Defining User Types

Large organizations have many different types of users. The following are some of the differences that influence a user's pattern of computer usage:

  • The organizational unit (OU) to which the user belongs (such as accounting, engineering, or marketing).

  • The type of work the user performs (technical, executive, or administrative support, for example).

  • Where the user performs their work (such as in an office, from a remote location, or at a shared computer).

  • The degree of autonomy the user requires to do their job.

  • The amount and type of support the user requires.

In addition, it is also important to note whether the user is:

Roaming    Many users move from one computer to another. Roaming users typically do not take a computer with them when they move from one location to another; instead, they use the computer at the location where they are working. Receptionists or bank tellers who often work at several different desks are examples of roaming users.

Mobile    A growing number of workers travel regularly and perform their work using a portable computer. While traveling, they are frequently disconnected from the network, and often connect to the network using low-bandwidth connections. Sales people and consultants are frequently in the mobile user category.

Remote    Remote users differ from mobile users because they generally connect to the network from a fixed location, such as a branch or home office that often involves a slow or intermittent network link.

Task-based    Users who require a computer to perform a specific, limited set of tasks, such as entering orders. The task-based user might only require a computer running Terminal Services. Receptionists and bank tellers are examples of task-based users.

Knowledge Workers    Users, such as engineers, lawyers, graphic designers, and programmers, who place the greatest demands on their computers, often require specialized applications and customized configurations.

If you have not done so already, create a table such as Table 23.1 to identify the user types within your organization (some employees fit into multiple categories).

Table   23.1 Example User Type Table



Work Group


Applications Required

Support Required

Amount of Autonomy

Chief Financial Officer

Knowledge Worker



Mandatory and Optional



Branch Manager

Remote Knowledge Worker


Branch Office

Mandatory and Optional



Sales Person

Mobile Knowledge Worker



Mandatory and Optional



Assembly Line Worker

Roaming Task-Based Worker


Various Factory Floor Locations





Roaming Task-Based Worker


Various Headquarter Locations




Facts about users by itself is not sufficient information to create client standards. You must develop an in-depth understanding of their needs and the problems they might be experiencing (for example, data lost due to a computer failure, having equal access to data no matter where they are, or keeping their data synchronized with that of other users even if they are often disconnected from the network). Only after you truly understand your users and their computing needs can you devise appropriate client standards.

Assessing Requirements for User Types

After you understand the basic business needs of your users, you need to assess your current and desired environments to complete your client standards. To do this, examine the following:

  • Software requirements

  • Computer hardware

  • Administrative model

  • Desktop configurations

The following sections provide representative sets of requirements for both "basic" and "advanced" users. Basic requirements, as defined here, are most commonly applied to task-based employees. Advanced requirements are typically applied to knowledge workers. For more information about how to meet the needs of basic and advanced users, see "Applying Change and Configuration Management" in this book. However, these profiles are generic. Your organization's standards will differ, and you might want to create standards for additional categories of users depending on your organization's needs.