Anyone who follows me on Twitter will know I didn’t have a particularly peachy morning. It started when our IT manager gave me unrestricted internet access. This brought cries of WooHoo! from me as I could potentially start to look at branching out our SocMed capabilities. The caveat, however, was that the access was handled by our Citrix mainframe, meaning I was essentially logging in again when I needed to access the web. The downsides to this were:

  • I could only use IE7
  • I couldn’t use plugins (bye bye Web Developer Toolbar)
  • I couldn’t use FireFox et al (bye bye cross platform testing)
  • I couldn’t upload as I was logged into a different system from my own and couldn’t see my C Drive
  • Local apps that log me in based on my NT Login ceased to work

…and so on. Needless to say I wasn’t happy, but I was fully aware it wasn’t IT’s fault; they were trying to help me but unfortunately hindered me because they didn’t fully understand what I required. A lot of this revolves around the requirements placed on them by GovConnect; I don’t know that much about this initiative so I won’t go into it here. Suffice to say it’s caused a LOT of headaches around the authority. Again, this isn’t directly IT’s fault. They’re putting protocols into place because they have to.

I got my restricted but usable access back, but this got me thinking; everyone is very quick to vilify IT for blocking access to things, putting in protocols that hinder rather than help and not letting you install essential software on your machine. But it’s probably not their fault.

We’ve got some major roadworks going on round City Hall. Major. They’re going to screw up the road system, cause delays and generally tick a lot of people off. But this isn’t the workers fault. They’re just doing their job, what they’re told to do. It’s the same with our IT dept; I got a dialogue going with our IT head who told me that they have to follow legislation as to who can and cannot have and do certain things.

That’s fine; I’m happy with that. Large organisations have restrictions, that’s a given. I’m more than happy to play by the rules. But are these rules appropriate in the ever evolving technological world? And why should there not be managed exceptions so that higher end tech people can do their jobs (and I’m not just talking web bod’s like me)? Is GovConnect really THAT all encompassing that every single system in Local Government needs to be locked down tighter than a medieval virgin’s chastity belt?

I think that one of the key issues here is localisation. To my knowlege there is no drive from Central Gov to push a standard that we should all work to. We’re expected to develop better service delivery but set our localised protocols, also working within restrictive legislation such as GovConnect. And the localisation only breeds siloing which means that departments only ever end up working to their own rules anyway.

There is a distinct need to work together internally. IT don’t care about how the website works; and I don’t expect them to. What I do want, however, is an understanding from them of how I want to improve the web, as well as learn from them what their restrictions are and try and evolve their protocols to meet both of our needs. And this is, I’m sure not just applicable to the situation between me and IT; I can name a couple of other sections who can’t seem to gel when their protocols contradict one another. We should be evolving, not rooting ourselves in “My way’s best, so nyah!”

I guess what I hope to achieve from this post is a discussion; who has fallen foul of GovConnect? Is it the big bad wolf I seem to think it is? Shouldn’t we all by trying to forge better relationships instead of squabbling interdepartmentally all the time? Who should be pushing for the cohesion of systems? Or am I simply being a bit of a web-dev diva and throwing my toys out of the pram because someone is telling me I can’t deliver a system in the way I want to?