A colleague called me yesterday and asked for some advice. The organisation that she works for has a small network at the main site (/24 subnet) with a couple hundred users and their DHCP scope was running at around 90% allocation. She wanted to change the subnet to a /23 and increase the scope size.
Their change management process requires management approval, but because the IT manager was on pre-retirement leave, the approval had to go up to the executive level. Justification was shown using the current allocation and historical data on how the network has grown. Still, the executive doesn’t see the need for it, and want further justification for the change.
The executive is not an IT person, but even so, I can’t see why he was blocking such a simple change.
My colleague wanted help convincing the executive.
She asked if there would be any adverse effects to changing the scope size, considering reasons against such a change. I explained that the DHCP server performance will be unaffected, and that network degradation would be expected as the network grew. I said that it would be wise to look at segmenting the network, especially putting the servers within their own network.
But considering that the executive was blocking a simple change, I can’t imagine what would happen if she suggested a major change such as segmentation.
Now this change would be as simple as changing the subnet mask from 255.255.255.0 to 255.255.254.0 (even if you don’t understand what I mean, take my word for it that it was simple in this case). I do not know exactly what the executive was thinking as I only spoke to my colleague, but suggested a few things that she may try to convince him to approve the change.
• What may happen if you don’t change?
At the moment, the scope capacity is at an urgent level, but not quite critical. The team now has the opportunity to take their time and practice due diligence to properly determine all the changes required, and reduce the chances of any disruption.
However, if you do nothing, the issue may become critical, and considering the number of network devices proliferating the office environment – mobile phones, tablets, and network connected coffee machines – the scope can become quickly depleted. When the issue becomes critical, clients may have difficulty accessing the network and new services cannot be added. The team may now need to seek outside help to expedite resolution, resulting in extra costs incurred.
Doesn’t he feel that it’s better to avoid the risks?
• Will he take responsibility and accountability?
When the issue does become critical, he will be the one who will ultimately be held responsible and accountable, since he was the one who blocked the change.
Wouldn’t he be better off not feeling responsible for the issues?
• Will he prefer the stress when things get critical?
Will he be okay with the stress and frustration that may come when the issue becomes critical.
He can simply remove this source of stress by implementing the change now.
Wouldn’t he feel that this is better course of action?
Why this approach
You will notice that none of these tips talk about the technical nature of the issue, or how DHCP or IP addresses work. The reason is that many decisions are emotional, and considering the details as I have them, a technical discussion will probably not alter his resolve.
Also note that you are trying to get a “Yes” answer to your questions, so that there’s a better chance of getting a yes answer to the approval. Manipulative? Possibly. But I expect that your intentions are for the good. (It’s for the good, right?)
Will these tips work? I don’t know, and there may be more to the story. But for such a minimal change, the concern is unwarranted.
My other advice was less pragmatic – surreptitiously make the change on a evening and no one may be none the wiser. As Grace Hopper once said, “It is better to beg forgiveness, than ask permission.”
Of course, I really don’t recommend anyone does that last bit (please don’t say that I said to do that) and you should always follow your change management procedures, but if you did do it, I’ll understand. 🙂
What about you? Have you encountered similar challenges in your workplace? How have you handled it? Do you have any tips that you wish to share? Please add to the discussion using the comment section below. We will all appreciate it.