Recently, I came across Kevin Beaver’s advice to define your job role:
The average network admin is having an identity crisis. Sometimes these IT pros are on top of the world with lots of responsibilities, then a few weeks pass and they’re on everyone’s bad side. Management has unrealistic expectations, and users, well, they love you and hate you – often at the same time.
Despite the up and down nature of working in IT, you actually have more power than you think to make positive changes in your job.
Kevin offers four practical steps for breaking through and finding a career you enjoy:
- Find out what it is that you’re really supposed to be doing.
- Accept responsibility.
- Set goals.
- Raise the bar.
It was the first point I found most interesting: “Find out what it is that you’re really supposed to be doing.” It seems so obvious, but if you had to get up and give a presentation in front of a kindergarten class about what you do, would your boss describe your job the same way? In a former life, I had a job where I was supposed to be devising reports about audience reach, which I did. But I also volunteered around the small business to do tech support, build a website mock-up, show someone how to do a mail merge … and none of that was in my job description. That’s the sort of natural job evolution that happens all the time, and for a small, 6 or 7 person company, it’s no big deal. But for larger companies, or if you’re looking to make sure you have the right experience for the future, it might be best to make sure what your job is on paper matches what you’re doing in the real world.
Have you encountered this slow, inevitable responsibility shift before? Did it end up getting in the way of your “real” job, or did it help you advance your career? I’d love to hear your thoughts, either in in the comments or at Michael@ITKnowledgeExchange.com.
Editor’s Note: Last week, we saw how tablet warranties could go awry, with one IT administrator stuck with the shipping tab when her tablets went wonky. Joshua Garick, a lawyer in Boston, MA., offered to share a few more reasons why IT administrators should think twice before buying that extended warranty. -MM
Warranties are often marketed as a way to provide peace of mind that you can be made whole in the event your purchase is defective. The reality, however, is that warranties are often cash cows for merchants who prey on risk adverse and legal un-savvy buyers. Most sales of tangible goods actually come with implied warranties whether or not the merchant or the manufacturer discloses their existence. As a result, it may be the case that you’re better off not purchasing elective warranties.
The sale of goods was historically governed by the caveat emptor doctrine – let the buyer beware. If a product was defective, the buyer had no recourse against a merchant. In modern times, most states have enacted consumer protection and warranty laws aimed at leveling the playing field. Some examples include:
- Implied Warranty of Merchantability: The sale of a good carries an implied warranty that the good is merchantable. This means that the good is of fair average quality, is fit for the ordinary purpose for which the good is to be used, conforms to the promises of fact made on any labels, or would otherwise pass without objection based on industry standards.
- Implied Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose: The easiest way to describe this warranty is that you get what you ask for. If you inform a merchant that you are purchasing an item for a particular purpose, and the sale is premised on this special request, the merchant has impliedly warranted that the product he sells you will be fit for that particular purpose. For example, if you tell a car dealer that you need a truck capable of towing, there is a breach of warranty if the truck he sold you is incapable of meeting this purpose – even if the truck is otherwise operable and merchantable.
- Warranties by Affirmation: In its simplest form, this is a warranty that you get what you are told you are getting. An express warranty is created when a merchant makes a statement of fact or a promise relating to the sale. Because you relied on this promise and made a purchased based on such representations, there is a warranty that the goods will conform to the promise made by the merchant. For example, if a merchant tells you they are selling you a 2005 Honda Accord, there is now a warranty that the car is actually a 2005 Honda Accord.
If a product is sold in breach of any of these warranties, the merchant is required by law to repair the product, replace the product or refund the purchase price for the product, all at their own cost. Thus, these warranties (as well as other consumer protection statutes) provide valuable tools to combat abuse. And the best part is these warranties are free of charge.
Merchants, however, can limit or even waive these implied warranties under the right circumstances. For example, if you purchase an item and the seller indicates in the bill of sale that it is sold “as is,” or “with all faults,” this constitutes a waiver of all warranties. In such a situation, the buyer should beware that he will be liable if the good is defective. A merchant may also waive implied warranties by indicating so, in writing, in an obvious or conspicuous manner (i.e., it cannot be hidden in the fine print).
More importantly, when you purchases an optional warranty such as an extended warranty, you may do so at the expense of the full protections provided by statutory warranties. For example, an extended warranty may provide only a few years of coverage; it may require the buyer to bear some costs (i.e., the cost for shipping to a repair center); or it may provide warranties against flaws in workmanship and construction only, while disclaiming all implied warranties. In these cases, a buyer may be in a better position if he declines to purchase the extended warranty because he is afforded full protection of the warranties provided by law – not just the provisions the merchant decides to offer its customers.
This is not to suggest that all extended warranties are bad investment or that they always disclaim implied warranties. Like any contract, it is important to read the small print to understand the terms of a merchant’s warranty. Similarly, since consumer protection and warranty laws vary by state, it is important to understand the legal landscape in your jurisdiction to learn of your legal alternatives. Though seemingly a daunting task, there is a wealth of information available online, from attorneys, from the Federal Trade Commission and similar state agencies, from your state attorney general’s office, and from consumer advocacy agencies.
Joshua N. Garick, Esq. is a graduate of Cornell University and Suffolk Law School. He is an attorney licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and focuses his practice on all areas of civil litigation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Krigsman’s IT Failures Blog is a perennial favorite around the IT Knowledge Exchange office (who doesn’t love peering in on a good train wreck?), and so when he pointed out Michiko Diby’s 6 Questions that Get at the Heart of Project Failure, I had a feeling it would be a worthwhile read.
Diby’s 6 points could prove quite handy when doing a perished project’s port-mortem, and Dilby even offers in depth looks at each of the categories:
- Intent Failure – Occurs when the project doesn’t bring enough addedvalue or capability to beat down the obstacles inherent throughout the process. This suggests the original intent of the project was flawed from the beginning.
- Sponsor Failure – Occurs when the person heading up the project is not actively engaged and/or does not have the authority to make decisions critical to project success.
- Design and Definition/Scope Failure – Occurs when the scope is not clearly defined, so the project team is unclear on deliverables.
- Project Discipline Failure – Occurs when process/project methodology is allowed to lapse so that the mitigation factors inherent in the process are never used.
- Supplier/Vendor Failure – Occurs when the structure of supplier /vendor relationships doesn’t allow for communication and adjustments.
Communications Failure – Occurs when communications are infrequent or honest discussion of project problems and issues are avoided.
But while hindsight is a glorious 20/20, what would be really useful is a system for flagging these problems down before the latest initiative, with your name stamped boldly at the top, goes ingloriously awry.
More on IT project failures:
- Preventing Project Failures, Michiko Diby’s blog
- Michael Krigsman’s take on Diby’s six types of IT project failure
- 10 innovative ways to become a “lousy” project manager
- The Perils, Pitfalls, and Pluses of Project Management
But after actually getting the tablets, one developed a defective keyboard. No problem: Judith had invested in the extended warranty. The only problem was that Fujitsu wasn’t as generous with their extended warranty as they are with review devices:
As Judith recounts:
When we purchased Fujitsu tablets for our teachers about 16 months ago, we purchased an extended warranty for them. When I contacted Fujitsu about a malfunctioning keyboard this week I discovered that we are responsible for the cost of shipping the defective machine back to them. It’s in the fine print available on their website. I’ve had to have machines from other companies in the past, and the shipping was covered by the maker. Is this a new policy for all or most makers, or just Fujitsu’s idea of service?
Others had been similarly burned on shipping charges by Gateway, while several users singled out Lenovo for superior customer care — including picking up the shipping tab for any warranty-covered problems.
Any other fine print fiascos you’ve seen or experienced first hand? Leave the details in the comments so others know what to look out for, or e-mail me at Michael@ITKnowledgeExchange.com.
More on tablet PCs and warranties:
- The Standard exposes dirty vendor tricks
- Laptop Magazine has a tech support showdown
- TabletPCReview goes in depth with the Fujitsu Lifebook P1620