A manifesto for kick-ass IT
12 October 2018
People do their best work when technology is a superpower, not an obstacle.
We’ve all experienced terrible IT in the workplace. Your computer is supposed to be a bicycle of the mind, but when you sit down at your desk it’s like the saddle is missing and the tyres have been slashed.
This sucks for everyone. Staff are frustrated and can’t do their best work. Organisations are less productive and can’t focus on the things that really matter.
The good news is it doesn’t have to be like this. Here are six easy rules for putting user needs first when delivering an organisation’s IT. If you work somewhere that already meets all of these then you should shout about it; the people responsible are true heroes.
1. Trust users
Users know better than anyone else what they need to get their job done. Provide a common set of basic tools, and then let people choose their own devices and specialist software if they need to. Be there to give advice, but don’t tie people’s hands unnecessarily.
2. Make security easy
Security is very important, but bad security is counterproductive. Provide things that foster good habits and make it easier for people to work securely, like single sign-ons, VPNs and password managers. Don’t waste people’s time with pointless security theatre.
3. Embrace flexibility
Work isn’t a place any more, and that means ensuring people can be productive wherever they need to be. Meetings should be simple whether people are in the office or joining remotely, and work should be possible anywhere with an internet connection.
4. Reflect everyday life
Consumer technology has raised the bar for usability. Make sure people get tools as intuitive as the ones they choose in the rest of their digital lives. Help should always be available, but nothing you deploy should need people to read a manual or take a training course.
5. Leverage the internet
The internet means even small organisations can afford to use great software. Take advantage of this to tap into best-in-class services that are always up-to-date. Be confident enough not to waste time and money building second-rate bespoke tools for standard tasks.
6. Measure outcomes
Technology is there to help people get stuff done. Take pride in overseeing a technology environment that does what people need it to first and foremost. Focus on outcomes like user satisfaction and productivity rather than counting outputs and busywork.