Posts filed under ‘Policy and Practices’

The Management Manifesto

When you talk about management, what comes to mind? If you work for those few companies who seem to have all their ducks in a row, touting the dream-team of management, consider yourself lucky and move along. This post isn’t for you. This post is for the majority of people out there, the people who can’t help but simply shake their head when they think of management.

Management is a tricky game. One must balance efficiency with employee wellbeing. That’s something that isn’t really mentioned enough: employee wellbeing. It will not be covered much here but there is a great article in a recent COMPUTERWORLD about that topic.

First, let us define management. There are two aspects, the people – that is the individual staff members that form the hierarchical structure of the company, and the act of management – the things that they do with their time to work towards goals and objectives. The failure of management, in both forms, is rarely exclusive to one aspect but the big failures tend to muck it up on the noun side of management. They aren’t sure how to manage successfully. College didn’t do them much of a service.

One popular failure in the arena of management is due to lack of accountability. This happens when upper-level management has personal attachment to other staff members or when political agendas are involved. The first of which, in my opinion, is the worse of the two. Political ideology and agendas are a pox to management where personal relationships between management, be it romantically involved or just friends, is a clear cancerous tumor to the entire process. The signs are never very clear but when there is no accountability, it’s noticeable.

Relationships in the work place are dangerous. When I say relationships, I should make a few things clear. I am not referring to the relationships you build as a team even when you share the occasional drink at a local pub after some serious brain-sessions. What I mean is this: if you no longer feel that you can point out a person’s short-comings, you have gotten too close. Now, this is not to say that there are not tactful ways of telling someone they lack the appropriate management skills. One should always employ the appropriate amount of tact when dealing with tough subjects, but that should not stop it from occurring all together. In such a case, we would have moved outside of a working relationship.

Holding management accountable is difficult for the average employee. I know what you’re saying: I simply need to get to five o’clock and then the nightmare ends, right? If that is your opinion, please stop reading. You have more issues than I can possibly account for in this article. There are ways that you can hold management accountable for its actions or lack thereof. If you don’t want to involve yourself in the political game, it may be more difficult because this would require very sensitive movements through the chain of command. Just about every boss has a boss, sometimes you need to go out on a limb to enact change. If they all seem to lack the ability of proper management, find a new job.

Stay hopeful! If you’re in a bad situation and management is a brick wall, talk louder. Get people who can make a difference to hear you. It’s the only way you’re going to force change or, perhaps, get fired.

July 17, 2008 at 12:13 am Leave a comment

The Importance of IT Policy and Practice

The reliance on technology is increasing, and in many cases, technical reliance is the Achilles’ heel of companies, organizations and government bodies. This dependency creates a substantial need for competent and trustworthy IT staff but all-too-often, IT Departments are neglected and poorly financed. Keeping technology “on the level” is often expensive and time-consuming. Many existing groups simply stay afloat when it comes to technology. The job of the IT staff is to patch holes in a sinking life-boat. This is an example of how many organizations “shoot themselves in the foot.”

Computer hardware and networking infrastructure is the main component in any enterprise architecture. The infrastructure consists of the workstations where users enter their data, the twisted pair cable that transmits that data, and the database that stores it. This is only a basic example but suffice to say, there is a lot of hardware and software that goes into operating a successful network. The IT staff is responsible for developing and maintaining the network framework.

Also, another key role of IT is to offer systems support. To do this, staff must be trained and knowledgeable on all software that will be utilized by the end user. Most technical savvy individuals can figure out software fairly easily. Software is developed logically (we hope) and therefore should be easily deciphered by logical people.

Support is fairly all-inclusive and ambiguous as terms go. Support also includes the mundane and ordinary things that need to be maintained on the servers and network. Should a user suddenly misplace or lose files due to drive failures or user error, the competent IT staff will be able to restore or repair the issue. This is where policies and practices are extensively tested.

Policies and practices are the fundamental laws set by administrators to create a logical set of instructions for dealing with real and hypothetical situations on a network. The importance of policy and implementation of policy can not be stressed enough. It is the only way to stay sane in the world of information technology. The greatest method of implementing successful policy and practice standards is IT governance.

Governance is a tool utilized by organizations to keep large groups of people abreast of the state and function of information technology. IT was once a stand-alone operation, a thug that had to strong-arm its users into acceptance of security practices and various restricting policies. Governance allows a much more democratic approach to running IT efficiently. Its primary function is to give non-IT personnel a chance to weigh in and democratically decide what priorities and standards IT will utilize. This removes one of the hardest tasks IT has to face: compliance.

In larger companies and government settings, policy compliance is rarely upheld by authorities in independent departments. The reason that IT policies are disregarded is because of authoritative power struggles. Any management personnel that does not report to IT management feels that IT has no control over their department and any type of reliance on IT is seen as a weakness on their part. This is a dramatization but I firmly believe that this is the case.

In many cases, IT is at the mercy of the compliance of the end-users. If a user brings in a thumb-drive from home that is infected with a virus, the network is compromised. If a user has the ability to download and install anything from the internet, the network is compromised. If a user brings in a virus and that virus corrupts the user’s data and it is lost, IT is compromised. It’s easy to see the relationship between IT and the user that it serves. Compliance of policies is extremely important. A policy would state something along these lines: “No user may use a USB drive without prior authorization. To receive authorization, please contact the IT staff.” At this point, the IT staff member assigned to this task would check the item for viruses and ensure that it is safe to connect to the network.

Policies and practices create secure networks and safe practices for users who operate applications. Without the technology, we are less productive and without value. It is important to operate within guidelines and enforce IT compliance. It is the only way to ensure that your data will be there when you need it.

July 16, 2008 at 5:26 pm 2 comments


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