Friday, September 3, 2010

What I.T. Does

It's really easy to focus on the nuts and bolts of what I.T. does and completely disregard its role as a way of codifying institutional knowledge. We recently had an issue at the office with a check run. There are a lot of reasons why this particular event took place, but what's daunting is the expense of fixing it. In less than ten minutes, we created a problem which will cost several thousands of dollars to fix.

We like to automate processes in our I.T. department. Part of the reason is that we don't like doing mundane things over and over. The reason is that we invariably fail. In this case, we can try to absolve ourselves of guilt by pointing out that someone else didn't follow procedure. The problem, though, is that we routinely automate things because we hate trying to follow strict procedures. We aren't good at it.

There is a disconnect here. Technology is really good at doing things fast, and precisely. It also, however, helps us codify business rules. "When do we run check cycles?" Check the job scheduler.

"How do we run check cycles?" Read the comments in the code you found in the job scheduler. The bonus is that the rule is now written down. Codified. The employee who had the responsibility for remembering to write this code is now free to do other things. The person who used to run the job is off the hook for remembering teh very specific rules for running the job. Everybody wins.

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