting those ill-defined future needs? Remember the
early competition between IBM PC and the Mac? The IBM PC had several expansions
slots, the MAC had none (one in later models). What would we use those slots
for? Who knew? But we knew one thing with a certainty. A device with fewer slots
was less flexible than one with more slots. We chose the IBM PC over the Mac for
this reason more than any other.
issues: How well do the different alternatives under consideration fit into
the context of existing technologies and services? The closer the match, then
the more reasonable it becomes to standardize on that alternative.
cost: This is a one time cost. It’s incurred once and usually pales next
to ongoing support and integration issues. Never the less it is something that
figures strongly in the standardization process.
issues: Ultimately the purpose of
standardization is to make the user’s life easier NOT that of the support
team. A user community will resist any difficult to learn product, regardless of
how glowingly you paint the future benefits.
cost: (If FAITS was easier to remember than FAITH then this would be labeled
“Support costs”.) What will it cost to support this product into the future?
Which is “easier” to support?
these five issues and ask what happens if you’re attempting to support a dozen
different products. You’ll notice that training and acquisition costs only
increase incrementally as you add products. It’s the future issues,
integration and general support costs that skyrocket out of control when you try
and support the world.
is one of those management strategies that make so much sense, everyone sees the
So? In the
interests of good management we should go through the FAITH analysis, decide
what’s best and then announce our decision. Right? Wrong! Do that and you’ll
create more problems than you can possibly handle. In the resulting firestorm of
office politics, you’ll be lucky to keep your job. Imposing
standards this way, is almost impossible, despite our best intentions when we
is to work through the FAITH process with those who will be affected by the
final decision. Every decision has a cost associated with it. You could provide
the highest level of support for all products if you had an unlimited budget. If
users understand all aspects of the FAITH process, if they understand the
consequences of choosing one standard over another, then they can, will and do
make the decisions that serve them best.
there’s a catch. If IT has a built-in bias that has nothing to do with the
FAITH process, then handing the decision of standards to the user will thwart
that hidden agenda. A question IT always has to ask themselves is - Are
standards intended to serve us or our users?
de Jager is a speaker, writer & consultant. Contact him via [email protected]
Peter de Jager is a speaker, writer & consultant. Contact him via [email protected]
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