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Works in process

Just in the process of finishing chucking in a solution to provide some of our creative types with a centralised place to store their files and works in progress. As is common to a lot of places doing digital work-flow and there is some debate as to whether you can call it a work-flow as it appears to the outsider to be a haphazard set of random events which eventually leads to some content being produced with much of the data currently stored on 

  • local disk
  • USB disks
  • Specialised and isolated SAN islands

And the work-flow has evolved around this. Now in theory going to a more centralised storage environment should allow a more efficient and smoother work-flow but we have discovered one thing, creative types are even more difficult to manage and change than developers; so we are trying to compensate for their processes in the IT layer.

Ideally we'd like to sit down with them and make suggestions as to how to improve the process but like everyone, there simply isn't enough time. But almost counter-intuitively some of their inefficiencies can make us seem much more efficient; for example, we know that each individual will have their own copies of much of the content; we suspect that we might get a very decent return on dedupe. 

But it has left me wondering; we talk about changing process to meet the users needs and we constantly beat ourselves up about not being able to change fast enough (well, at least if we truly care about our customers); do our users fret about doing things differently in order to better leverage the investment made in IT infrastructure? Should they? Because if we are radically changing our IT processes and infrastructures, it might be better done as a collaboration. 

p.s I obviously didn't mean 'chuck in'; it was a rapid and agile deployment aimed at meeting user requirements as they evolved. 


  1. In my experience “end users” seldom worry about taking better advantage of centralized IT resources. Sometimes this is out of ignorance of what central IT can do, but more often it is because central IT fails to scratch their particular itch.
    In my opinion, it is worth the effort to reach out to the end user community in an effort to both help them understand the capabilities of central IT, and to help central IT better understand the specific needs of the end user community. The end user community, however, also needs to understand that the creative assets they work with are a corporate resource that must be adequately protected.
    As an example, I once consulted with a university where there was a very acrimonious relationship between central IT and the research community. The researchers considered central IT to be bureaucratic, slow, and expensive, so they largely ignored central IT and built their own systems from inexpensive commodity hardware from the local electronics superstore. An independent study of the situation revealed that there were potentially billions of dollars worth of research data that was one hard drive failure away from ceasing to exist. Beyond the potential financial impact, some of this research data was cutting edge medical work that had the potential to benefit humanity as a whole.
    This served as a wake-up call to the university administration that things were broken. The research community was given stronger guidelines on the creation and use of technology infrastructures and the central IT department was provided with some funding and organizational changes that enabled it to better serve the needs of the researchers.
    To summarize, responsibility rested with both IT and the user community to work together in the best interests of the organization. If they do this one their own, then intervention from management may be required.

  2. Hit post too quickly. Final line should read “If they DON’T do this on their own, then intervention from management may be required.”
    Time to find more coffee.

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