I discover more and more that large businesses are akin to government agencies or the military in terms of the bureaucracy required to get anything done.
This, of course, raises one question: does bureaucracy in large organizations happen organically in an attempt to exercise control over the organization, or is it imposed on it after the fact to restrict people from completing anything in an efficient manner?
We in IT are in a unique position, especially these days. We are the gatekeepers, in a sense. But at the same time, we merely enforce other people’s rules. A common call I may get is for someone to obtain Adobe Acrobat, but because the license costs money, we make people jump through substantial hoops to get it. Yet, oddly enough, it’s actually easier to request a cell phone to be paid for out of the corporate account at a rate of $80-100 per month, than it is to get a simple $150 piece of software.
There’s your first argument for bureaucracy as controlling unit.
But at the same time, it’s amazing that people who work in this enormous business to think that anything can be given to them immediately. Take this guy from today: he requested access to a specialized software system this morning, and called in, wondering why he hadn’t been granted access yet. Because, of course, the project for which he needed this access required information from that system before a meeting on Monday…
Forethought: a strong point of corporate America.
Access to the system he needed to work in is strongly restricted, thus, there’s a multiple-step process that needed to be followed for his rights to be granted. This typically is designed to be completed in five days…If everything works right. First, he fills out and submits the unnecessarily lengthy and vague form, which because of its vague questions, he probably has already completed improperly.
Second, his manager needs to approve the request. This doesn’t make any sense anymore, because four years ago, IT groups used to charge back to business units for access to systems like this one. Since then, though, we haven’t charged, so the manager really has no reason to approve this kind of request except to just know that Steve needs access to the X System. Though honestly, the manager probably doesn’t even know what the hell the X System does.
Third, the application or system owner needs to approve the request. This makes sense: it’s their app or system. They should know who’s using it.
Fourth, the request is sent to one accounts team to create an account and grant any specific rights that are needed for that user in that system.
And fifth, the request goes to a second team who may need to create some secondary rights to get to the system, and possibly even confirm that the first team created the rights correctly in the first place.
I went through the process with the guy, and told him that really, the absolute earliest he could expect access was probably Tuesday. His manager hadn’t even approved the request yet.
Then he entered the seven stages of IT Grief.
Step one: Disbelief. “What? What? My manager hasn’t even approved it yet? But he left for the weekend at lunch time!”
Step two: Begging. “I’ve got this huge project, and I have to get in there so that I can get my part done by Monday…”
Step three: Negotiation. “Please, is there something we can do for this ONE little request? PLEEEESE?”
Step four: Resignation. “Well, okay…I’ll just have to tell my boss that we won’t have it done in time.”
Step five: Anger. “This is crazy. How can I get my job done if I can’t get access to the things I need access to when I need access to them? What kind of stupid organization is this?
Step six: Begging. Again. “Can’t we just make one exception? Can’t you just pass it through without approvals?”
Step seven: Engaged conversation to learn what the steps are to try to expedite the request. “Okay, so I need to do what to get this done ASAP?”
As with all bureaucracies, there’s always another way to do things. Or at least ways to cut in line. I gave him his options so that when I hung up the phone, he at least had the faint glimmer of hope somewhere out far, far ahead of him.
See you tomorrow.