Here’s a roundup of user e-mail we received in response to our Quick Poll, “What’s the biggest obstacle you face in performing your IT job?” (You can read the poll results here .) The poll ran Aug. 6 to 12.
IT management decisions and bosses were the two obstacles that compelled the most users to respond to our poll. Outsourcing IT and placing training on hold until after Y2K also made IT staffers fume with frustration.
- One user wrote, “I am currently contracting to an organization that has just sold off the ‘IT slaves’ to EDS as part of an effort to drive costs down. Driven by ’bean counters’ to justify the return on investment, the move is a good call in a business sense—however, I think slashing the training budget to free up other areas is crass.
“Train us to do our best for the client who, after all, pays the bills—or am I talking to the converted?”
- Another user felt the biggest problem “is the boss' lack of technical understanding, which limits his/her ability to understand the ’excessive’ amounts of dollars and time required to get jobs done, such as training, equipment, staffing, and services.”
- Then there was the argument that those in management “do not have a clue about the technology that they work with every day. I guarantee you that most managers cannot define the greatest difference between Windows NT and Windows 95. The answer is one word—security.”
- This correspondent was sympathetic to the need to consider the bottom line but felt that it hurt the department in the long run. “The boss in our industry tends to be very price-focused when it comes to reviewing the needs of the IT department. This is as it should be, since computer technology related costs tend to rank in the ‘top 10’ on the business expense list. However, this makes the boss think twice about providing additional resources like ‘extra’ personnel and training, budget increases, and often these things are not provided based on the ‘if it ain't broke, don't fix it’ principle.
“I have noticed that our departments tend to be populated by technicians, who stay with their own group. This is just a circumstance of the industry we work in, but it removes us from ‘the loop.’ When other departments are screaming their heads off about their needs (marketing is a good example), we are more likely to just submit an e-mail or two and leave it at that. After all, who in our field has more than a few minutes of uninterrupted time to spend justifying the need for more money?’
- Finally, outsourcing held back one user. “The last straw was being outsourced along with the same management team that originally agreed that outsourcing was the best move (they were all hoping that by agreeing, their jobs would be spared).
“The bottom line is that I have lost two years of advancement in technology due to the fact that the company held off on all training because of the outsourcing and held off on all IT-related activity until after the year 2000.
“Two years in this business is the equivalent of 10 years in other established segments of business. I lost those two years because IT management couldn’t deliver or communicate with the business they supported.
“The new outsourcer now has to pick up the pieces, by bringing in new personnel with the current skill sets that were denied to the original personnel.”
Thanks to all the users who posted, whether we used your comments or not.
Here are some TechRepublic articles to help climb over your IT obstacles.
- In IT, it's OK tobe soft
Even more than technical knowledge, the ability to handle people will put your IT career in overdrive. Mike Jackman gives you some expert advice from two pros.
- How do you deal with a nontechnical boss?
If your boss is, uh, less than technically competent, Scott Render has some pointers for you.
- Explaining to your boss why you need money for training
What good is a computer system if your people don't know how to use it? Matthew Mercurio shares his experience and tips on begging for training dollars.