|Company Policy||KEVIN RESCHENBERG|
This week on The Daily WTF
was an entertaining story
of a project team that used some demo software on a temporary
development server to store all of its documents. After a
year of doing this, the team needed a server for another purpose.
Operations found a temporary development server—you know
where this is headed—and repurposed it. There were no
backups, of course. The team lost a year's worth of written
There was plenty of blame to go around. Many different
parties contributed to this fiasco. But I was a little
dismayed at the number of readers who absolved Operations
of any responsibility: If company policy stated that temporary
development servers were not backed up and could be reused
at any time, then certainly Operations was not at fault!
But following company policy (or in this case, relying on it)
is no substitute for due diligence. The server was plugged
in and working, after all. A quick look would have revealed
new files on the server. A brief email, or even just unplugging
the server for a day, would have shown it was in use.
Even if Operations did not violate
company policy, its actions were negligent.
We've all probably worked with people who use
company policy as a shield, an excuse, or a way of avoiding
work. They are not team players. There are many situations in
which by-the-book adherence to company policy will hinder the
progress of the project. We must determine which is really
more important to our client or employer.
There is one case, though, where strict compliance to
policy may actually be more important than getting the work
done! In the US, we have the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX).
This law requires publicly-traded companies to control
and document their internal processes carefully, and failure to comply
can have serious consequences. When the SOX group says we
must follow certain procedures in controlling our code or
migrations, there is little room for error.
But I suspect that this is very good news for those who
want to avoid work or enforce their own ideas of proper
procedure. They just use the term "SOX" as a weapon!