Handling Exceptions to IT Policies and Procedures

John Storts
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Even though restrictions are usually in place for good reason, sometimes flexibility is required of IT when it comes to the rules. Several years ago, a coworker faced disciplinary action as a result of a website he visited frequently. He used the site for completely legitimate business reasons, as it was a popular resource for Adobe product plug-ins and information, but the company, not aware of the nature of the site or its purpose, determined that he was consuming too much bandwidth by downloading so much content. With a zero-tolerance policy in place and insufficient information about the situation, this meant that the coworker appeared to be in serious violation of Internet access rules.


It all worked out happily enough in the end, and the whole situation spurred a necessary revision of some draconian company policies, but it could have been avoided if the coworker had been able to request an exception to the Internet policy, especially since our immediate department managers were aware that he used the site for critical business needs (unlike the corporate-wide IT department staff, who had no knowledge of this need). With an exception process in place, IT would have been aware of his requirement and wouldn't have seen his activities as transgressive.


The City and County of San Francisco Committee on Information Technology (COIT) established a process for handling and evaluating such requests. Through the use of the IT Policy Exception Request Form Template, employees can submit requests to IT when they have valid reasons for activities that would normally run contrary to established policies, procedures or standards.


The form includes space to document the nature of the exception and pertinent policies, department contact information and the urgency of the request. It also provides a series of questions that the person or departmental representative must answer in order for the request to be properly considered.


Create a customized version of this request form for your business so that there's an established process you can put in motion when necessary exceptions to the rules arise.


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