Emerging Tech

Sanity check: Five MORE things that suck about working in IT

I recently gave my list of the unique challenges that come with working in IT. TechRepublic members responded with a few items that should be added to the list. So, by popular demand, here are five more.

I recently gave my list of the unique challenges that come with working in IT. TechRepublic members responded with a few items that should be added to the list. So, by popular demand, here are five more.

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When I wrote Five things that suck about working in IT a couple weeks ago, members of the TechRepublic audience were kind enough to point out that I missed a few items that should definitely be on the list. As a result, I decided to take the best responses from the community and use them to beef up the list with five more things.

5. There's often a bad inheritance

This item comes courtesy of TechRepublic member ken.mccrohan of Virginia. He described it as "Previous CIO/Net Admin/Developer chose a vendor [or] spec'd a system [or] wrote some code, then leaves, and you are tasked with fixing their mess or worse, explaining their choices." This is so common it's practically a cliche.

I know lots of IT pros who have been faced with cleaning up a bad situation left by a predecessor. Sometimes it's just a matter of the new techie having a different approach than the old new. Other times it can be a situation where the previous techie was disgruntled or disengaged and didn't perform very well in the final months before leaving the company. And sometimes, there's a reason why the previous IT manager is no longer with the company, and cleanup is simply part of your mandate.

4.You have to repeatedly prove yourself

You can say this about a lot of jobs, but the situation is especially acute in IT because IT usually involves keeping systems up and running 24/7/365 as well as a lot of project work. Member Locrian_Lyric stated, "You are only as good as your last project. As soon as that's done, you have to prove your worth all over again, if not constantly." He also added, "Your value lasts only as long as the current management. If there is a new CIO, CTO, or other higher up with a 'new vision' update your resume, you are going to need it."

3. You can work yourself out of a job

Since IT is primarily about streamlining business processes, if you do it well enough by implementing and developing the right technologies then you can eventually decrease the headcount of the IT department -- and sometimes even make your own job obsolete. The problem is that some IT managers realize this and so they make decisions based on their own self-preservation rather than what's good for the business. However, the best IT managers will always do what's best for the business, even if it makes their own job obsolete. They know that producing great results will help redefine their role in the company or provide a strong resume-booster to land another job, if needed.

Another similar challenge is when the IT department is so good and so well organized that the company's IT infrastructure runs smoothly and people in the company start to wonder if it could run itself and they question whether they really need so many IT pros to run it.

Along those lines, member langbobr wrote, "It has always seemed to me that if you (as an IT professional) are doing the job right... nobody even knows what you do. If everything [in] IT is working, people wonder why you're there."

Member talawrence added, "I've worked for places that think you don't do anything because nothing ever breaks. They do not understand all the good work being done to prevent meltdowns. I get frustrated when people also refer to the Y2K problem as over hyped. I know I worked many 18 hour days leading up to Y2K."

2. It's tough to find good help

If you're a CIO or an IT leader, the most challenging part of running an IT department is finding good people to hire. Some IT folks scoff at this idea because there have been plenty of IT pros laid off since 2001 and so there are still unemployed IT workers looking for new jobs. Nevertheless, we repeatedly hear from IT leaders and their recruiters that they have a very difficult time finding IT workers to meet their requirements.

TechRepublic member Michelle wrote: "It's been a challenge to find great IT people who are easy to work with, don't have an ego the size of our mother earth, can read & follow instructions, & can communicate well via e-mail & IM."

One CTO in the San Francisco Bay Area recently told me that he can easily find mediocre developers but it's tough to find really good ones. And, he noted, "One good developer is worth as much as three mediocre developers." That's because the good ones know how to get things done while the mediocre ones require a lot of management, hand-holding, and code-fixing.

1. Users confuse IT with magic

TechRepublic member Eric from Colorado pointed to the problem of "Wildly unreasonable expectations, i.e. IT=magic." He wrote, "Non-technical end users think you are a graduate of Hogwarts instead of some place in the real world. Typical end-user expectation: 'I would like access to the last 10 years of my email, with all attachments, instantly searchable and with no performance lag - and I expect you to make this happen on my Pentium II... Anything less means you're an utter incompetent.'"

Member msims added, "Users tend to ... see the department as just one big computer system and forget that there are human beings who work there day and night weekends and on call who only have one head, two hands and two legs who can only do as much as they can."

Flip side

Member MavMin2 advised IT professionals not to get too caught up in the things that make it tough to work in IT. He said, "When all else fails, say [to yourself], 'It beats unemployment and soup lines.'" He also added, "In the military we had a saying that a griping soldier was a happy soldier and there are a lot of happy soldiers on [TechRepublic]."

See also: Five things that make it great to work in IT

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

97 comments
jkameleon
jkameleon

... profit margins and budgets start shrinking, while demands are rising. Then the requirements IT workers have to meet become as follows: Young, experienced, geekishly enthusiastic, mature, business savvy, highly specialized in a wide range of IT skills, willing to multitask in all of them simultaneously 80 hours a week, be happy and positive about it, and able to demonstrate all that during the job interview. When people with the said characteristics fail to apply in sufficient numbers, business community starts lamenting about skill shortages, as well as blaming universities and today's youth for it. The same thing happened around 1999 http://www.businessweek.com/1997/29/b3536106.htm This one is even more entertaining. http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&taxonomyName=enterprise_applications&articleId=44589&taxonomyId=87&intsrc=kc_feat I'm not sure whether link will work, it looks like it remained on Computerworld by mistake. Try googling "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?" "Any true IT superstar." if it doesn't work.

glehr
glehr

The more I see managers posting the impossible job qualifications, the more I understand why people in this industry lie on their resume. Worse part is that the managers know that a good person is worth the weight of three mediocre people. However, they still want to pay for the one mediocre person. When are managers going to figure out that the best person for the job probably won't even look your way because you are offering the industry standard... which is in the middle , or mediocre, pay range. Better known as you get what you pay for.

m761334
m761334

The employer expectations of a programmer now, are insane. I started as a programmer. Now my role encompasses programmer/systems analyst/project manager/architect/DBA/trainer/presenter... and I am expected to know a lot about networks. As an example, my first job ever was coding COBOL updating an existing student tracking system, last year, I had to define hardware requirements for a server, load the OS, install, configure TOMCAT, Postgres, JDK and Ant, load and configure the applicaiton package, investigate, install and debug addons, setup the cron jobs, backup/recovery and test out the procedures, there was also internet proxies to configure, security too, document everything, run training courses to train the users and lastly I had to present at conferences. All for peanuts and all to of being done yesterday

asistemas
asistemas

Really, the IT=Magic problem is a constant in this world, also the end users expect us to apply that "magic" to fix their mistakes, like "I was asked if I wanted to save the file and I chosed "no". Can you recover my file?" or "I don't know I was just fooling around when the PC got out all of a sudden. Can you repair it in the next hour?" Damn end users!.

Senrats
Senrats

In #2: "we repeatedly hear from IT leaders and their recruiters that they have a very difficult time finding IT workers to meet THEIR requirements." I think "THEIR" requirements are sometimes the issue. I have seen a lot of companys that want an experienced MCSE, CCNA,... and expect to pay them $12 an hour. You get what you pay for.

elgenubi
elgenubi

I remember a few years ago having seen a requirement for an IT specialist with 5 years of experience on a product wich have been on the market for 2 years...

glehr
glehr

To give an example of what managers are doing. We just lost our data center manager because we did our job to well. So managment said, with the tickets for troubles we see, you can do the job with even less staff. That is were we failed our boss, we were proactively monitoring the network , and caught troubles before they were customer affecting. Now managment has come up with the requirements for his replacements based on what he did , plus the added value of someone who can do it on an international scale an 20 data centers added to the belt. Of course they still want to pay the old wage for someone to go from 3 to 20, domestic to include international. No wonder he called it quits.

DaemonSlayer
DaemonSlayer

Yeppers, THEIR requirements can be out there... right up into unreasonable time-tables. Wanting jobs done faster than possible for the price-point/experience they can hire someone at. (unless you are outside the U.S.) You do get what you pay for... and you also set yourself up NOT to find good help by either intentional exageration of the requirements, or even the uneducated expectation of the "miracle worker" at what you are willing to pay. It even made YouTube a while back about some firms that helped big corporates set up ads with job requirements that NOBODY could conceivably meet, just to support getting non-american workers. Take your pick: ignorance, bad advice, dirty politics, ECBC and the love of money, or just plain wanting something for nothing. Corporations are shooting themselves in the foot and are too blind to see it until they file bankruptcy.

Mark VII
Mark VII

>>Corporations are shooting themselves in the foot and are too blind to see it until they file bankruptcy.

3_jeeps
3_jeeps

The 'manager' that laments about 'good help' is usually the most clueless with unreasonable expectations. Too many pointy haired types running around. The only good news is that when they run the company into the ground, they are on the street...Hmmm maybe that is why they have to have big salaries to carry them from job to job...lol. I've seen it happen 2x's.

ID.10.T
ID.10.T

It really sucks that IT can't issue ID.10.T citations! :) And program those citations to ding the users performance reviews after they accumulate (X) number of them. Kind of like how the DMV point system and your insurance rates work. :) HA ha. Just having some fun thoughts. :)

Fairbs
Fairbs

I think a similar more subtle way is to charge back departments for IT support. If the charge backs are high, then the manager would want to know who was asking for all of the support and then know they may be having problems doing their job. Another idea I've had is to identify and promote power users in a company. For example, find some people who are good in Excel, Word, ... and advertise their services (if willing and allowed by manager). This would increase individuals skill levels, productivity, decrease IT support requests, and as a side effect increase communication levels across departments.

trambo
trambo

This is simply brilliant and would go a long way toward disciplining the computer incompetents. Two problems: 1.Vindictive IT personnel or highly subjective application of citations. 2.The poor end-user that really just needs some training and has the potential to be a "good" end-user. Work these out and sell it to management. For many jobs these days, this would be a critical measure of suitability for a computer-intensive job and a fine metric for performance. Unfortunately, this would not endear IT to anyone and would most certainly create further alienation of end users.

g01d4
g01d4

I'll not forget an ad from the '80s in one of those large format trade magazines. On one page it had something like "Your manager says, 'Gee it'd be nice if we had a network connection to St. Louis'" (lots of white space on the page). The next page had "Your reply" and an elaborate network diagram. I'd wager there're more IT (and other technical) workers who could more easily perform their PHB's job than the other way round. Yet they're often perked more and still complain.

wanttocancel
wanttocancel

I just got a new job in IT so I'm not going to gripe. I was unemployed for a little over 3 months so I'm happy.

jrodgold
jrodgold

You'll become one of us. Some people would call it 'jaded', but those are only the inexperienced.

Daniel_J-22521388082541631442670333001745
Daniel_J-22521388082541631442670333001745

I like this very much, but I could'nt disagree more with #2. The reality is there is no such thing as a mediocre developer. There are junior developers, and lead developers, all with a varying degree of experience. The real challenge is finding a business group that understands the true cost of developing a project, and hires the right team to support the project instead of dumping it all on the developer to save a buck. To explain my point, here are some examples of jobs that developers are often tasked to do that have nothing to do with what they are actually being paid to do: Graphic design. Layouts, buttons, headers, and logos are all elements of graphic design, and should be handled by a graphic designer. Business and System Analysis. All of the documentation prior to the system design should be handled by a Business Analyst or at least someone who has a stake in the cost and scope of the project at hand. System Design. Although in many cases System Architects were once developers, very few developers are qualified Systems Architects. In fact, its rare to find a Systems Architect who will also willingly write the code. Project Management. Asking a developer to wear this hat is a one way ticket to frustration. Even when you find a developer who has good project management experience, there simply isn't the time to do both jobs effectively. QA & Testing. I challenge you to paint a painting, one that you pour yourself into, and then step back and find the flaws. Even tenured developers are guilty of overlooking flaws during the initial development process every once and awhile. The fact is if they knew about the flaw, they would have already fixed it. The developer who writes the application should never, never, never be tasked with QA unless your goal is to pass this burden on to your customer. Training. It is rare to find developers that communicate as effectively as they code, and rightfully so. Writing code can be a maddening experience. Fail to properly train the application, and organizational acceptance will suffer. Who's fault is that? Not the developer. Its important to note that none of the job responsibilites listed above have anything to do with writing code. So when we as a community make statements like "It's hard to find good help," I think it is equally important to ask ourselves "Are we setting our developers up to fail either out of ignorance, or pressure to hire frugally?" I watch this happen over and over again in big and small business. I do my best not repeat these mistake when I hire, which seems to make it easier to find talent when I need it.

wiggledbits
wiggledbits

Hmmm I'm at the point of debating about joining the soup line. IT is difficult enough most of the time. Demands during off hours, unrealistic user expectations of software and hardware, small or no budgets, lack of respect from management... When you add to the mix your IT coworkers lacking communication, zero documentation, no processes or procedures, no standardization, a disregard for basic security, little to no and the ever present whole earth ego planning makes for a mix where I think it might be better to hit the bricks. A lot of what I have experienced in my 4 years in IT is lack of planning and organization. I came from a manufacturing background in scheduling, project and materials management and know the value of plan, adjust, and replan. I also learned that managing people and projects require communication. I could go on and on about this. I hope it isn't this way in all places because it is getting disheartening. I forgot to mention a disregard for software licensing!

portable
portable

This is so true. I was hired as Director of IT at a school district, and was budgeted for one staff person. The district had 1800+ computers in 35 buildings. When I presented my case for more staff (I asked for two more) I was questioned about what they would do. I started with "fix the computers that need it first". Then came the question that floored me. "Once we have all the computers fixed what will they have to do? We can't afford to have people sitting around doing noting." The thought crossed my mind "What about the board?" but I was smart enough to not say that.

agcw86
agcw86

Here is #6: Techs are promoted to IT management (not necessarily good ones), where they not only meet their level of incompetence (Peter Principal), forget what it was like to be a technician, or amplify their lack of usefulness . Worse yet, some hold on to the technical, and only manage to be neither technical nor managerial meddlers.

TheDumpster
TheDumpster

On the other hand, when you think about it, it is a tough business, but you are never bored. Your curiosity never stagnates. What's the recent line from Capitol Hill? If you can't take the heat, go sell shoes. I am also struck by the observation that a lot of the technical problems, and even many of the customer gripes, are caused by incompetent IT folks who got into the business for the bucks, but really are just IT installers, not real IT techies. I also observe that a big part of that problem arises from employers who don't want to pay good salaries for IT talent, but rather just look to hire anyone with IT in their resume for the lowest salary for key IT positions. You get what you pay for, and good IT people will gravitate to where they are valued. Companies that hire mediocre or unqualified people, will lose any new talent because they will tire of fighting the messed-up legacy they inherit, and company cultures that fail to recognize how intrinsic IT has become to their business efficiencies. It peopel are a resource, and it is a market economy. You get what you pay for, and your operation is only as good as the attention you put on keeping the machinary working. Just my $0.02 worth, plus, maybe, a few cents more.

erikw
erikw

In response to the flip side comment. Wow, could you state anything more obvious. I am lucky. I have a job that I am not appreciated for doing. Saying "be happy you have job" is a big cop out.

ljansch
ljansch

You left out Business Continuity, the Rodney Dangerfield of IT. We're often regarded as irritating insurance salesman/funeral director hybrids, always carping about The One Bad Thing that never seems to happen. All it takes is one Category 5 hurricane or a 6.5 Richter scale rattle and suddenly we're valued employees again.

greg.hruby
greg.hruby

1) It is inevitable that the time it takes to approve a new IT project Standard, encumber funds and gain management support for deployment will ALWAYS exceed the time it takes for a new version/variant of a technology to evolve. 2) It is always true that once management has approved a deployment - they want it to occur ONLY under the latest ( unbenchmarked, untested, potentially un-integratable ) technology on the market that the vendor's SALES STAFF presents. 3) Sales people have never solved installation problems in a companies unique software, hardware, technology and staff capability environment. But they're willing to give it a try .....

glgruver
glgruver

We are still trying to dig ourselves out of one such project that after 3 years of "debugging", still does not work nearly as well as it's predecessor. If it worked as well as the sales presentations and product demos led us to believe, it would have been great. Every time we ask what the problems are, the response is as you stated, they blame it on hardware or software incompatibilities.

ancientprogrammer
ancientprogrammer

They want that 'good' developer to also work 80+/hrs a week, have no family commitments, opt out of company health insurance and do all this for $40K a year.

reisen55
reisen55

Just not local. Search " Bangalore " And you find lots of "cheap help" Oh, if quality is what you want, well you're not going to get that little additional benefit. But I did not define "cheap quality help." After all, isn't IT in the mindset of American management JUST A COMMODITY ITEM FOLKS????

snideley59
snideley59

We all yap about how expensive it is. Until we pick up the phone and get no dial tone. IT is the same way. As long as all is working well, they question our existence. When nothing is working, we're expected to drop all that's important in our lives to get stuff back on line so they can once again question our existence...ad infinitum

SkyWlf77
SkyWlf77

It's out there. I'm one of them. Luckily, I live in a very small town and one of the local businesses gave me a chance. That never would have happened in most other places. Why? Because I don't have any certifications and I never completed college, either. I was brought in as an IT Technician on the hardware side of the equation a year and a half ago. In record time, I made IT Manager because I proved myself to my employer. I learned all of our software and learned how to edit the code to make it easier for the keyers to use (we are a Data Processing Facility). I rebuilt all of our servers from the ground up to make them more efficient and increase our capacity. Do I have gripes? Yes. The previous IT Manager had all the certs and college education, but he was a complete idiot and did more damage than he did good and cost the company a fortune while he was there. He made $22,000 a year. I make $18,000 a year. It takes me 3 hours to explain something to my bosses that would take one sentence to native English-speaking people. My IT budget is almost non-existant, but I work with it (I did all the server upgrading for $500). I'd love to make even $25,000 or more a year, but it's not going to happen. That doesn't mean I'm going to do less of a job because I don't earn much. I love my job. I love where I live. I just had to be given a chance. If you want good, cheap help, consider giving someone a chance that you wouldn't normally hire.

Tater Salad
Tater Salad

My sentiments exactly. Don't forget, you also have to keep up with the latest technology on your own time at your own expense. Oh, and by the way, if you are good at what you do, you'll most likely never be promoted.

ashenfalcon
ashenfalcon

It?? is not completely correct - It is easy to find good, cheap help - the operative word is "help". I've seen customer service entities with more executives than agents. I've watched business offices for modestly sized companies hire a stream of Accts payable. Accts receivable, Reconciliations, Collections, Admin Asst... personnel. Let the IT guy say he needs to hire one 25-28k/year assistant to train help with operations - and it's never in the budget. As an afterword, these same entities are the first complain that there is no good, experienced help out there - think about it.

ashenfalcon
ashenfalcon

There are literally thousands of IT/ Network students hungry for entry; intern positions, trying to get experience as well as certifications - The "IT-guy" mentioned was once one of them. The problem is that IT infrastructure is such an out-of-sight / out-of-mind facet of an organization that many business owners and managers have little, if any idea know complex it is. They therefore adopt the idea that one "troll" can manage an infrastructure - no matter its size or functions - and have no idea that some certifications (like CCIE) are virtually impossible to attain without years of hands-on.

qtip20
qtip20

I can't agree with this more. I am so sick of hearing about managers not being able to find good help. The problem is they want you to be a CCIE, MCSE, know everything from SQL to VOIP to web development, but only want to pay you 45k-50k a year. I've been rejected for 3 positions now because I didn't know 2-3 technologies out of the 25 they were looking for. Then tried to tell me because I didn't know those techs, I could only be classified as a level 1 which was a 20k pay cut from what I'm making now. That's what sucks about IT, everyone wants you to know everything, but work for entry level salaries.

glgruver
glgruver

As long as they can find someone who will work for sweatshop wages, either through outsourcing, H1B Visas or even finding a hungry consultant, the low wage expectations will continue. I read somewhere that economists are beginning to worry about this Country's economic future. With a lot of the good paying jobs leaving the country, who will be left that can afford to buy all of the consumer goods that make up 2/3 of our GDP? I don't care which political party is in power, the politicos in Washington are rapidly turning this country into a third world nation. Can this trend be reversed? Possibly, but neither political party seems to have any stomach for doing what is needed.

DaemonSlayer
DaemonSlayer

You are right. We all can't work at McDonalds, and McDonald's can afford to hire us all anyway. We ship out our best paying jobs for what?? the OLD_MONEY can get even fatter along with the NEW_MONEY that old_money despises (ya know how old_money loves exclusivity)??? That means only the Money's can afford anything and the rest of us are no better than slave labor. Money and politics are bed buddies these days. Corporate Lobbiests have tainted our government and bought our officials, and UNFORTUNATELY if new-blood makes it into the government... they do everything they can to corrupt them too. Is it any wonder that neither political party has the stomach to do what is needed? (the Eddy Murphy movie "The Distinguished Gentleman," while making fun of it, I think, hits the nail on the head of how corrupted our officials can get).

reisen55
reisen55

Inheritance is an opportunity for a good consultant wrapped in an enigma. I obtained one of my BEST accounts because of a total screw-up by a bad consultant that wrecked their server and had no backups of their accounting data at all. While it is a mess to rebuild, welcome the opportunity to do SOMETHING RIGHT. Prove yourself everyday? This is not unique, everybody in a job anywhere has to do the same, same thing every day. Good Help is hard to find, most of it is in India these days and there is sucks. American IT has run to the hills or discovered that CPA beats out an MCSC any day of the week in terms of income About Magic: I agree here, and whenever I am working on a hard problem, I do NOT WANT MY CUSTOMER to see what I am doing. Let the magic happen off-site and out of their view. Also, I am not a FAST worker on some tasks - so that expectations are set at a decent level. The Engineer Scott law: always multiply your repair estimates by a factor of four. Y2K was a joke. The media over-hyped to our career peril. Thanks, guys. But the big thing remains outsourcing. That is the worst because you can be THE BEST IN EVERYTHING and management will STILL CAN YOUR JOB just to send it overseas for CHEAPER,FASTER,BETTER (which I write as one word deliberately) and save salary expense.

yagzygee
yagzygee

That is why IT isn't just like any other job, it really requires a lot of "hard work", "dedication" and "hard work".

christopher.ramey
christopher.ramey

Yeah, good timing. I worked from 5:30am to 11:30pm just yesterday. And the only reason I was able to leave was becuase I asked my boss becuase I was getting so tired. Some guys are still here this morning (7am) working on the issues. This continues to be MY personal thing that sucks about IT. The off hours weekend overtime! Now excuse me, but I'm going to take a nap at my desk! ;o)

Cisco-SA
Cisco-SA

This is not limited to IT. You always have to keep proving yourself. Don't sit on your laurels, sharpen the saw, keep moving forward, the future looks bright. They are not just platitudes, they apply to everyone, not just to the small group of people who manage computer networks. There is no such thing as job security, just ask the divorc??e.

GreenPirogue
GreenPirogue

When I first read the new article, I thought the same thing. Repeatedly proving yourself is not limited to IT. It's not like you developed a database and now you can surf porn and read Dilbert books. It doesn't work that way. Every year, I try to accomplish one kick-ass project, sharpen one skill, and not piss anyone off. Pepper that with a lot of little projects that help several people, and I am employed the next year.

seanferd
seanferd

They think that because they were listening to the folks with stories of planes dropping from the sky, all utilities being shut off, nuclear missiles launching, you name it. Of course they see it as over-hyped because that is the dreck that they heard, and some believed, at least enough to be worried. What they don't know is all the work that went into fixing something that affected almost every computer-related system in the world. Doesn't help that hardware and OS vendors waited so long to design for the obviously coming fin de si??cle. Between that and business decisions, in some cases this left a relatively short time to fix code that had been running and growing since time out of mind. "Well, you'd just change the date, right?"

andrew.moore
andrew.moore

Back in '97 I was approached by a journalist who asked me what my predictions where regarding the millennium bug. I went in to a lot of detail but what it boiled down to was that IT people had been aware of the problem for awhile, had already started to address the major issues and that the worst that would happen would be a few minor issues but nothing critical. However the journalist kept pushing me for the doomsday scenarios (plans falling from the sky, nuclear missiles being launched etc) and I kept negating them. Needless to say when the article was published, nothing of what I said made it- That got in the way of a good media over hype story. The journalist went with her original doomsday scenarios instead.

DaemonSlayer
DaemonSlayer

It also shows that the media isnt as objective as they protray themselves to be. Sensationalism is more thier game than telling the facts. Y2K was overhyped from the beginning. I could see the connection between billing and records getting royally messed up, but, catastrophic failures... come-on.

crazytonyi
crazytonyi

I am in user services (ie, tech support) and both on the job and off the clock I've been praised for my magic touch and scorned as a bad luck charm, sometimes by the same users. Anytime someone brings in a laptop with a problem that "magically" isn't there when they boot up, I'm both embarrassed and flattered as they praise me for fixing it "just by looking at it." On the flip side, I've seen computers take a nose dive during basic troubleshooting or, while walking a customer through a simple procedure, revealed a bug or vulnerability that made the system at best less familiar and at worst less usable. I, of course, must take the good with the bad and apologize for a programmer's bad design or a system failure I happened to be witness to. The best customers are those who have enough savvy to know what a computer SHOULD do and therefor can utter the phrase "well that shouldn't have happened" rather than give the technician a betrayed glare.

eric.drapier
eric.drapier

I have been workin in IT for nearly 30 years and all I have read here is true and encountered (Y2K bug, misunderstanding, "that's your fault" symptoma and so on...) As was saying ManMin2, only two arms, two legs, one brain, and sometimes we have to sleep...

dcwhitworth
dcwhitworth

One thing that bugs me is that IT is almost always looked upon as an overhead by bean counters. They so often fail to see the direct relationship between IT and business health/success.

tuomo
tuomo

It may be today but there was a time almost all the IT (IS) departments were profit centers in 70's. Then, in 80's the IT wanted to separate itself from the business and that's what we see today. That is a normal behavior for a young trade, has always been, and has some benefits but also some problems. The problem we see today that most of the IT management is from those days and just can't / want change. Next generation which will take over shortly understands that IT is just a business function, no magic here! And so much for "not finding good help" - bye! About the other points - skill shortage? Give me a break, if there is a skill shortage it is on management side! We have already a full generation which has grown with computers so no shortage of technical skills. Maybe someone is afraid becoming obsolete and blames others of their incompetence - a normal sign of insecurity! The "yes Sir" mentality was supposed to be forgotten in eighteen hundred or so, it sounds so colonial? Bad inheritance - unfortunately true. Amazingly this is the way most places are, it's almost every time, a clean up job? Believe me - over 35 years in this business and, unfortunately, very few times creating something which works but cleaning up what was done? I still don't understand why companies / corporations want it that way - in clinical terms it is called a suicidal habit or self inflicted maladaptive coping mechanism. Wouldn't it for once be worth to do it right from start? Still looking! Prove yourself? Why - the psychologists have a term for people who require others to prove themselves over and over again - google for it. Not flattering for your manager! Working out of job - this is interesting, have seen that a couple of times, gone back as a very highly paid consultant to do the same job they paid much less when I was employed? The problem in IT is that it's ever evolving and changing field - nothing is the same tomorrow. Some management (which got their experience maybe in 80's or with DOS, early 80's, creating Basic programs or hacking over telephone/modems at that time) doesn't really understand that technology has gone and will go further every day. There is no way a company which want to survive can stop to what is / was done - no matter how good it looks today. If they don't enhance / change it for tomorrow, they will perish sooner or later. So - you can't "work yourself out of the job" assuming you don't stagnate, there is always the next day in a winning company.

GreenPirogue
GreenPirogue

I think the reason that IT went from profit center to overhead was that people intrinsically knew investing in IT was good (not all IT and not all good, but you get the idea). Trouble was, it was hard to quantify IT contributions. Senior management wanted despiritly to commit funds but the bean counters could not make the numbers work out. Then, the profit center was moved and we could commit dollars to IT. The pendelum has swung the other way, now.

dcwhitworth
dcwhitworth

In the 70s and early 80s IT was seen as a competitive edge for business. Not all companies had it, those that had were percieved (rightly or wrongly) as having an advantage and companies would cheerfully pay for that advantage. Two things then happened, eventually *everyone* got IT, so it changed from being an advantage you could get to a cost you had to bear. Secondly there was an economic downturn and various people started to say "Why are we paying out all this money and what benefit does it get us ?"

ngc248
ngc248

Indeed, the ECBC (Evil Corporate Bean Counters) never forego the chance to remind us, that we are a Cost center and not a Profit center. They don't tend to take into consideration how much is being saved indirectly through IT... sheesh

DaemonSlayer
DaemonSlayer

the ECBC (evil corp. bean counters), and those who love money, or the possession of it over everything else... RARELY look long term. "Spend $0.40 cents in production more???? NOPE!!! NEVER!!!! ruins our price point." Nevermind that it saves money in product support in the long run (and more that they shelled out over what they wanted to at that.) Leave it to the ECBC, and one person would run the show of production, support, and sales all in the name of $PROFITS$ if they thought it would work.

TimH.
TimH.

I agree, but lately companies are starting to see IT as a critical business unit. IT is like the oil in your car engine. It might not be obvious that it helps your business progress and expand, but without IT, your business WILL eventually wither and die.