Why We Need to Talk to Each Other

We’ve been having problems with our hosting service provider the past couple of weeks. Not on our public website thank heavens, but on our private collaboration spaces serving our clients. The whole thing is powered by an application called Expression Engine, and for our clients to be able to login and receive notifications of new updates, the application talks to our service provider’s SMTP server – or tries to.

Last week, all on different days, the notifications stopped working, the login page stopped working, and my permissions to post to specific pages got blocked. And this was happening to our clients too. Each time, I’d call Maish Nichani, our master web architect, and each time he’d call the service provider and get them to fix the problem by changing the settings on the server. Then a day or two later the same problem, or a different one would creep back in.

This was obviously affecting our clients, so we got rather upset about this, and threatened to take away our business. Maish has brought them several customers, so finally the CTO took notice and found out what was going on.

The techies at our service provider work in two shifts – and it seems there’s no handover. They just don’t talk to each other. So when our problem is fixed in the morning by changing the permissions on the server, the guy on the next shift coming in sees there’s an unusual setting, and in the interests of preventing any security weakness, shifts the settings back to their most secure level (they’d had a spam attack on the server the week before all this started, so they were on high alert).

So we found ourselves caught in a ludicrous seesaw between somebody taking the initiative to protect the whole system, and somebody who was fixing a problem for their customer. The CTO only found out about this when the guy who was on the fixing shift sent an email – finally – to ask if whoever was re-setting the server could stop doing it and please leave the settings as they were.

So we say empowerment and initiative are good things, but if we don’t add routine coordination and communication processes, we in our connected enterprises can easily become completely dysfunctional.

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