Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Road to Hell... paved with the best intentions of employees who think it's easier to do things for our users than to let them sink or swim on their own.

This employee is my minion. Please chime in in the comments on what a stupid and short-sighted idea this is. Seriously. I can't convince him. Maybe you can.


Anonymous said...

dude, just don't answer the phone.

Anonymous said...

Apparently someone missed the part of "empowering end-users" and "content experts owning the content".

Just saying.

CS God?

Propeller Head said...

Give somebody a fish and they eat for a meal. Teach a person to fish and they get mercury poisoning from eating too much fish.

@brendensparks said...

I think your cat analogy is perfect. Besides, you can always tell him that any time he spends working for other people on campus he doesn't get paid--since he's not doing *his* job, but rather someone else's.

Anonymous said...

Your minion sounds like me. It took me a couple years, but I've found a balance that I can keep consistent, and it's working well:

- If it's something that will only have to happen once ever, do it for them (example: if they get married and change their name, I'll change the name of their site, even though they can technically do it. They still need to update any mentions of their name in their content.)

- If it's something that they (or someone) will need to do annually or every once in a while, but not frequently enough to memorize the process, I provide step-by-step instructions and offer help if they have problems.

- If it's something they will do enough to memorize it, I provide step-by-step instructions and offer to walk them through it on the phone the first time or two.

- Never, ever, ever reset someone's password until they tell you exactly why the Lost Password link doesn't work....because they're lying, it does work, and they are too lazy. (This is definitely my guilty pleasure.)

david said...

I know, I know, feeding trolls and all that.

I do feel that I have to defend myself here, though.

This specific case is different. I've been working with this particular client for five - yes, five - years. I've walked him or her through our process literally dozens of times one-on-one in person, yet still I get calls asking how to do the same task. My stance is that if I don't do the work, nobody will, so it just won't get done. I don't like that as an end result, so if ten minutes of my time every few weeks or so is the price to make everyone happy, that's okay - especially because when I don't help out, the client tends to send emails to the entire campus with broken links, etc...

So yeah, I love training and answering phones for support, but to borrow an analogy: helping some people understand is like training cats.

D.W. said...

I work more in print and this is still applies. You some times go an extra step to help people and provide good service -- or because it's faster to do it yourself than to walk them through it -- and you create expectations for constant aid.

Sherman Cahal said...

Oh how true this is... my voicemail box is nearly full from one particular user alone, who calls me as I'm about to leave work at 4:45 PM (I ignore the call), or on a Sunday (like I'm here). His web-site is "his life," as he puts it, but his web-site is not -my life-. Big difference.

Yet Another Girl said...

As someone about to lead a CMS launch, I hope my experience is more positive! ;>

Dr. Chuck said...

I am kind of with the minion on this one. If you don't take care of the customers - someone else will. It was WACM who forced them to use the content system, I am guessing - "try this it will be easy to use" - and then when it is not easy to use - you blame the users. It is WACM's job to answer the questions until the person learns how to do it. Here is my solution to a person who asks the same question over and over again... Use some screen cast software to narrate the process once - make the little video quite custom and tell the user exacty what they need to do. Give them the video and each time they call for a quick reminder - ask if they have played the video. At some point the five minute video keeps you from repeating the exact same words over and over to the same person. I teach large classes full of beginners and I use click by click screencasts all the time - because if they don't get it - I will end up showing them one-on-one how to do the five minute task. Its very much worth it to record simple instructions.

Amanda said...

Isn't the point of a CMS that you set it up in such a way that the end users don't need to call you to make changes?????!?

Trevor Beck said...

David, I know EXACTLY what you're dealing with - you feel the it's less painful to do it yourself than to walk through the process yet again!

What I ended up doing is walking through the process one more time and recorded my desktop and voice. It doesn't have to be professional - it's just something that you can point to when this person (or someone else) calls.

Anonymous said...

A screencast archive can be good for common tasks.

Though I agree with the preference for long-term happiness, what if it is not "them" that sinks? The site sinks. The users suffer. The content expert goes merrily about their way without consequence.

Anonymous said...

I was in this same situation for a year. Of course it's faster in the short run if you just do it for them. But of course, one thing leads to another.

The whole idea that I was actually doing their job caught up to me one day and I had an epiphany. The next call I got was from someone I would do this for all the time. I was ready.

"Need that change? Sure. It's 20 bucks." Huge pause....and finally..."huh?"

"It's 20 bucks," I said. I then explained to him that I was doing his job, and that i had no problem continuing to do that, but I wasn't going to do it for free anymore. If he wasn't willing to pay someone else to do his work, he would have to do it himself.

And now that's my response. And it works at my organization. Legalities aside, it works quite well. Most people decided it wasn't worth it, and learned how to use the CMS for good. Others decided to pay. I make about an extra $200 a month now. Everyone's happy.

I know. It's a very bizarre solution. And I have to be very careful where I implement it, but it works.

Scott said...

Part of the problem is, several of my departmental editors only make substantial changes once a year. So, I go through the training with them, but they only use it that day. Next year when they're ready to update their content again, we have to practically start from scratch because they've forgotten everything.

I don't have a magic bullet for this.

Some things I've decided aren't worth constantly training and re-training, so I just do it myself--online forms are a good example. Most departments only have a couple of them, they don't change that often, and there's a pretty steep learning curve.

However, when a person wants me to change something for them because it's just a small update and they don't plan on doing anything else, I tell them that they will do it and we will train them to do it because their pages need a lot of work, they just don't see it yet.

Anyway, I kind of want to print out this comic and mail it anonymously to certain people on campus ... but I often feel that way about TFRL. And they would know it's me anyway.

Isaac said...

It was jarring to read this. I deal with almost the exact same problems

Yewtree said...

Step 1: Write some tutorials and offer training in using the CMS.

Step 2: Have an email support queue for the whole team that all users have to use.

Step 3: When they ask how to do something for the umpty-umpth time, email them the web address of the tutorial. (If there isn't one already for the task they are trying to do, write it and send them the link.)

Anonymous said...

Or, better yet, make it so onerous for the website owner to make timely changes that your campus winds up with an 'all flavors equal vanilla' look for the entire university and content remains static. What a (not so) great idea. Find that balance between centralized conversion of sites and opportunities for end-user customization/updates and you may have something going.

Anonymous said...

In response to this point:
Apparently someone missed the part of "empowering end-users" and "content experts owning the content".

Here's the rub: the CMS approach assumes basic competency with word processing software. The reality is that it's entirely possible to keep your administrative job in higher ed without any computing skills whatsoever, especially if you can convince the web staff to do your work for you.

Website redesigns and new authoring systems won't make a difference if supervisors don't recruit staff with basic skills and confront incompetency.

I learned this the hard way. Now, I raise this point early and often at the start of cms implementation.