I read Tom’s post, Rules Shouldn’t Have Exceptions and I completely understand where Tom is coming from. Tom makes a really good point, executive management should be involved in the policy creation. If they arent, there will be exceptions.
When I was CTO with Ascolta we were on exchange and enforced limits on Mailbox size. I’m not kidding when I tell you that my mailbox quota was 50MB. Eventually that was increased because employees and management couldnt delete certain files. Our CFO & CEO had the largest mailboxes in the company so there was no quota on their mailbox. Most of the employees didn’t know they were the exception to the rule, but we did. And as time went by we started getting a lot of pushback from employees. IT slowly gave in to the squeaky wheels and there was no standard of mailbox size. We did get to the point where we didn’t have the storage capacity, time, or desire to manage our email in house. We moved to Google Apps which afforded a much larger mailbox per user, something like 25GB/user. If an employee came close to that limit we wouldn’t sweat the policy issues because it wasn’t us setting limits and making rules, it was Google.
Is It An Exception If It’s Written In The Policy?
To that end, what if executive management is involved in policy decisions, like mailbox size. What would happen if the policy came out looking something like this:
Mailbox Size Limitations
- Operations 1GB
- Sales 1GB
- IT 1GB
- Management 10GB
Is that an exception to the rule? I suppose it could be read that way. The rule is 1GB mailboxes except for Management who gets 10GB mailboxes. Will policy like this cause problems? True, some may get their feathers ruffled but I think the effect will be minimal. What it will do though, is provide a written baseline for IT to provision resources. Management wont complain and ask to be an exception to the rule, and employees will learn to live with it.
But There’s An Exception To Every Rule, Right?
As I pondered the thought of an exception to every rule I couldn’t help but think about what makes a rule “a rule”. It’s gotta be in writing right? Once it’s in print, it’s law. And in the past it was commonplace to have printed employee handbooks. The handbook was law and employees signed in agreement. Today the rules must be fluid. Edit a bit of HTML and our online employee handbook reflects the current rules, policies, and procedures. Changing the rules more frequently reflects the essence of todays business environments. Our business requirements change, why shouldn’t our policies?
I like the points Tom made in his post and I don’t think we are too far off in our thinking. I can gaurantee that writing a policy and saying there will be no exceptions is never going to stick. However, like Tom said, it should encourage management to get involved in the policy decisions. With management involved and fluid policy based on the current needs of the business, IT can readily meet the challenge of managing the implementation and enforcement of the rules.