When IT hits the fan

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I have become convinced IT is the bane of an agency’s existence. We just moved and it went incredibly well except for moving our computers. I won’t bore you with details because there are too many. Suffice it to say that the way ideas are created isn’t by computer, but when the server goes down you would think so. Doesn’t it make you weak in the knees knowing that you are completely dependent upon the IT guy?

IT guys are like shamans. Each has their philosophy of cyber-Zen. (Which means all other IT guys are infidels.) It’s a grand adventure trying to understand their special language too. I’m convinced it is just some form of pig Latin to confound the common folk. I really don’t want the explanation anyway. I just want my email to work. I want to print to the printer of my choice at the push of a button. I want my Palm Pilot to sync up to my computer. I don’t want to hear how either Steve Jobs or Bill Gates is the devil.

There is nothing new about what we’re going through. It’s happened at every agency I’ve work at since 1986. I find the reason for the insanity is insanity itself. At an agency in my past we were having tremendous difficulty keeping our server from crashing. No matter what our IT people did the server continued to go down daily. It was explained that the culprit was an old server that conflicted with our newer servers. “Can we buy a new server?” I asked. “Well, no, the accounting department has to have that server to do their work and a new server won’t run their software.”

That’s right. Our entire agency was being continually shut down, losing tens of thousands of dollars in billable time a day because accounting had old software. How’s that for irony? The department that has nothing to do with what we do was causing us to not be able to do it at all because we didn’t have our IT priorities straight. When the agency finally broke down and bought new software (I admit it was expensive, but we had lost the same amount many times over in downtime.) the problem magically disappeared.

I think sometimes we agency owners find it difficult to face the music when it comes to things like computers. Spending a few grand to solve an IT problem that is costing hundreds of hours in lost billable time is tempting to turn a blind eye to until it’s too late. Ultimately, squeezing one more day out of an out-of-date system isn’t worth it. Watching employees take two-hour coffee breaks while their computers are being fixed makes that abundantly clear. It seems the bitter pill of obsolete technology is biting us in the pants. We’re dealing with it and we’ll have it fixed soon. It will fade from our memory and we might even laugh about it years later. I just wish I’d stop having flashbacks like I fought in Nam or something.
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