Network Administration: Network User Management

The real challenge of managing a network is managing the network’s users. Managing the technology is the easiest part of network management. Computer technology can be confusing at first, but computers aren’t nearly as confusing as people.

The difference between managing technology and managing users is obvious: You can figure out computers, but you can never really figure out people. The people who use the network are much less predictable than the network itself. Here are some tips for dealing with users:

  • Training is a key part of the network manager’s job. Make sure that everyone who uses the network understands it and knows how to use it. If the network users don’t understand the network, they may unintentionally do all kinds of weird things to it.

  • Never treat your network users like they’re idiots. If they don’t understand the network, it isn’t their fault. Explain it to them. Offer a class. Buy them each a copy of Networking All-in-One For Dummies and tell them to read it during their lunch hour. Hold their hands. But don’t treat them like idiots.

  • Make up a network cheat sheet that contains everything that the users need to know about using the network on one page. Make sure that everyone gets a copy.

  • Be as responsive as possible when a network user complains of a network problem. If you don’t fix the problem soon, the user may try to fix it. You probably don’t want that.

  • The better you understand the psychology of network users, the more prepared you’ll be for the strangeness they often serve up. Toward that end, read the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (also known as DSM-IV) cover to cover.