Inserting a Pause in IT

One of my supervisors gave me sage advice while coming up the IT learning curve: “Insert a pause.” Even if it seems to be going smoothly, if the process seems perfect, insert a pause.

  • Insert a pause between the time a user acceptance agreement is presented and the user is shown the “accept” button. This improves the odds they will actually read it and thus understand it.
  • Insert a pause in new document creation prior to submittal. Users make fewer mistakes if they must take the time to review their work before submitting it.
  • Insert a pause in online document reviews. If possible, require users to actually open and thus view the documents they are supposed to be reviewing. I have observed automatic sign offs of documents in online document management systems in order to clear out the task list. I have personally received helpdesk requests to undo a document’s released status because old files were left attached to the new revision or old, default metadata was left in the new document’s fields.
  • Insert a pause in email transmissions. Yes, living in a networked world creates a flurry of instant information. Yet a delay between pushing the “send” button and a few moments later when you realize the horrible mistake it was to send the awkward message is a classic joke because it is so common. Place emails and notifications in a “draft” or “holding” folder for a few minutes before sending. The delay is minor in the scope of human affairs, but the prevention of major faux-pa(use)x  is priceless.
  • Insert a pause between the time an error message is presented and when the user can close it. I’ve witnessed users close an error window that clearly describes how to fix the problem in order to quickly get to the resubmit button. They could have resolved their own problem if they had read the message, and inserting a pause to encourage reading the error window would have reduced the IT helpdesk call volume.