Still not done

Newly hired networking pilot fish is tasked by the almost-as-new IT director with helping to create a cohesive network for the company's 14 remote sites.

And that's no small task. "Each site had its own server and local e-mail system," says fish. "Each site had 30 to 100 computer users on three shifts using 15 to 50 computers per site. And there were no corporate standards."

So fish and his boss get to work creating some. They install standardized servers at the home office and remote sites, unify communications, and set up all the workstations with the same software to communicate with the servers at the main office.

When they're done, it's a thing of beauty. Except they're not done -- the next step is to hold classes at each remote location to teach use of the new system.

That leaves just one bit of cleanup to do: remove unneeded user accounts that were created from paper records that had been submitted by office personnel at each remote site.

"To gather the data on the currently active employees at each location, I drafted Excel spreadsheets with a list of everyone we had created accounts for at each remote site," fish says.

"These were sent to each office manager with a request to correct the sheets by removing those people who were no longer employed or no longer needed computer access so we could purge them from our active directory accounts. Simple, right?"

Apparently not. Fish is stunned when the responses start coming in.

Some offices have made the changes in Excel, then printed them out and faxed the result to the home office.

Others have printed the spreadsheets, crossed out the names and faxed them to the home office.

Still others have printed them, used whiteout, then faxed. Yet others have printed them, handwritten their changes on a separate paper and faxed both sheets.

"Of the 14 locations, only two actually made the changes and e-mailed them back to us as requested," sighs fish.

"It became evident that with even a Cadillac of a network to work, it was going to take time to educate the users.

"When I left there four years later they were only marginally better."

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Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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