back to article Office IT: One size doesn't fit all?

“We are all individuals” – Brian “I’m not” – computer user 'One size fits all' might be preferable for IT departments, but from an end-user perspective, everybody thinks they have different needs. But choice can be a two-edged sword. I remember way back when, having been put in charge of IT, I was surprised that desktop …


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  1. Robert E A Harvey

    Oh what a surprise


    You forgot the biggest failure - not asking the user what they need the computer FOR.

    I am a commissioning engineer. I have to programme PLCs and HMIs that imply I need a laptop with RS232 or parallel ports. But the IT department does not know that, even though they have had to re-order my last 3 laptops. Making the same mistake twice is stupid, but making it 3 times because of over-rigid centralisation is just a waste of perfectly good money.

    My latop is a spanner. I fill it up with software to talk to programmable controllers, compilers, devices to configure drives and motors, and to talk to stacks of instruments. When I then call for tech support because my email stops working I don't want all that lot deleting by remote services "because it is unsupported"

  2. Tom 13

    Well, that's not going to work here in The States.

    That whole "profiling" thing is unconstitutional. I have the reaffirmed every time I travel through an airport.

    1. garetht t


      No, you dunce, that's the wrong version of profiling!

      What the article clearly talks about is lining people up and viewing them from the side in order to work out how to place their desktop.

  3. Gil Grissum

    Lock down

    Having done IT Support for many years, I am definitely in favor of a standard configuration of standard limited models supported. Makes things easier on the IT Department from a support point of view. As far as the end users needs are concerned, the business owns the equipment and the user works for the business, so the business dictates what the users does their job with, not the user's ideas about what they think they need. The business management meets with the IT management to discuss and agree on giving the user technology that meets their requirements within the framework of the standard configurations. Unfortunately, Windows XP (as used where I work) has to be set up to allow the user admin rights, otherwise merely being able to access and use MS Office programs and the like, would be impossible, so the locked down profiles of the past (Windows NT) aren't possible any more.

    Users often forget that they work at the mercy of the business and don't get to dictate what they want or think they need on the job. In this economy, there is no need to waste an exorbitant amount of money on kit when the job can be done with a basic desktop with MS Office, network printing and Internet access. Unless you are rendering video, producing music, or designing aircraft, there is no cause for any sort of high end machine for the average office worker. Yea, I'd like an Alienware laptop too, but there is no business justification for such a thing.

    1. David 141

      Assuming management aren't clueless

      I may be falling for a troll here, but...

      "The business management meets with the IT management to discuss and agree on giving the user technology that meets their requirements"

      Except in the case where the business management don't actually know what the user requirements are, and the IT management wouldn't have a clue what software might actually meet those requirements.

      And XP can be locked down - as long as you don't try and run some legacy app from 1990 developed for windows 3.1 by a graduate VB "programmer" who only go the job because they were the son of the business manager.

      1. Mayhem

        legacy apps?

        "And XP can be locked down - as long as you don't try and run some legacy app from 1990 developed for windows 3.1 by a graduate VB "programmer" who only go the job because they were the son of the business manager."

        So you've had to support Swift too then eh?

  4. Inachu

    Using standards is ok up to a point.

    Let's say your entire company is nothing but white collar workers then fine.

    But when your company has white collar and technicians that need hardware such

    as the person above who still uses outdated serial port interfaces for what ever product they support or test for customers which requires support warranty for those parts for 12 years then no it is a very BAD idea for IT to think they can consilidate and make standards when those standards will break the support for your warranty issues for your customers.

    Also the standards where the older OS must be removed from the network.

    This is a rat nest of problems starting to fester.

    TIP: LEAVE your R&D boys and programmers alone!

    1. J. Cook Silver badge


      I've encountered this at my workplace and have had to be somewhat clever in respect to a) keeping as close to the corporate standard as possible whilst b) Giving the users what they want and need to get their work done.

      Example: One of our technical groups has a laptop that they use to talk to the embedded micro-controllers they maintain. While the controllers have (thankfully) migrated largely to USB, and our standard configuration still had a serial port for anything legacy at that time, the software they used interacts with a hardware copy protection dongle. We ended up buying a PC-Card based parallel port just for them to use this thing, after much back and forth with the vendor of the controller and the vendor of the dongle itself. Sure, it's more thing to lose/break/ etc. but it'll work until the vendor updates their software to use USB based copy dongles.

      Similarly, my own internal group's shared laptop has a USB to serial cable in the laptop bag for talking to network gear and other fun stuff.

  5. dylan 4

    The only reason this is difficult... because some businesses (both through management and IT depts) seem to take an ideological approach instead of a practical approach to "THE standard PC". "I am THE ONE true standard PC, thou shalt have no other PC but me" and all that...

    Blowing this up into a 'major business dilemma' is frankly pathetic. The question is exactly the same whether you're talking about computers, stationery, desk chairs, salesforce promotional gifts or surgical procedure packs. It's not an "IT" question, it's a "basic administrative principles" question. The question is how high you set the bar that people have to clear before their needs for something non-standard are acted on. And yes, unless you have a workforce you can trust absolutely to only make fully informed, reasonable requests, you do need a bar. An applied mathematics PhD canditate friend of mine once requested his dept to purchase a new SGI workstation for him - when asked "why?" he replied "so I can play Doom at a higher level" - they _thought_ he was joking [this was the early '90s].

    This is reasonably well handled in my workplace of 5000+ PCs (Govt health dept of all places). The standard, supported config is broadly based and includes things like WM player and flash, so it exceeds the (legitimate business) needs of the vast white collar majority. The vast majority of users work on a standard PC, standard image, locked down profile with no admin rights, and are fully supported by IT.

    Users who have software or hardware needs which aren't met by the standard PC are treated as exceptions, and come under a different support model.

    Those of us who can work on standard hardware but need administrator rights get local admin access. Our PC's are supported as far as hardware and standard apps, but if through our local admin we screw something up, the support model is "we will re-image your PC (and install any site-licensed software that's not part of the base image) but the rest is up to you".

    Users with non-standard hardware requirements (e.g. techs, medical diagnostics) purchase their hardware through diffferent channels, and get their hardware support through those same channels instead of in house. Depending on the config required, those machines may be quarantined from the domain, and may or may not have the standard application suite installed.

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