Information Technology can be “done” in many ways. By “done,” I mean the latitude that we, as IT professionals, have in deciding how IT is implemented and supported. Since IT is implemented by people, how it’s done can often reflect the personality of the person who’s doing it. And, of course, as with every industry, the world of IT has a few stereotypical personality types, based on how they approach the job:
The cowboy: This IT person ‘don’t answer to nobody’ and will hogtie anyone who tells ‘em differently. He is happy being left alone and doing things his own way.
The soldier: This IT person does only what he is told, by following procedural instructions verbatim – but has trouble seeing the big picture or knowing what to do when something unexpected happens.
The contractor: This IT person wants to just get it in and work, then move on quick to the next job. He hates to be called back to attend to punch list items or small details, since he only makes money on the new jobs.
The artist: This IT person enjoys the creative aspect of IT and always wants to do something new. He would be miserable working on an assembly line, doing things the same way every time.
But I suggest there is a better approach to implementing IT than the way the cowboy, solider, contractor or artist would do it. Instead of simply getting IT done, we can get IT done well! Instead of employing any of these one-dimensional approaches, a better approach combines the lessons the entire IT industry has learned over these past few decades. As a whole, we now know a lot about the best way to implement and efficiently support IT, especially if we think as an ‘IT body’ rather than as individual body parts.
In this model:
The cowboy would understand that although he can still work independently, there are also some benefits to considering what the whole IT industry is doing and implementing IT systems in line with industry best practices.
The soldier would understand that he has a part in contributing to this body of knowledge. And that, although he should follow checklists and procedural documentation, he can also contribute to shaping how things are done because of the experience he’s gained in the trenches.
The contractor would understand that his job is not simply to get the system working in the shortest time possible, but rather to make the total cost of ownership (implementation + long-term support) the lowest possible, while maximizing the long-term benefit of the system to the client.
The artist would understand that although there are times to be wonderfully expressive, the best time to be creative is while designing a solution and during problem-solving. He would know that once we get to the implementation and support phases, we’ve already figured out how to support IT systems effectively.
Having consistency of good implementation techniques – which draw upon the experience of tens of thousands of IT pros – makes IT systems more easily supportable, more stable, and more secure. Achieving consistency is often achieved through following checklists and procedural documentation, so that 1) important steps aren’t accidentally forgotten, 2) the system is implemented most securely, and 3) it’s the most stable and supportable. Although following consistent process can be a drag at times, it is a necessary part of doing IT well. Fortunately, at TNSC, we can take pride in building great systems that have great benefit, at the lowest cost.