The Bitter  Network Administrator

A Website Dedicated to Computer Professional...and some not so Professional

Server Management and Personality Problems
by Roy Troxel 

Personality problems that have nothing directly to do with computers often arise in the IT workplace. The trick, as always, is in understanding your clientele. 

The methodology of lawyers is different from that of PC technicians. Lawyers like to argue, so no matter what you recommend to them, they will mount a counter-argument to it. Therefore, be careful how you phrase your IT recommendations to lawyers. State it to them in a way that they can't argue with. Show them only facts and data. It's hard to argue with the facts when presented in a database or spreadsheet. It will take a few months for them to get used to this, but once they do, you will be a hero in their eyes, they will defend you when necessary, and will insist that only YOU work on their problems. 

Doctors and nurses have a more scientific, logical approach to problems, so you do have that in common with them. The trick with doctors, and especially nurses, is that they need the answers NOW. This doesn't apply just to emergency or critical situations. Therefore, think what kind of data, equipment or vendors will best aid the doctor in the solution to his problems. 

In every company there is always that demanding user who thinks that nobody cares about their special problems, least of all PC techs, who are idiots. They will raises their voices, call you names, and then contact your superiors to tell them how incompetent you are. Nice, huh? However, sometimes these problems can be solved by diverting attention away from you and toward the problem itself. For example, I once worked at a company where one of the users screamed at someone daily. She was an accountant and was having problems with Excel spreadsheets. As it turned out, the company had a support contract with Microsoft, which allowed IT techs to contact Microsoft on a regular basis. I gave the phone number to the accountant, and suggested that she contact MS herself. It worked like a charm. She was then able to chew out the support person at MS, and I became a hero, in her eyes. 

Because some companies don't see IT as a moneymaking entity, but even as a loss entity, they tighten the budget. Your job is to prove to them that they can save thousands by having an up-to-date, efficiently-run IT department. For example, explain to clients or CFOs that it's currently cheaper to buy new items than to keep repairing old items. Advise them to use the depreciation of old items as tax write-offs. Dismantle old PCs and sell parts like hard drives and memory chips to recycling companies. Or they can give them to charity. 

(One "prestigious" law firm I had contracted to was upgrading their PCs - about 280 of them. They had already ordered the new PCs, and were in the process of disposing of the old ones. They had about 100 of them in a pile and were smashing them with hammers. Why? So it would be easier and less expensive for the trash collector to haul them away!) 

DON'T USE WORKAROUNDS TO SAVE MONEY. This is the approach of the amateur. Quantify items on spreadsheets and databases. This impresses the bean counters, who want to see graphically what you are costing the company.

Roy Troxel is the founder of a website for webmasters. You may visit him at.