It can never be said enough times – you need to ensure that people understand what you’re talking about.
Case in point, my staff and I recently needed to restore a server that had failed at a new client’s location. This client is in the mining industry, so the physical machine was in a pretty dirty state. Making a long story short and after much swearing and yelling, we were able to recover the server to the point where it would boot up by using a virtual environment (topic for another post). We then needed to access a very specific piece of software that contained operational data that our client’s staff needed to access. We were able to open that software, which then prompted us for a user name and password. I asked the client for that information, and was given a user name and password that they said they used regularly.
It didn’t work.
Fast forward 6 hours of trying to find a backdoor or break into the software using other means. Finally, we found a way in using a backdoor admin account, hooray! We brought the temporary server in its virtualized environment back to the client’s location. We let the manager log in and watched them open the above-mentioned software. Before I was able to verbally give them the backdoor admin account credentials, to our amazement, they entered a different user account name and password and got instant access. Obviously I was quite stunned and explained what we had to do to gain access because the user name and password they provided didn’t work. The response was “oh, I thought you meant to log in after you turn the computer on and it’s at the blue screen” (this is a literal quote… what they meant was they thought we were requiring the Windows login credentials). Now, this situation turned out fine for us because I was very clear in what I had asked for and the manager knew that. It was a misunderstanding by one of the administrative staff, no malicious intent on either party.
However, this example none the less still illustrates the importance of clear understanding. You literally need to spell things out, and ensure that other people understand what you’re asking for / saying. Misconceptions can happen so easily and so quickly, it’s a very slippery slope.