My employer currently has a strict SOE (Standard Operating Environment) policy for company computers. This means that all software installation on my work laptop must be approved, and group policy is set up so that as a user I'm blocked from installing applications on my computer.

I want to justify the installation of utility applications such as Notepad++, WinGrep and WinMerge which I find very useful. These utilities are much better than default apps which come built-in with windows.

In addition, I want to drive company IT culture away from the "one size fits all" mentality that currently pervades.

What advice do you have for:

  1. Justifying the apps I've mentioned; and
  2. Moving the culture away from the one size fits all so that users can install apps we find useful to our work.


  • 3
    I think you're unlikely to get this done. N++ can do a thumb drive install I believe so you could somewhat get around the policy there.
    – Andy
    Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 1:12
  • 2
    N++ through portable apps might work unless they block unknown executables all together.. Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 5:28
  • 1
    Thanks. The suggestion to use portable apps is a good one until I get approval to install the standard apps. Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 1:21
  • 2
    SEO? I suppose you can tell us how Workplace Stack Exchange looks on IE6 then?
    – Nathan
    Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 23:51

2 Answers 2


If your company has an IT department that has open-minded IT people, your request and justification should not be difficult. However, since this is a strict policy, you should do everything formally such as making a proposal.

Regarding your first question, you should cite some examples of applications that you request to be allowed. Discuss their features and the benefit of using them. Don't forget to point out that these apps promote ease of use and help you with your job drastically. Be creative in choosing your adverbs and adjectives for persuasion.

If they ask, "Don't you have any alternatives?", it is then within your knowledge on how to defend that. We don't know what's currently installed in your machines.

Regarding your second question, this is quite tough to change, especially if the company is composed of closed-minded, senior people who do not want to entertain changes. What you can do is to make a history review of the company on why they intended to implement such thing. From there, plan out on how you can outsmart them with their implementation. One size fits all is not always beneficial. That's a fact.

Your second mission could be a long one. You should start with your first mission to establish evidences that these apps really could be useful. If you have already proven your point, then finishing your second mission would be easier. However, changing a culture is a herculean task.

  • 1
    I would also try and quantify the cost benefits eg it takes me an hour to do this task with tool and b installed compared to 1/2 a day without. Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 11:49
  • 1
    I would worry that looking at this issue as one of open-minded-IT vs. senior-people-who-don't-like-change could blind you to the motivation behind these policies and ultimately limit your ability to impact them in any way.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 12:36
  • Yes, I'm going to spend some time today writing a proposal that includes a justification for each app. Annoying, but I think ultimately it's worth getting the trust of IT. Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 1:25

When your organization has a strict Standard Operating Environment policy, then you should go through the formal channels to have your tools added to that environment.

Make a formal proposal through the proper channel to add these tools to the SOE.

Common reasons not to add tools to a SOE are:

  • They add maintainance overhead. In organisations with an SOE policy, there is usually one department responsible for keeping all software up-to-date and trigger automatic updates on the client machines. The more software they have in their portfolio, the more work they have with that. Software might be incompatible with other software, so the effort of maintaining the portfolio grows quadratically. To negate these concerns, explain how these applications don't need to be updated constantly, that not updating them immediately is not that big of a problem and that they usually play well with any other software installed on the system.
  • They might compromise security. One important argument for SOE policies is that they prevent employees from installing software which might be backdoored, contain malware or might be unsafe to use for some other reason. These concerns might be alleviated by pointing out that these are widely-used open source tools.
  • And some of the policies may include the need to pass a security audit or meet the legal requirements of client contracts where open source tools may not be allowed. There are often compliance reasons behind these policies.
    – HLGEM
    Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 21:30

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .