Users consider their needs top priority. Not only that, but when they pick up the phone or press the send button of their email client, they demand immediate service. System Administrators on the other hand are trained (over time) to objectively distinguish between real emergencies (threats to the organization’s business operation if not dealt with) and the rest.
So whenever an urgent situation arises, step back and ask yourself:
– Urgent for whom?
– Why is this urgent?
– Is there a process missing here??
These are important questions, especially if there exists no process covering the situation. Organizations have written workflows that define processes, but operate on the evolution of those rules which are mostly undocumented. If you identify a missing process, your reaction to the matter will create a process, no matter what. Solve the problem as a fireman and you have just created a process with your name hardcoded in it. Not your team, your name. People will look for you.
Identify that it is about a missing process problem that needs to be fixed and everybody will promise to you that it will be dealt with. Only it will not. The next time it arises, they will come back to you, because you did it the first time and now you are (informally) in charge of “those things”.
This is neither good for you nor for your employer. So the need to say “No, I will not fix that this way. Create a process and I will” arises. It is to the benefit of your employer to do so. It makes certain that for this particular situation they are not depended from a single person (you). It also protects your time, weekends and vacation. Explain this to upper management. Learn to say “No” in a productive way. Make sure this is not misunderstood as BOFHiness from your part. Put a price tag on what it means not doing it the formal way.
As a System Administrator you do not only manage the computers in your organization. You manage the people using them too. You manage human-computer systems. And whenever there is a void in the workflow, you need to do your best to create a process. Otherwise it will be created without your intervention. You do not want that. You are the System manager.
Eliminating unnecessary processes is part of the job too, but this is maybe for another blog post.