With the euro project fiasco looming over me, I had to find a quick way of winning a few brownie points on my nightmare placement with Milton Maynard council. It was time to pull a sure-fire winner out of the consultant's first-aid kit. We would set up a standard packaging policy for PCs.
You don't have to be a consultant for long before you realise that IT managers don't like personal computers. Not only do PCs put too much power into the hands of the user, they are altogether too easy to tailor to individual whims. This suggests that the PC (and the IT department) is there for the user's benefit, which is tantamount to treason.
Computers are there to implement corporate strategy and to rationalise procedures, not to make people happy. Milton Maynard may be the local government from hell, but it's quite normal in this respect. A standard packaging policy is a technique for returning the PC to the fold of corporate blandness. I summoned my dynamic helpers, Maggie from Parks and Gardens, and Dennis from Highways. Their reaction was total horror. "Everyone will hate it," Maggie said, shaking her head.
"Quite the reverse," I said. "Our noble IT chief, Ms Livesey, will love it because we're putting PCs into a professionally managed structure.
Our users will love it because of all the benefits. There'll be lower support costs with all the hardware, applications and desktop arrangements exactly the same. Not to mention faster supply of new equipment, because we can use standard pick lists instead of having these interminable mix and match orders. And because everyone's PC will be set up in the same way, anyone can use any desk. Benefits all round."
"But that's rubbish," said Dennis. "It's not true. It's only easier for the IT department." Dennis is sometimes a little slow to catch on.
"Of course it's not true," I said. 'How could it be? After all, our support is outsourced, and they don't care what equipment and software we run, they've seen it all. For at least a year it will actually take longer to get new equipment, because we'll have to re-jig all the processes.
And everyone will be less efficient, because after years of getting their PC organised just the way they want it, we're going to mess it up.
"If you really want the truth, the reasons are quite different. The IT department will like it because it's showing the users who's boss, and taking them one step back towards that mythical past where everything in the IT garden was lovely and everyone used dumb terminals. User management will like it because we can hide the real costs in the packages and not transfer as much to them on the internal recharge system. True, actual users will hate it, but who listens to them? Think how good it'll look in the in-house magazine and the report and accounts."
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