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Avoiding PEBCAK: Improving User-IT Relations

Miscommunication, unreasonable expectations, and the seemingly impenetrable world of IT vocabulary can create a lot of daily friction between IT personnel and the rest of the office. Identifying a few of these sources of confusion can help produce a happier, more productive atmosphere. Sometimes, a technical problem really does originate between the chair and the keyboard, but improving the relationship between IT and the Users requires little effort and can be all it takes to resolve office tension.

Remember Who Speaks Tech

Internet Technology specialists sometimes need to make an extra effort to ensure that their co-workers understand their communications. Acronyms of every size abound in technology circles. Yet these terms often don’t convey useful information to professionals from other fields.

Computer coders often use words such as “Python,” “legacy systems,” and “server stack” during casual conversations. Though clear to those in the field, these types of conversation can leave colleagues unfamiliar with tech-speak feeling as though they’re listening to some type of secret language. Take the time to briefly ensure that others understand what specialized terms mean when you can, and you’ll find more users more willing to do more for IT.

Unreasonable Expectations

Another frequent source of friction between IT staff members and co-workers relate to the heightened expectations that sometimes attach to the provision of computer services. Ever since the advent of the PC, a growing number of workers have become accustomed to obtaining fast, rapid, accurate information. It sometimes annoys people in other departments when an IT staffer seemingly interrupts the course of business with a slow response to an information request or when a well-paid IT professional requests funding to engage in a costly consultation with an outside expert.

Workers in non-tech fields need to appreciate that computer technology involves sub-specialties. Just as you typically wouldn’t expect a physician in general practice to conduct brain surgery for you, or your family lawyer to supervise the sale of a major sports team, you need to appreciate that not ever highly skilled IT employee possesses the skill sets required to complete every possible tech assignment. A superbly talented database administrator may lack the ability to code a UI for an online video game, and a software programmer well-versed in C++ may know very little about setting up a hard-wired network.

“You Should Have Told Me About That!”

Finally, some non-IT workers unreasonably blame the IT Department for program compatibility problems. When a company invests thousands of dollars in a new software system, discovering a few years down the road that necessary upgrades won’t work well with other important software programs used by the firm naturally creates frustration.

The computer technology field changes rapidly. If a software vendor decides to implement significant upgrades, sometimes those changes may create glitches impacting other software, especially with respect to older software programs. An in-house IT department may have little practical control over whether or not a particular software vendor decides to make changes that can render other legacy programs currently used by its customers incompatible. Opening lines of communication and feedback can help reduce unrealistic expectations from non-IT professionals.

Embrace SEBKAC

Embrace “solutions exist between keyboard and chair” to help reduce office PEBKAC. People cause problems sometimes, but they also solve them! The more you communicate, the more people who are outside the IT department can be on the IT team.