Does your IT empower you or encumber you?

Overview

Join our CTO in discussing two main IT systems; including issues that can arise during their average work day and how to accommodate to them.

There are two main areas of focus here, time spent jumping through hoops to get simple tasks done also known as “Time To Productivity” or TTP, and the number of steps the user has to take. With added complexity, you add more areas to go wrong adding a higher likelihood that users will encounter an issue.

TTP can be a matter of seconds which in the grand scheme of the whole day seems negligible.  However, considering the average person's attention span has dropped down 8 seconds according to a recent study by Microsoft, every second counts when trying to ensure that epiphany moment is captured when rushing to your computer to capture it.

Steve Jobs had a great explanation as to the worth of time during a computer boot process:
One day Jobs marched into the cubicle of Larry Kenyon, the engineer who was working on the Macintosh operating system, and complained that it was taking too long to boot up. Kenyon started to explain why reducing the boot-up time wasn’t possible, but Jobs cut him off. “If it would save a person’s life, could you find a way to shave 10 seconds off the boot time?” he asked. Kenyon allowed that he probably could. Jobs went to a whiteboard and showed that if five million people were using the Mac and it took 10 seconds extra to turn it on every day, that added up to 300 million or so hours a year—the equivalent of at least 100 lifetimes a year. After a few weeks Kenyon had the machine booting up 28 seconds faster.” - Harvard business review 2021

Consider your staff’s accumulated savings of seconds as valuable productivity time so in this post, I’m going to consider the experiences of two people as they interact with the IT systems and services provided by their employers. Let’s call them Emma and Ladislav.

Like many people recently Emma and Ladislav have been required to work from home, but their experience has been markedly different. In the morning Ladislav boots up his laptop, this can take some time, especially on those annoying days where there’s a series of updates that need to finish installing before he can get to work.

Ladislav’s company is very security conscious so he’s required to supply power on password before his laptop will start. Once his laptop has started up he’s then required to enter his login details for the operating system, and then it will do all it’s updates and load the anti-virus scanner and the other components his company insists on installing.

  • Entering a Boot password - ~ 5 seconds (depending on length)
  • Entering a windows login password - ~  5 seconds (depending on length)
  • Antivirus and background monitoring app startup time - ~ 4 seconds (this is usually longer but let's be kind)

Ladislav first wants to get into his emails and see what’s new.  To do this he needs to connect via VPN to his company’s network where their mail server is, this requires another ID and password combination. To ensure a consistent experience for all users his company also provides a virtual desktop environment where all the applications Ladislav needs can be found. So he starts a VPN session and then once connected he’s able to load the virtual desktop and load up his email application.

  • Loading up the VPN client logging in and connecting - ~ 8 seconds 
  • Loading up the Virtual desktop ~ 6 seconds

Emma’s company is also security conscious but takes a different approach. She turns on her device and a few seconds later she’s presented with a login screen. The device has detected her mobile phone nearby so all she has to do is tap on her profile picture and she’s logged in. All Emma’s applications are web based so she’s able to quickly get to her email and start her day.

 

  • Clicking on the profile picture ~ 2 seconds
 

Ladislav

Emma

Entering a Boot password



5 seconds

2 seconds (click profile image)

Entering a windows login password

5 seconds

 

Antivirus and background monitoring app startup time 



4 seconds

 

Loading up the VPN client logging in and connecting 

8 seconds

 

Loading up the Virtual desktop

6 seconds

 

Total TTP:

28 seconds

2 seconds

Approx 

Simplicity is key once you are working away, it should not take more than a few clicks to ensure you are able to start getting productive and work with others.  A business needs staff to focus on the content, not the technology, to put this into perspective let's follow Ladislav and Emma’s workday.

Ladislav has an email asking him to review a report which is attached. From the email addresses, he can see that he’s not the only one this has been sent to so there will be half a dozen people reviewing the document. He opens his copy and starts.

Ladislav has been working on a report and now needs some of his colleagues to review it and contribute their own ideas. He attaches his document to an email and sends it out. His heart sinks as he thinks about how he’s going to have to somehow merge or copy and paste all the responses he gets back into his original. He’s also worried that his colleagues will have no idea what each other are doing in the document so they may be duplicating effort or even creating conflicting content.

Emma has also been writing a report, but right from the beginning, she has shared it in the cloud with her colleagues so they’re all able to work on it together in real-time. They can see the changes the others are making and have been able to complete the work in record time.

Disaster! Something’s gone wrong with Ladislav’s laptop. He’s completely stuck because the applications he needs are only accessible from that machine when he uses the VPN software. Now he’s going to have to get someone from his IT support team to try and fix it, once he works out how to contact them without using the email application which is also dependent on the VPN software.

Emma knows that if anything goes wrong with her machine she can always log in to her work account on any other machine with a browser. All her work will be right where she left off. She might even be able to resolve the issue by factory resetting the device as there’s no special company software on it and it will get reconfigured with her preferences as soon as she logs in again.

By the end of the day, Ladislav has started to receive responses to his review request on his report. With the delays, he’s experienced today getting the issue with his laptop resolved, on top of the usual slow start to the day he’s not had a chance to start the slow process of merging the different versions of his report he’s received back. He wanted to get the report completed today but he’s going to have to finish it off tomorrow, potentially having a knock-on effect for his other timelines. He signs off frustrated. He looks ahead to tomorrow’s work anxiously.

By the end of the day, Emma has even had a chance to start on some of tomorrow's tasks, taking advantage of the speed at which she was able to complete today's tasks thanks to the ease of collaborating with the rest of her team on her earlier report. Even if there had been a problem with her machine her workflow would have barely been interrupted. She signs off relaxed and feeling accomplished with what she’s achieved today. She’s looking ahead to tomorrow's work without any concerns.

Between Ladislav and Emma, which do you think has the more favorable experience with their IT systems day to day? Which of the two do you think is more likely to have higher job satisfaction? And which of the two sounds most familiar to your experiences with IT systems? Taking full advantage of Google Workspace and combining it with Chrome could get you closer to Emma’s relationship with IT rather than Ladislav’s.

Want to talk more about your IT system? We're always here to chat, reach out at hello@cts.co

 

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