10+ Smart-Working Enterprise IT Work Rules

Do you wonder what the work principles in IT (information technology) are like in an enterprise? As a young IT professional in a large enterprise, there were rules I had to learn in order not to go out of line — it was 2011, the first time I ever stepped into the world of IT support, where I learned the essentials from my supervisor and mentor who always told me not to work hard but work smart. This is a list of IT work ethic reminders I crafted for myself thanks to him, hoping it would be inspiring to everyone, working in the tech industry or not.
Studying Image courtesy of Justin Baeder
  1. Most of the time, IT support is a standby job — it may be peaceful but we should get prepared for the worst to come anytime.
  2. Underpromise and overdeliver. We should leave buffer time when asked to provide with an estimated time required to fulfill a request. (If done early, users or requesters would be more satisfied.)
  3. We would not be much different from workers in the industrial age if we don’t think and just do as we are told.When assigned a task, we should be curious. We should ask. We should seek every bit of detail. We should then planand state clearly any risks to avoid taking responsibility in case of failure.
  4. When answering the management, do not rush to say yes or boldly suggest when we aren’t sure. Just chill and say we don’t know or we need to look into it first.
  5. To maintain IT operation of an enterprise, sometimes doing nothing is better for users and the company in long term. For example, working around a slow 10-year-old PC to mitigate compatibility issues is bad. Why not use it as a reason to support buying a new PC that makes the user more productive and happy?
  6. Get to know one or two colleagues well in each department. That will help make our work smooth, e.g. conducting a pilot test would encounter less reluctance from users we know better.
  7. Avoid writing long emails which are often ignored or skim-read by users. Make emails concise and in point form so that users easily grasp them and do what we would like them to do.
  8. Email is official (and cold). Never take sending emails as the sole action. Carbon-copying (cc) to lots of people or users’ department head could be invasive. Always casually talk to the user first, then email.
  9. Don’t be too nice to users. In a big enterprise, our role is like the police, while users are like citizen. Rules are rules. We do not teach users how to violate rules; they could, however, figure out certain harmless shortcuts by themselves, as no policeman or policewoman would instruct pedestrians they can cross a car-free road when the pedestrian traffic light is red.
  10. We should not let users feel we are soft in saying no. We should be firm in enforcing policies.
  11. If we really would like users to obey IT rules and respect one another, whether it is email or talk, be firm, concise and to the point.
  12. Being strict first, loose later would be better regarded by users than being loose first and strict later.
  13. Think in the mind of challengers (e.g. auditor, the management). Anything that is emailed, logged, signed can be later challenged. Do not give in to laziness or convenience and let users bypass process, such as not requiring approval for installing high-risk software. We don’t want to cause trouble to our supervisors or managers later.
  14. Because of our role of helping people, users and even the management can be very nice to us, but we should maintain our professionalism, which is what they expect from us. Stay humble, sincere, diligent and be courteous to everyone at all times.
  15. IT professionalism also includes not peeking at users’ emails and files. Do not abuse our privileges (in front of users or behind them) without their consent.
I hope these rules will be of use to anyone new to the world of enterprise IT support and similar disciplines.