A major problem facing businesses today is the tendency to hang on to poorly conceived, mistaken and/or outdated procedures. With every imaginable kind of firm now computerized and net-connected, there is always plenty of confusion and controversy over what to do as technology continues its huge leaps forward. (We recently blogged about the CES 2012 conference that showcased many of the newest “leapers.”)
We’ll use a common IT task – saving system reports (individually or en masse), as an example. An IT professional blogged recently about reviewing his two-year-old “best practices” documentation for saving these reports, or logs. He realized that the tasks had evolved over time and were not as described. He thought the documentation should reflect what was really happening. Good idea, right?
“Good” is not always “right”
It may make sense from a “best practices” perspective to revise the documentation, but this assumes that what ishappening is what’s supposed to be happening. Before we can decide if the material is still valid, we need to determine if it was valid in the first place with some pointed questions:
Why do we create and keep logs to begin with?
Who looks at them, and are they the right people?
What do they really do with the logs?
Should the logs be archived, or deleted after X number of days?
Are we asking the right people the right questions?
It turns out that the company was saving 300GB of logs nightly – the new daily reports plus a ton of old ones – on the same Xserve RAID devices CRE rents. This represented a real waste of resources, employee time and money, as few people looked at them. After determining what was really needed – and when, by whom, how much, etc. – our IT hero recommended that the company only save a week’s worth of logs in addition to the dailies.
Now the logs were compact, 10MB files small enough to review on an iPad rental. Our IT manager saved his company beaucoup bucks, brought new efficiencies and eliminated waste. He ended his tale by encouraging businesses to ask some hard questions:
• Do you review your security policies, workplace procedures, documentation, training materials and best practices regularly?
• Have you established (and updated as necessary) a way to gauge how relevant and effective these materials are in achieving your corporate goals?
• Do all the employees that use the logs have sufficient input into these discussions?
• How can your firm avoid the common pitfall of automatically adopting what sounds familiar and reasonable, whether or not it is properly thought out?