Dumb things IT people say

My job gives me the good fortune to interact with a lot of different people at many companies across every industry. It's one of the best parts of the job, but it also gives me the opportunity to hear the crazy things we in IT say.

Don't be a dunce

Flickr/Alan Levine (cc by-sa 2.0)

Here is a sample of the dumb things I hear:

1. The system is down (or offline)

What do you mean down? Down where? Why is it offline? Which line was it on in the first place? Let's just try and simplify communicaitons and say it's broken. Be honest.

2. It's dead.

I didn't even know it was sick. Let's not be so morbid. Again, don't be afraid of the word broken.

3. It's a bug.

Come on, seriously? This phrase has been used as far back as 1878 by Thomas Edison, and more recently in 1947 by computer pioneer Grace Hopper, who experienced a problem when a moth became trapped in a relay. Sure the average piece of software is filled errors, but can't we come up with a better excuse?

4. That's odd.

Possible translations: I have no idea. Not sure. Got me. Someone else messed something up. Sorry, not my responsibility.

5. It's a paradigm shift.

No it's not. You're just changing your mind and are now trying to come up with a nice way of saying it.

6. We need to align our work with business priorities.

Is anyone in IT still saying that? If so, stop it right now. Of course we are aligned. We're part of the business and not some distant third-party. Does anyone ask if the finance or human resource groups are aligned? Of course not. Now they might not be (sorry to say it), but it's not questioned regularly. Solving this is squarely on the shoulders of IT. We must stop thinking we are not aligned, and stop behaving like we're a vendor.

7. Benefit Realization.

Isn't it in the very nature of a benefit to be realized? If not, then it's not a benefit in the first place. If you are not realizing the benefit you originally planned for, then stop doing it immediately because it's not adding value.

8. Have you tried turning it off, then on again?

Yup, a nod to The IT Crowd, the British sitcom by Channel 4. I can't explain this better than they do, so this is your queue to go watch. IT people need to stop saying it, and in turn the rest of us need to stop calling for help before trying it. It's part of life, even on a mobile device.

9. That's a feature.

Listen up software developers: No mistake in software code is a feature. We've been saying this for 20 years, and I think quality has improved enough to call a mistake a mistake, an error, or even a problem. Just don't say it was "by design".

10. This project is critical, but there's no ROI.

Did someone say no ROI? Is that possible? Please say no. Absolutely everything must have an ROI (return on investment), but it might not be just cost savings. The ROI could be improved service, cost avoidance, or improved productivity. Just don't say there is no ROI.

11. DMZ, Firewall, Virus, Post Mortem.

Do we have to be so focused on bad things that can kill us? There are too many military terms. Dear IT Security -- I know we are in a war to keep our companies safe, but do I need to be perpetually assaulted by these ominous terms? You can figure out a better way to scare us all.

12. Was it working before?

Really? Well, of course it was working before.

13. We are mobile enabling the application to run on an <insert your favorite phone>, it will do everything your PC does.

Yeah, have fun with that Windows interface on the 5" screen...

14. That can't be done.

You mean you don't want to do it, or don't want to admit that you don't know how to do it. It's embarrassing to think people in IT still say this. We in IT can do absolutely anything that our companies need to be done, with the appropriate funds. Technology is no longer a barrier to driving business success.

15. There's are no stupid questions.

Of course there are. As a matter of fact there are many, many stupid questions. Actually with the rise of cloud and mobile, there are more stupid questions than ever. However it's the job of IT people to deal with these questions in a way that educates and guides the person asking down the correct path.

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