A Smartphone, a Swiss Army Knife, and your Local IT Department

By BKV in Analytics & Information on August 18th, 2011

 

Let’s start with your smartphone...

 

How much research did you do after you bought your phone?  Do you know how to use all of its features and settings?  Did you get it set up to a point where you could use it and be somewhat happy with it, then stop actively learning about it?  Most of us add the cool apps we hear about, then only make changes to the phone when something breaks or an update changes things.  There are tons of apps and features out there that may make you safer, healthier, and happier if you just keep actively learning.

A Swiss army knife is not nearly as feature friendly as a smart phone, however, it has tools built in that aren’t used or known just the same.  Unlike a phone, once you get the knife, you get all the features at once and that’s it.  You get a few standard blades, a corkscrew, toothpick, tweezers, can opener, bottle opener…all kinds of things. But how often are you using all of these options?  It’s pretty cool to know you have them…but again, you don’t think about using them until you know what they can do. By the time you care, you’ve probably already tossed the manual.

So what the heck do these two things have to do with an IT department?  Think about it for a second. How many times have you overlooked a problem or inefficiency because you were getting by well enough to ignore it? For example, have you had your computer crash and lost hours of work because your file wasn’t saved?  Did you know that some applications have auto-save options that may have prevented your data loss? Knowing that after the crash is a bit too late.

Unlike the phone and knife, an IT department doesn’t come with an owner’s manual and PROBABLY won’t cut you if you use it wrong.  But if you only rely on IT management to get the good word out and hopefully talk about something that can help you, you may be short changing yourself.  To really learn what your IT department is capable of, you need to stay in communication with them.  Set up a meeting and talk about your day-to-day problems, talk about your needs and those of your department, because working in conjunction with IT may help you reduce wasted hours. 

Just as the phone and knife need a knowledgeable owner to be able to use them to their fullest potential, an IT department works more effectively with a knowledgeable and inquisitive user base.  Make sure you or someone in your department has a contact in the IT department. They can be used to make your jobs much easier and much more productive if you let them. 

Your IT department is a complex (and sometimes weird) tool that you have at your disposal; how you use it is up to you.