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Ready for Inspection

By Andy Warren,

Today we have a guest editorial from Andy Warren.

We often talk about government learning from the private sector, but I think the reverse can be true as well. For example, one thing the military does well and does frequently are inspections. Not the ‘are all your socks lined up correctly’ kind of inspection, but the kind where a team from a higher level office comes in to inspect (audit, to a degree) whether  you’re following all the procedures and guidance in a relevant area. What can we learn from that?

The military moves people around a lot. It does that to expose them to new people and new situations, but it also means the entire institution is built on change. Every few years a unit will see close to a one hundred percent turnover in staff. Imagine if your current employer had that kind of turnover! It’s not enough to just write down the processes, you have to continually go through the process of getting someone hired and up to speed, and all too soon they leave and it starts again. Inspections are way to make sure that those transitions are managed and that those that are behind get help before it gets out of hand.

Imagine that a team was arriving next Monday to inspect your work. Checking your servers for service packs and configuration, checking your monitoring and change control processes (you did follow it didn’t you?), and reviewing your documentation and disaster recovery plans. How would you fare? Got a few things you would want to get fixed before then? Don’t we all!

There is a tendency to make excuses; the vendor won’t let me load the service pack, they don’t give me time to do monitoring, they won’t agree to change control. All of that might be true, and more. Your job is to fix the things you can and let management know about the things you can’t.  The inspection is about your work, but it’s also about whether your manager and your employer are sticking to their own policies and directives.

Inspections aren’t likely to catch on with the corporate world, but that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for the one you wish you were getting. Once a year inventory your situation, find the things that need to be done that aren’t, and go fight for time and money to fix them. Maybe they all won’t get fixed, but you’ll be doing your job well, and you’ll know that you’ve done what you can with what you had to work with.

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