Don’t be an IT Order Taker!

Last year, the old Maytag Man (as portrayed by Gordon Jump) who sat bored in his dispatch office, waiting for a repair call that never came was replaced with a younger, more versatile model. Sad really, as I’m going to miss Ol’ Lonely, but I’d never emulate him, and you shouldn’t either!

Early on in my career, I worked in sales. I’ve carried that experience with me all through my career as it taught me the value of proactivity. There were those who sat under a tree of pre-qualified prospects, waiting for low hanging fruit to drop off the branch. These people rarely made quota, and eventually moved on or were let go.

Amazingly, many IT Managers (particularly in the Middle East) are the same way;  they perceive their job as merely order takers, putting out fires as they appeared, happy to go on maintaining the status quo.

Perhaps these IT Managers aren’t taking time to understand the business and it’s needs. It could also suggest that they lack confidence and/or initiative.

Whatever the case, salespeople and IT Managers alike who take  initiative will always have an advantage over those who don’t, and are less likely to be caught off-guard by issues that will [inevitably] arise.

So what can you do to be more proactive? Here are some suggestions that may help:

  1. “Don’t wait until it’s raining to mend your roof – do it now, while the sun is shining.” Nothing is ever an IT emergency until it becomes one. The more time you spend preventing fires, the less time you’ll spend putting them out! (Backups, DRPs, documentation, etc.)
  2. “Make your rounds!” Often times, many easily-correctable issues go unreported because the employee(s) suffering from them can’t be bothered to submit a ticket, or don’t know how to articulate it. You can save a lot of time by visiting with people face-to-face to understand what their pains. Do this at every level of the organization! Be friendly, be approachable!
  3. “The map is NOT the territory! Get out there once in a while and see it for yourself!” Don’t rely solely on documentation! It could be outdated, there may be human error, or other factors introduced in the course of maintaining your Asset Register/CMDB.
  4. “Focus on what’s important.” This cliché has been beaten to death, so I’ll try to make it simple and relevant – anything the business depends on to make money should be your highest priority, followed by the systems which support them and so on and so forth.
  5. “Those who ignore history have no past – and no future!” Acknowledge those who have come before you. Study their mistakes, learn from them! It’s much less painful to side-step an avoidable pitfall than to climb out of it after-the-fact.

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