...is more often than not something like this.
The comment thread on my recently posted digital divide article seems to be going strong, several days later. One recent post by an anonymous coward sticks out to me. I can't help but hear it read out in the sarcastic voice of the PHB of one of my clients - filled with outdated prejudices that have proven so counterproductive …
The IT Dept is there to do one thing.
Say 'No' to everyone who does not work in that dept.
Being Inflexible is not even half the story. Saying No is their first response to everything.
Anything else is just 'More than my JobsWorth'.
After 40+ years in IT on both sides of the fence I can see how the behaviour came about.
Anything outside their SOP is just far too risky to even contemplate.
They don't care if THEIR IT policies make life in the rest of the company difficult, frustrating and even a downright PITA for the 'mere IT Users'. The IT bods don't care because they have all this elevated access which they need to do their job.
Take one example.
Someone decided that ALL domains that use DYNDNS are a security risk and blocked them. One of our key suppliers at the time was a small company in Nashville TN, USA. Freely exchanging data was all part and parcel to both companies working well together. Suddenly all electronic comms was cut off from inside the internal network including email. It took the personal intervention of the company MD to even get email restored. We never got anthing else. We gave up and started using a dropBox like service instead. Yeah, that is hardly secure but when you are faced with NO NO NO what do you do in order to get the job done.
Then along came BYOD. Before BYOD there was a guest WiFi network. Whilst slow it worked and was used by visitors who didn't want their laptop/tablet pulled apart by the IT Security for half a day before they would allow it to be connected to the Intranet. All was well and understood.
BYOD changed all that. Even the Guest network was locked down. No visitors could access the internet unless they used a 3g dongle. Woe betide anyone caught by the IT Dept using one in the building. Snotograms would fly.
BYOD was perceived as a clear and present threat to the IT Dept so up went the shutters and the there NO's became 10+ followed by a 'and never in a million years'.
BYOD died a death.
Did any of the changes made to combat BYOD get removed? Nope.
Yes I hate company IT depts. As the post referenced by Trevor says clearly, IT depts are there to serve themselves and not the company. Those comments are NO OUTDATED Mr Potts. They are alive and well not only all over the UK but well beyod these shores.
Nuke. What should happen to 99% of all IT depts.
btw, I fully expect my IT dept to read this and retaliate by cutting off my remote access or even lock me out of the network altogether. They are that petty minded.
You seem to be complaining about Security clampdowns (that have not been taken in discussion with management), not about IT as such.
Maybe the fault is with management, not with IT? Maybe one wanted to prevent the fail train to stop at the door of IT while the other people where not taking responsibilites and were out golfing?
Exactly. The gripes people are having are with IT policy which, with the exception of what kind of encryption to use and the length / complexity of your password, kind of isn't set inside the IT department. You can whine and complain all you like that IT is responsible for Security lockdowns and what devices are and are not supported, but the reality is, that's set by both the budget and higher departments. In other words, go yell at the CEO or the Accounting department if you want some change -> larger budgets so IT departments can afford to have one extra person on staff just to deal with Apple equipment, or what have you; or policy changes so that most of the websites / services aren't blocked, because you're supposed to be working at work, instead of surfing the web.
Your boss doesn't want you to work from home? Guess what, you're not getting the permissions to VPN in to do that. Does IT care, at all, whether you VPN in? Fuck no. The entire company could VPN in, from the beach, somewhere nice, and provided they weren't leaking any sensitive data or introducing any viruses to the network, what does IT care?
in fact, with the exception of the occasional hardware upgrade, most of the IT department would probably prefer to be on one of those beaches using a vpn to do most of their work. OK, doesn't work out so well for service desk grunts like me, but 60-70% of the systems admin stuff can be done remotely.
You appear to be complaining about IT managers, the stuffed shirts who haven't worked with real hardware and software since the Pentium 2 was big news and Windows NT 4 was Microsoft's latest and greatest.
Many of them have never worked at the coal face in their entire careers and often don't know the difference between a terrabyte and a tampax, yet make decisions (based largely on a combination of fear, and what miscellaneous sales muppets have told them) that can knacker the entire company and make the real IT workers lives absolute hell as they are the ones that have to implement their bonkers policies and take the flack from the rest of the staff.
IT Managers. Worse than the Marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporations, and should probably suffer the same fate.
I wouldn't even say IT managers, much as the rest of your statement is true.
He's talking about Security Managers who have somehow gotten lumped into IT. Probably because instead of focusing on where the real security problems are (users doing risky things) they try to buy an IT device to force the users to do what they don't want to pay to train them to do.
To my mind it all comes down to just one thing - trust. IT has a distrust of senior people in the business because when things go wrong IT gets the blame - first, foremost, and always. Business people have a distrust of IT because, and this is an unfortunate fact, there are far too many speed-bumps/road-blocks/whatever you what to call them working in IT. They are not necessarily the minority you would think but this comes about partly because of the trust issue - nobody is prepared to put their head above the parapet because they know they're there for the taking if something goes wrong.
The situation is almost comical given the utter reliance of each upon the other for their survival.
I work in IT (technically) but embedded in the business as a tactical developer (yep, one of those). My role is to get things done in a time-frame centralised IT just isn't going to manage and in a better way than the end user would. I get to see both sides of the coin - the frustration with half-arsed specifications on one side (I deal with them every day), and people than just won't get shit done on the other. Both need to smarten the fuck up. The business is generally getting better as more clued up senior guys come in knowing full well the bigger paydays are not going to happen without the tech. Problem is I don't see the bullshit management monkeys in IT thinning out at all - if anything it seems to be getting worse, they are breeding like civil servants. There are a few good guys on the ground and I generally know which ones to approach directly to get something done (my survival depends upon it) but they have a whole stack of bureaucratic carbon wastage floating above them trying to inhibit their every move. If IT wants a better rep then it starts there.
I was involved in reviewing and updating part of the platform security standards at a large UK bank, and I can tell you that the IT department are the police, not the legislators.
What happens is that a security policy is defined by either an IT security department, or by specialist consultants. This states things in very broad language, such as controlling user access and data flow between security zones. They don't specify technologies, protocols or methods.
The IT department gets this deliberately woolly and poorly defined policy (by definition, as it will be architecture independent), and then has to try and implement it.
Security people are all about saying no to things that they don't understand. The business people want to be able to do anything without restrictions. There is a natural and totally understandable conflict here.
The IT department has to work out what the business users really need, rather than what they want, and then convince the IT security people, who always have a veto that it is safe. This normally means that the IT architects are between an irresistible force and an immovable object. And always, one of the ends of the process think that the IT department have failed.
Having come up with a design that they have fought tooth and nail to be able to implement, and done so at the lowest cost possible, often in completely unreasonable timescales, the IT department then have to defend the decisions taken to the users, who very rarely have any thought about why security is there for anything other than stopping them doing their job.
Unfortunately, the group with the most influence are the people who feel that they earn the money for the company, even though they are the least qualified.
It's a no win situation.
To be fair the IT security section will just be implementing best practice, industry standards and the minimum levels neccessary to meet legislative requirements for PSN connections, PCI and the recommendations of the mandatory penetration tests.
They will not have much of a choice, only being able to advise what needs doing to meet a 3rd party requirement, the technical architects will often then be the ones coming up with the solution that everyone in IT hates to meet this.
With apologies to Tom Robbins, I've broken down the IT industry into two distinct groups, along the lines of behaviour.
1. Cowboys - Those generally found on the development side of the Dev/Ops divide. They work on a per-project basis, and tend to leave when their code gets to testing, if not before. Generally any risk may be swept under any number of convenient carpets. They are professional risk-takers, and attempt to create change (change creates new work, new work creates projects, projects create budgets). They have much in common with the head of sales, and tend to ensure that (as a group) they maintain close links to all of the major budget holders, preferably to the exclusion of the Ops part of the IT department.
2. Librarians - Those generally found on the operations side of the Dev/Ops divide. They tend to be aligned to a particular system, or layer of many, systems (depending on management preferences), and often live on the end of a trouble-ticket queue. They are professionally conservative, and attempt to stifle change (change creates risk, risk creates catastrophe, catastrophe creates long thankless nights of work).
There's a ncessary tension between these two camps, and I've been in both (as a long-time consultant/contractor, who cut their teeth in ops, flexibility pays).
FWIW, these days I tend to the cowboy's team (the pay's better), but I miss the highly skilled pros I got to work with among the librarians.
"I handed in my notice yesterday, one can only stay so long..."
I feel your pain. Mine would have been handed in yesterday, but the HR manager is off sick with stress (and may not be back). I'm off to see the HR at the other site tomorrow and they will have to accept it.
There simply comes a point where you have to ask if it staying is the right thing to do. When there is an overall morale problem, when different departments are constantly battling against each other and this is encouraged / tolerated by senior managers, then that is a company that I simply do not wish to work for.
to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Leaving a job before you have something else to go to is never a good idea; but I take pride in my work and I simply can no longer tolerate working in a place where the atmosphere is so appalling. I would not even want to tell people of where I have been working in case they think that I have had any hand in the sheer omnishambles that is the IT provision.
Back in my earlier years (i'm 30, but you know what I mean) working as an IT tech for a large logistics firm I was very nearly fired....
We had one of those, very familiar, "we need a new PC for someone, in 5 minutes!" situations. In the corner of the cupboard I called an office was an unused windows 95 PC that had developed a fault a while back. the fault was it was setup by previous staff and no one knew any passwords for it. It had ended up with us.
I did what any lazy (sorry efficient) engineer would have done. Flatten a machine that has nothing wrong with it? Nope. Bypassed and reset the admin password then just blew the profiles away and set the machine up correctly. Took no time at all and everyone was happy.
Some 5 weeks later I recieved a letter saying I was having a disciplinary meeting on X date, can have a representative etc etc. You know the drill. The reason given was "gross misconduct". not words you want to read as a 19 year old tech. 9 days of "enforced holiday" later and i'm in a meeting with the HR director and the IT director. My manager was my chosen representative.
For fifteen minutes they expressed their concern at me using (all quotes are direct) "illegal hacker tools" and "illegaly bypassing passwords" thus "putting company data at risk".
Turns out the previous holder of the role "IT manager" had told them that PC was unrecoverable. Turns out about 8 or 10 machines a year were "unrecoverable" werebeing disposed of personally by the old manager.
Anyway after fifteen minutes of this my manager asked me to leave the room. There were raised voices for a further fifteen minutes and that was the last I heard of it. I still have an excellent relationship with that manager to this day, we're in regular contact and are both self employed now.
Just a little, anecdotal, evidence of just how bad some people who rise to the position of IT manager and even IT director can be.
I was nearly fired for knowing how to get around a forgotten password in windows 95. If the previous manager hadn't lost his job through something unrelated to obvious incompetence and theft (he was fired for losing his driving license, not informing the company and continuing to drive a company car) then I've no doubt I would have lost my job for doing that.
The IT director, high ups in HR and everyone in the business needed to terminate my employment all actually thought i'd broken the LAW, never mind company policy. The one bloke who thankfully knew better was in my corner.
Spot-on with that, I think. There is too often a belief that the different departments must have a direct hierarchical relationship, whereas in fact they should be independent cooperating entities.
What is needed is a proper ICD to define the relationships. Is there such a thing as a Human Interface Architect?
I deal on a daily basis with many levels of IT, from SOHO to Education to Local government to Enterprise.
We sell and support MFDs and associated software, installing them on customer's networks.
There are wild variations in capability and attitude.
What is fairly evident is that usually, the bigger they get, the less flexible they get, to the point where they become an obstruction to the smooth functioning of the organisation.
Outsourced IT can be even worse, sometimes to the point where they refuse to accept direct communication of any sort with us, insisting it all has to go through the customer, with large additional charges for even minor work.
I've worked for vairous companies both large and small over the years. I've done the hands-on support through to the hands-off consutlancy and everything in between.
Luckily I have mostly worked for and with decent people and managers. Not always - I happened to spend some time at one company where the directors believed that the function of IT was to say that they can do anything but then deliver nothing. They completely missed that bit where there was no budget (ripped off software, anyone?) and that the very directors demanding changes to live systems would then shift the goalposts at random, often contradicting themselves and would blame IT when things inevitably went awry because they were experimenting on a live environment. The MD would do this and then tell his IT staff that they were lying about the shifting sands etc.
One notable thing there has always stuck in my mind - the ops director refusing to have the aircon fixed in the IT office where there were servers sitting due to no room in the server cupboard, but screaming at his team because they didn't stock batteries for the wireless mouse that he'd gone out and bought unbeknown to his IT team.
Now on the other side of that fence were the IT staff themselves, some of whom were indeed lazy and had got into the habit of just saying yes because it was easier, and then were happy to just put up with being shouted at because they'd missed a deadline or three.
Ok in that particular environment it was a case of two extremes but there was definitely an attitude that the IT department should be able to come up with new ideas to drive sales, new initiatives that would add value to the business and even should be able to design all of the artwork for a replacement web site. Yes, that they should be more business savvy. The point being of course, if they were more business savvy they'd probably not be working in IT to begin with.
And what happened the one time they came up with an initiative that generated more sales of add-on products? They had their bonuses capped because the directors didn't believe tha IT staff should be able to earn so much. Needless to say there was never any desire to repeat the initiative shown that time.
But I've worked with bosses who inately understand that generally, technical staff are best not being micromanaged and that can take a mature "as long as the work gets done on time and well" approach.
And the one thing I always look for when I want to recruit / promote to a consultant type role? Not the technical nounce - a techy is a techy is a techy at that level. No I'd like the people that can talk to others, that can give potential customers that warm and fuzzy feeling that their systems are in safe hands.
I want people that understand that the person is the key not the shiny box with it's new software.
I think too many tech guys just get blinded by the shiny for the sake of it, but hey - that's their job too, isn't it?
"getting a user to tell you what their job is so that you can design a system that helps them."
That's the way it (and IT) should be. A service to the business. In fact some readers may even remember when the managers of these teams had job titles like IS Managers. Does that still happen?
But in the climate where the IT people are little more than a helpdesk and an ill-informed interface between the business and Dell/EMC/Cisco/BT/etc (other COTS vendors are available), what do you recommend if the IT Department says "your business needs aren't addressable by our standard menu, go away, stuff the impact on the business" (marginally paraphrased)?
If the IT Director either doesn't know or doesn't care about the business need being impacted by his/her policies and activities, what then, for the people whose business needs are not being addressed by the IT people's offerings?
Which I guess is why Windows got so popular.
Lots of drama there. Although I'd like to think it's all gotten a lot less stressful.
Personally I found the iSeries the least prone to "drama," and knew of one guy who was fired because he appeared to do no housekeeping on it. This was a mistake. When it did finally choke on its own data (old system using intra file pointers embedded in the DB files. Yes it sounded horrific to me as well) he renegotiated his contract.
One suggestion for the blame game. Get the management requests in writing, and keep hard copies.
I've worked with management with the attention spans of goldfish. Sometimes they don't mean to contradict themselves, they just forgot the last thing they told you to do.
And that is why I love being a contractor.
No political games. I do my job, and I do it well, and I don't give a toss about whether 'the business' prevents me from doing it as well as I could, because I'm not going to be there in two years anyway.
I don't particularly care if someone I might see every other week waves hello, I'll see them a handful of times before I'm off to greener pastures.
When permies spend time doing their politicking and going up the ladder, I can spend my time learning something new and interesting.
Noone sees me as a threat to their 'progression', so no one tends to be wary of me from that perspective.
I don't need any 'thanks' or 'job well done' from anyone, my thanks is in my rather nice paycheck each month.
And those IT types that embody what I think of as 'the Bad Old days'? Long may they prosper, because they help make sure that I can grossly overcharge for what I do :-D
I'm a permie and have given up on the politics. If a decent contract comes along I might jump but at the moment I can sit back, get paid, have my health care and wait for my pension.
I went through the committed and enthusiastic stage, I even left my folks at a family celebration and went back to work once when there was a crisis saving the company a fortune in penalties and lost client confidence. There was not even a thank you card sent to me for that!
What I realised was my face didn't fit and I came to realise the members of certain cliques were promoted while I was undermined.
There is now somebody in charge of a team who support systems he has no training or experience on, he is however well versed in management bullshit and is often to be seen schmoozing the senior management team. It is clear in this business that being good at what you do gets you nowhere, we're just the nerds in the corner, it's who you butter up that matters.
My response now to a crisis is don't bother calling me, I won't be there. I now have time for my family, hobbies and friends. There is less cash floating round, but now I'm happier. More of us need to do this and make the bean counters realise where the skills reside and the danger of pissing off your most experienced staff.
Posting anonymously coz I'm pissed off but still have a mortgage.
A place I used to work had essentially 3 areas of IT - Helpdesk, Infrastructure and Developers.
Helpdesk seemed to spend a huge amount of time dealing with inane user requests (My mouse doesn't work! - might that be because the ball is so coated in gunk that it won't turn any more / the buttons are glued down with spilled sugary coffee?), Infrastructure had a defined role of ensuring the servers (iSeries & Windows) were as close to 100% available as possible, which was translated into "No changes must happen!" and the Devs who were trying to build new systems from user specs along the lines of "It would be nice if the system could do 'X'.
I had the joy of working in a couple of those areas during my time there and the Devs generally saw Infrastructure as the people who tried their hardest to stop the Devs from doing their jobs. Infrastructure saw the Devs as a bunch of dangerous individuals who were clearly intent on taking down the company systems at every possible opportunity, and they both saw helpdesk as a collection of barely competent monkeys who had difficulty sorting out the most basic issues and who would fail to gather even the most rudimentary information before promoting a support request to one or other of them, all in an effort to meet some spurious management kpi about time spent resolving queries.
It definitely seemed that sometimes what they all forgot was that they were there to try and ensure the users could do their job with as little hassle and effort as possible, as that was what brought the money through the door!
Although I still don't understand why the infrastructure guys were always the ones with the newest, shiniest computers to just run a terminal emulator, system status monitor software and an email client, whilst the developers tried to use 5 year old, underpowered desktops to run full IDEs, multiple local development VM instances and more, alongside the terminal emulators and email client. Well, I do understand it - they were the ones in control of the procurement budget...
> It definitely seemed that sometimes what they all forgot was that they were there to try and ensure the users could do their job with as little hassle and effort as possible, as that was what brought the money through the door!
That is the single biggest problem with IT in my experience (and, to be fair, with a whole load of other departments and sectors too). IT people basically work in customer service, but half of them refuse to admit it and the other half think that their customers are the users in other departments. The former are just plain obstructive. The latter think that they have successfully provided a service to their customer when they complete the PC upgrade or software installation or whatever, and that it's therefore OK to take two weeks to do it (hey, two weeks from inital request to completion is pretty good for a large firm, right?), when in fact the completion of the task marks the point at which the company can start to serve their real customer, making two weeks an absolutely appalling delay.
I find the worst IT departments are the ones that serve IT departments. I've had arguments on the phone with these twonks, explaining to them that my (and their) employer has hired a new employee, is paying the new employee, and that the new employee can do literally nothing until they have a machine and account, and that our employer is therefore simply flushing money down the toilet until the machine and account are set up. Even when it's explained to them, they just don't even understand the problem.
(I hasten to add, for the benefit of any powers that be that might be reading, that this was with a previous employer. My current lot are just absolutely fantastic. At everything.)
Ah I see you are referring to the departments that look on SLAs as a rough target rather than the absolute maximum time anything should take. "What do you mean, 4 days is too slow to do a password reset - the SLA is 5 days for non business critical tasks so you're lucky you had the reset done early".
And I have been on the receiving end of that phone call, explaining that we don’t just have a row of computers/laptops ready to go off the shelf to fill every need at a moment’s notice, that there is some work involved and it would be nice if, you know, someone told us this was going to happen and gave us a bit of notice so we could have had one waiting for them on day 1 (and no, 5:30pm on Friday to be done by Monday morning doesn’t count, while we do work weekends it’s the things we can’t do during the week, rather than the things you have known about for a number of weeks/months but just not told us yet) but as always IT seem to be the last to be informed that there will be a need for their service
On the other hand, I've been copied in on the email that informs IT support that a new staff member is starting on a given date (2 weeks away) with the form filled in correctly defining the exact requirements e.g. yes they need MS Project & Visio, no they don't need full developer tools.
IT Support then chased with 1 week to go, and a courtesy call given the Thursday before (Monday start date). New starter turns up on Monday - no laptop, not even an account set up or email so they can use the emergency desktop. On Wednesday a clapped out excuse for a luggable turns up with Word, Excel & that's it, and the account is set up with access to NONE of the drives & parts of sharepoint specified in the spec sent 2.5 weeks previously. It then takes another week to get them set up on the relevant drives etc. They can't have MS Project & Visio installed, because the clapped out luggable can't take the pressure & dies when they try.
It took 3 MONTHS from a new project manager starting before he had useable kit, the software he needed & access to everywhere he needed.
I bet if you were to ask any of the people responsible for the three-month delay, they'd all moan about bloody users' unreasonable demands and how it was all the fault of the person who made the request and how bloody hard-done-by they all are, the poor wee lambs. You wouldn't be able to find anyone in that department who thought that the real problem was the fact that someone couldn't do their work for three months -- because if anyone in the department thought that way, there wouldn't have been a three-month delay. The siege mentality kills IT's reputation, and then it's those with the siege mentality who complain that they don't get enough respect.
One question for you:
Did you FUCKING notify the Service Desk you were hiring a new employee before reaming them out on the phone? And no I don't mean the email you sent 5 FUCKING minutes before you called to ream them out for not having the PC ready.
Because if I had a nickel for every time some jackass from management bitched about not having a PC ready for a new employee because nobody FUCKING bothered to tell us, or worse, listen to us when we told them we were all out of hardware and someone was going to have to open their FUCKING wallet to buy some, I'd be happily retired at the beach right now.
Yes, this is a pet peeve guaranteed to set me off. I once had less than 2 hours to setup a new pc from spare parts in the closet for an incoming VP. Like nobody knew they were looking for a new VP. Some guy just walked in off the street and they hired him for it. No FUCKING way.
Actually, I was talking about chasing the request up for the third or fourth time, three or four weeks after the request was approved; I was talking about virtual PCs, not actual boxes, which this company did actually have ready to go off the virtual shelf and which I knew from experience could set up overnight when they felt like it; I certainly never reamed anyone out on the phone -- it is possible to have these conversations in a calm and civilised way, believe it or not; and I wasn't in management. Apart from that, you're spot on.
I was just trying to get work done and to convey to the IT department the urgency of a job that they clearly felt didn't matter. And, as I said, I was in IT: I find IT departments in general to be full of helpful people -- I've just finished a contract in one where the entire corporate ethos was explicitly "IT are here to help. What do you need?" -- but the IT departments who serve IT departments are, in my experience, always full of sullen obstructive bastards whose response to a simple requestis never ever to just bloody do it.
Crappy notification procedures are a pet peeve of mine too. I once worked for a firm where IT were routinely the last to know despite the fact that the whole place ran on IT. After I and my colleagues stayed late one night to set up an entire floor of a building with PCs and phones and networking after just one day's notice, I was put in charge of liasing between operations management and IT to build and implement a new notification system that pushed the onus for managing workload onto ops, in return for which IT guaranteed to hit certain SLAs. I did, and it worked very well, completely wiping out just the kind of logistical fuckups you hate. But hey, keep blaming me for them.
In the 90/00s we in IT were seen as a cost, an unnecessary budget burden and in many ways we were. We had poor products that didn't scale across very large organisations. Through as series of acquisitions and mergers many IT systems were brought under one roof and we had the whole "Legacy systems" issue and systems not talking to each other. One by one, bright sparks decided to "buy a new IT system" and various IT companies made a lot of money without delivering a system that the people who create revenue for the companies could actually use.
We were then seen as an even more expensive department that was delivering even less products. Along came the raft of outsourcing and the opportunity to listen to the salesmen and slash budgets, the link between business and IT was further broken.
Next we hit the massive growth in consumer IT, suddenly people not only expected corporate IT to work as well as their mini network at home did but also give them the same flexibility as their home network, despite home and corporate being two different beasts.
IT still have poor products to work with and on reduced budgets. Roll out 8000s machines, with different application portfolios, different access rights, hot desking, legacy systems, security, lack of management buy-in, dumb decisions, crazy policies.....
We are still delivering poor products as our goalposts change with each management whim, we want flexibility, security, availability, redundancy and we want it cheap. Now we're into cloud, BYOD and I want my iPad to print to that printer and use it as a full on workstation.
As IT we need to align with our users to deliver services that they need. When we are seen as delivering value we will stop being seen as a cost and barriers to change.
IT people, even the service desk grunts like me, got into IT work because we like solving problems but don't necessarily like or are good at interfacing with other people. So if your IT department isn't solving problems for you, it ain't the techs. It's either upper management or the bean counters.
I.T. is seen as an insurance policy by those in upper management (and one they want to pay as Little as possible for)
and those who I.T. have to serve, they are envisioned as the guardian of the gates to computer paradise.
You just can't win !
there's no budget for remote security means that the end users get told "No Remote Access!"
I.T. are just middlemen passing the bad message that magament don't have the comprehension for.
viewed from all angles as worse than salesmen
".....without defined leaders or a defined order of precedence should requirements or deadlines conflict... "
isn't that non-traditional. It traditionally comes up every decade, fails completely, loses lots of money, causes great embarassment and an agreement by all involved never to mention it again - which, I suppose, is why every time it gets reinvented people think it's a revolutionary/waycool/hip/funky/baaaaaad way to go maaaaan and set off down the road to oblivion while all those who were involved last time round keep quiet and do a bit of shorting.
There are a couple of special cases in which they do work. The problem is that even in those special cases there is a management structure, just not the ones we traditionally recognize. Where they can work is on smallish teams where the lead shifts rapidly to whoever is the expert in the specific subject matter being discussed. It does require that the rest of the team recognizes the current lead as the expert in the specific subject matter. They are frequently the only way to realize solutions to previously unsolved problems. They are also very, very rare. And any attempts to duplicate their success in structures which don't meet those requirements are doomed to spectacular failure.
I think you made some excellent points there.
Yes, there are negative IT admins who have a deep hatred for doing things or talking with their mouth to other non IT mouth breathers. But Ive met very few admins like that and never worked for a company that had a tired, exhausted and wasteful described by the coward in the blog.
Generally people in the company assume that if things are working, then you are not. The very idea that you need to surf the web to keep up to date to some people, yet think that a marketing employee surfing facebook all day doing their job is some how different.
I get least respect/attention when: everything runs smooth im working to keep it that way, looking to make improvements in costs, equipment and general service.
I get moaned/shouted at when: things have gone wrong, some kit has hit the end of its life or some software breaks, perhaps just the internet or wifi is down.
I get praised (for about an hour): when the problem is fixed.
This cycle then repeats, notice the praise side of things is extremely tiny and im either hated for interrupting the company's work or held in contempt by the staff for being a lazy "what PC" reader thinking that i get paid to do nothing. Thats a lot of general negativity - Doesnt take Albert Einstein to notice after a short while.
I work for UK Government, I wont go into details but we are mid-sized and recently went through a merger of about 7 separate entities with 7 different IT depts. Anyway I have found that the big differences in IT attitudes directly correlate with not the IT staff themselves but the business culture set by the rest of the company. Its very easy for people to get sucked into a way of working and then not realize or find it hard to break the bad habits.
IT training budget: Spent by Finance to train their staff on how to use Powerpoint.
IT procurements budget: Spent by Finance so they all got nice new laptops, desktops, 22" wide screen monitors (2 each), their own servers and switches, and a contractor to come in and wire it all up with CAT6.
IT cost savings: Made by reducing staff as our budget was spent before we got it.
It took years to put a stop to that, but even now we come across some odd discrepancies in equipment orders, or training costs assigned to our budget from other departments...
In my company at least.
My manager and Director are boots on the ground involved and exceptionally skilled at IT, I do not think there is a certification my manager has not already obtained or is not in the process of obtaining, and this is backed up by a good history of IT support.
</brown nose> :D
However, higher than director (we recently gained a new VP) the case is the opposite, The phrase, "total mucking foron" springs to mind...
There is however still a disconnect, not for what users want or need, but an apathy a passive aggressive stance we need to take for everything.
Dev sh1tcans a deployment, we get the blame, because once it is compiled and in production it is now an IT problem not a dev problem... they will fix the bugs, but we are the ones that get the hit on downtime, because you know we should have known or something.
What was said in the piece was true, when things go right and smooth and nothing is busted, IT groups are generally ignored (or worse seen as too much of a cost drain on the company...candidates for an outsource) but when the smallest thing goes wrong, (it does not matter if $deity himself materialized in the server room and started changing servers into kittens and rabbits.. then walked round the building randomly freeing data from hard drives like some PETA enthusiast at a research clinic, only after making the entire backup system a rather confused but happy and flatulent goat.) we are exactly the first people to feel the chill of saurons eye.
This is not the worst of it, people see us,( not because many of us want to be) as "gruff" generally because we want to help, but we cannot help because of some directive laid down somewhere, or simply the fact that we too have to deal with the same systems and software you do, it is not as if we go round purposefully making these things break!
I only found out my position had been deleted two days ago halfway through rebuilding a roll-out installation today when my logon stopped working. I had to check with a colleague and verbally document where I'd got up to so he could finish everything off instead of chucking away half a days work and starting again.
Middle managers are there not to fulfil the needs of the company, or the needs of their staff, but to tick off 'career successes' and avoid failures at all costs (or select suitable scapegoats first) and both the staff that work for them and the company that employs them are in the end mere objects of necessary sacrifice in that chosen career path.
What counts for them, is size of their annual budget, which is a penis substitute, people who report to them, which is a relationship substitute, and final salary, which is an feeling of achievement substitute.
Whether their solutions work or not, is only relevant insofar as they can be claimed to be successful on the CV for the next job screwing up the next company.
One you understand that, managing your manager is simply an exercise in reading Dilbert.
The worst thing you can do is give a manager a budget: as FD/TD you must always say 'tell me what you plan to do, how it will positively impact the company's performance, and come back with detailed costs and breakdowns and a project plan. If that stacks up and shows overall benefit, you get the budget, if it doesn't, you are probably fired, or at best reduced to supporting what we have already.'
It may seem that way, and it did use to to me, but only until you work somewhere with no middle management. Middle management's real function is to provide an insulating layer between top brass and the low-level grunts, and -- trust me on this -- you WANT that insulating layer. The alternative is unspeakably bad.
" Middle management's real function is to provide an insulating layer between top brass and the low-level grunts, and -- trust me on this -- you WANT that insulating layer. The alternative is unspeakably bad."
That's one interpretation. Other options may be available.
E.g. Occasionally, it would be good for "senior management" to actually know what's going on at the sharp end, rather than what "senior management" are told by their direct reports.
A bit like the "management by wandering around" which Hewlett Packard (long before HP and Agilent) used to have.
If the middle management know that the top management are regularly out and about talking direct to "the grunts", it gives "middle management" an incentive to not lie in either direction.
Middle management being economical with the truth in one or both directions seems to be sadly commonplace. Not universal, but commonplace. Still, I suppose it's what they're paid for.
"... But I want to leave you with one final thought: in our personal lives, geeks are traditionally regarded as fiercely loyal...
....IT folks simultaneously have a reputation for job-hopping - something about the two stereotypes just doesn't parse..."
I don't know about others, but it seems that we're fiercly loyal, _to those that we fell deserve it_.
I worked for a multinational where the CEO of the IT section decided to hold informal coffee mornings with groups of employees, and where middle managers were banned. After the third meeting, he discovered most of what his middle managers were telling him was either extremely out of date or bald-faced lies. Cue a "cleanup of the communication lines" toot-sweet.
For a while I worked at a company which was a specialist subsidiary of a global conglomerate.
The CEO of the sub had arrived relatively recently. He seemed a decent chap, he was visible around the place and he'd even say hello if you walked past him in a corridor or car park.
More importantly, he had a form of "management by wandering around". He'd spend a reasonable amount of his time with the people at the sharp end, a sample of who would be asked to give (along with their direct managers) the CEO an upate on what had happened in their department in the last quarter and what might happen in the next one. Occasionally the CEO would even ask about the three year vision thing.
"most of what his middle managers were telling him was either extremely out of date or bald-faced lies"
"Cue a "cleanup of the communication lines" toot-sweet."
Unfortunately what happened at this place was that the decent CEO realised he'd inherited a poisoned chalice which could probably never be made to work effectively, whatever the books might say. So he moved to a different subsidiary of the conglomerate, leaving the folks at the sharp end of his previous empire somewhat regretting his departure, and behind him an invisible CEO who seemingly learned his industrial relations skills back in the 1980s.
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