Reality IT: Implementing Solutions Against Your Will

When your IT department is told to implement a technology it wouldn't have chosen, what choice do you have?

June 7, 2004

3 Min Read
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Don't Kill the Messenger

I wanted to take a kinder, gentler approach in breaking the news to our telecom manager, Sandra Hook. We already had a project under way to replace our aging phone system. We had been assessing needs and reviewing alternatives, but the OxyMoron partnership forced our hand.

Sandra was ticked when I told her the centerpiece of her new infrastructure had already been chosen. IP phone systems have come a long way, but her veteran telecom folks still weren't convinced. Reluctantly, she left to brief them.

We had been using an excellent consultant to help us weigh the pros and cons of IP versus more conventional systems, but now the choice was made. Our longtime consultant preferred to lose our business than be pushed into a solution--he quit.

Mission PossibleAfter the initial shock and anger, my staff and I decided there was only one recourse: We would charge forward as if the new system was the one we had selected ourselves. It was hard, but we didn't have much choice.

There were several problems with the OxyMoron system. First, it would increase the traffic on the WAN connections to our geographically dispersed offices. We had already installed voice over IP gateways, so we had bandwidth. Unfortunately, all the gateways now had to be replaced with OxyMoron proprietary devices.

Second, the system runs on the Wintel platform. Try convincing your telecom people that a Wintel server is as robust and reliable as their good ol' PBX. The addition of Wintel technology also meant the telecom staff would no longer have complete control over system support--our server and network crews would have to be involved, too.

Third, since the OxyMoron system had just come out, we found that we frequently had to install new software releases--or wait for OxyMoron to send them. OxyMoron's inventory was limited, so it couldn't give us full shipments of the phone sets, and they were expensive. We had support problems, because OxyMoron had not anticipated some of our needs. My status reports to management were professional, but with a hint of bitterness: I didn't say, "I told you so," but it didn't take much to read between the lines.

The Dust SettlesToday, the IP phone system is running, but only for about two-thirds of ACME's employees. And we still don't have all the features working as sold, though the basic functions are there. To be safe, we've left our old phone system in place, with a link to the new one.

Would the new system have been better if we had chosen it ourselves? Maybe. But one thing's for sure: We'd never have gotten through the project if we hadn't "adopted" the technology that was forced upon us. Sometimes, it's better to switch than fight.

Hunter Metatek is an enterprise IT director with 15 years' experience in network engineering and management. The events chronicled in this column are based in fact--only the names are fiction. Write to the author at [email protected].

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