This past weekend my7 year-old daughter came up to me and asked me the question that I've dreaded since before she was born. The one question that I just never knew how I would answer. The one that I really have no sane answer for whatsoever when talking to anyone outside IT.
"Daddy… what do you do?"
Sigh. Now, she has asked me this question plenty of times before - but this time was different. I could tell by the furrowed brow and curious look on her face that my standard answer - "Well, Daddy works with computers and helps make the programs that run on them" - wasn't going to fly that day. Her response was, "Well, yes sir… I know you say that. But… how do you do that? How do you make the programs? And how does the computer run them? I don't understand what you mean by 'run them'. And what do the other people that you work with do? And who uses the programs and how do they help them?"
I'm NOT making this up. All of that to digest in 20 seconds. I knew that I needed to help her understand - I just needed a way to relate the information. Since I'm a huge fan of asking others to put themselves in someone else's shoes and using word pictures when discussing things with people, I searched the deep, dark corners of my brain for something - anything that I could use.
Then it hit me. I realized how I could help her understand what Track-It! is. And the conversation went something like this:
Me: Well, I can tell you about part of that. Where you asked me who uses the programs that we write and how they help them. You know that my team is responsible for Track-It!, right? Do you know what Track-It! is?
Her: No, sir.
Me: OK. So imagine one of the books you read when you were really little - like the Three Little Pigs. Do you want to know how they would use Track-It!?
Her:(Enthusiastically) Yes sir!
Me: So those pigs -they had to build those houses, right? How do you think they did all of that work and still were able to keep up with where everything was? They had to track things - tracking things just means to keep up with where they are and what they had.
Me: That's what Track-It! does - it lets you keep up with all of the stuff that your company has - like computers, desks, chairs, printers - things like that.
Her: And books and paper?
Me: Sure - if you want to track your books and paper, you can do that in Track-It! Part of Track-It! is something called the Inventory - that is where all of this stuff is kept on the computer so they know all about it. The pigs might have kept their straw, wood and bricks in there along with their tools and paint and anything else that they had for building houses . Now, those pigs - they had to order a lot of that stuff, right?
Her: Yeah - probably from Home Depot or Wal-Mart.
Me: Maybe - well,Track-It! has a part we call Purchasing. If you have Track-It! you can use Purchasing to keep up with orders that you placed for different things. And when the order comes in, you can add the stuff that you ordered right to the Inventory. So if the smartest one of the pigs needed a tool to help him lay his bricks, he could use Purchasing to order it and then add the tool to Inventory when it comes in - easy peezy.
Her: Cool - andanyone could use it?
Me: Yeah - and the other pigs could see when it was ordered and everything about the tool,too. That would help them understand if they wanted to use it. But what if one of the other pigs didn't know how to use the tool? They might need to take a class, right?
Me: So they could use Training in Track-It! to setup a class and make sure that they all took it so that they knew how the tool worked. And someone else could use Track-It! to see who had taken that class or to see if any one of the little pigs had taken it yet. There's also a Library part of Track-It! that would let them setup their tools and check them in and out…
Her: Just like when we go to the library and check out books, right? Then they have to bring them back or they pay a fine?
Me: Well, I don't know about the fine part, but you're right - a pig could check out the new tool and use it for a day. The other pigs would see that the tool was out and would know that they would have to wait until it was returned before they could use it…
Her: And they wouldn't have to go way over to the other pig's house just to find out that someone else was using it.
Me: Exactly. So what would happen if a pigs house got blown down? If the wolf ran away, the pig might need some help rebuilding their house, right? So they might be able to use the Help Desk in Track-It! to get some help. Companies have a Help Desk to help their employees with problems - so if my laptop at work quits working, I would go ask the Help Desk to help me fix the problem. And every time someone asks the Help Desk for help, they enter something called a Work Order - it just describes what the person is asking for.
Her: So one of the pigs might've asked the Help Desk to help them put their roof back on.
Me: Exactly. And when they put in a Work Order into Track-It!, they would enter all kinds of information into it that described what they were going to do and how they were going to do it. If they don't know how to put the roof back on, Track-It! has a part called Solutions where you can search for answers to problems that you don't know the answer to - like attaching a roof.
Her: Or how to put up a new wall because yours got blown down.
Me: Yup. And when you're done with the work you were asked to do, you can type all kinds of information into Track-It! that describes the work so that someone else can see what you did, how long it took and all sorts of cool stuff. And if you were asked to work on something that's in your Inventory - remember the Inventory? - then you can put that in the Work Order, too. So later on you can look at something in the Inventory and see all of the times that someone had to do some work on it. Does that make any sense?
Her: (With an exasperated look on her face) Yes - that's easy. What else?
Me: What if one of the pigs wanted to change the way one of the houses looks? He might want to add a new room to his house- he could use another part of Track-It! called Change Management to track information about the change that he wants to make. And you can set things up so that someone has to approve the change that someone wants to make - if it's not approved, you can't do it. That helps a company make sure that people have to follow a set of rules before certain things can happen.
OK. So I used a little creative license in explaining what a Work Order is or how the Help Desk is used. But I think she got it. We were talking later that night and she was giving me other examples of how the pigs could use Track-It! And she was correct. I talked to her about everything from administrators to notifications to Mail Monitor to Directory Importer to Event Policies by relating the concepts to her in a way that she could understand.
We have customers that run the gamut from huge educational institutions to small businesses with one IT person. And Track-It! fits their needs. The power is there for the more sophisticated user and the ease of use and quick startup time is there for the smaller shop that might be taking the plunge into their first Help Desk application and away from paper and pencil or a spreadsheet. You can trust Track-It! to help you manage your IT department from top to bottom. And as you and your organization grow, BMC has other solutions that you might grow into as well -which is a great thing. You should never have to look anywhere else for your IT solutions needs. We've got you covered.
Sometimes we just have to think about things in a different way. I kind of think that's my forte. I love figuring out new ways of dealing with problems at work just as much as figuring out how to explain a difficult topic to my daughter. She's a smart one - it usually doesn't take much of an explanation to get her to understand what I'm talking about. And I sure do enjoy hanging out with her and trying to answer those tough questions. In the end, that's what she's probably going to remember most about our time together.
And that sounds good to me.