Leadership investigate

Video: Dirty little secrets about working in IT

Like every profession, IT has its own set of dirty little secrets that its members don't often talk about out loud. However, if IT leaders aren't aware of these issues then they can quietly doom an IT department to failure. Episode #2 of Sanity Savers for IT executives shines the spotlight on five of these dirty little secrets.

Like every profession, IT has its own set of dirty little secrets that its members don't often talk about out loud. However, if IT leaders aren't aware of these issues then they can quietly doom an IT department to failure. Episode #2 of Sanity Savers for IT executives shines the spotlight on five of these dirty little secrets.

For more, you can also read the original article that this video was based on, download the article as a PDF, and read the original discussion thread:

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.

72 comments
mellis
mellis

I dropped a 2U Dell 2970. RapidRails, I hate you! My 6'3" 250 pound ego told me that an 80 pound server is small and I could easily rack that by myself. I placed the server into its slide bolt locks like it was supposed to be in, but I had not seen the one that missed. The server room is on the 2nd story of the building... everyone heard it from here up to heaven. Did I fail to mention that this was the financial/ERP stack server? Well, one thing is for sure, Dell makes some hearty servers. They are 6ft drop proof. Even though 3 hard drives flew out, one redundant power supply flew out, and the ears were bent. Well, I got help this time and got out my trusty leatherman and bent the ears back into shape. Then I placed everything back into it while inspecting for real damage. I got it racked with the help of the president of the company who happened to be standing out on the facility bay area. He heard it and came running thinking something bad happened. Well, he didn't say anything. He just said, "need help?" I got that sucker in there and it didn't boot. That was the point where I began to start sweating a little. I thought that one of the hard drives had died on the RAID. So I racked it back out and got into the case and saw that the hard drive RAID backplane had two disconnections and was about to crack. I quickly eased it back into to place and got the system back in. It booted. Luckily, I manage an enterprise where I am the one man IT force. They like me and they wouldn't can me for a stupid boner of a mistake. The president just laughed at me saying, "So, you pulled your first boner. I have done it too. It happens." Trust me... that wasn't the worst... I got to witness a complete dope operate a forklift. The load was a Dell 42U rack. He had to put it on a 2nd story mezzanine. Well, he forgot to drop his forks when he pulled off and pulled off fast. Bye-bye rack. That one was NOT a secret. XD

thomas.kopp
thomas.kopp

He uses his hands too much when speaking. It's to the point were it gets on your nerves.

kkp40
kkp40

And what do you do???? I been working about 23 years in the IT bussines and I would say that I meet with arrogant consultant and veteran consultant. But I think the biggest problem is the IT manager that don't have the knowledge about IT but THEY DON'T WANT TO ADMIT to this and make decisions despite their own staffs advise. So please don't give bad IT-executives the idea that they know best. Tell then to listen to people that have experience and knowledge.

dean.owen
dean.owen

But I'm not so sure about number 5. This happens more by accident than conciously. Number 1 is right on the money - I've seen that happen too many times.

wbtedrick
wbtedrick

I know that there are more good people out there just doing the right thing for their business then the other way around.. It is human nature to focus on the problems and causes but it takes real leadership to find solutions. There are three types of people, those that see the problem, those that fix the problem and those that are the problem! At one time or another each of us are one of the above..

Jon
Jon

You are right sir. Most people will not take resposibilty for the fear of job security. I take blame for everything. I am the whole IT Department, so who else can make the mistakes. I have done my fair share of not testing updates. .Net just loves me for it. No one will ever know everything in IT, and personally I have to wear every hat there is. I'm a Jack of all trades, but a master of none.

wbtedrick
wbtedrick

Every advancement in IT seems to replace more and more of the required human intervention so there is less need for workers and managers. Be careful what you wish for when it comes to new tech for the next great thing might replace you!

richo21432
richo21432

Great Article/video. The problem is, is that IT Pros are not the only ones that act like this. I've gotten the same exact behavior in any department I've worked in. But actually, I've found that the less technically advanced a department is, the greater these dirty little secrets shine! But it's great that you actually pinpointed the behavior and warned people about it. That type of behavior merits an award and can do nothing but help to improve a newby's attitude when starting a new job. It's a good preparation for what's in store for someone coming straight out of school. Thanks, great job! richo214

melekali
melekali

Veterans do not always stop new technologies nor make decisions based on what is best for them. I should know - I am one.

bdyson
bdyson

Unions = paying dues so the top guys can make money and put political minded croonies in public office. The only reason for a union is management has screwed up so bad that it is the only option left. So the better solution I believe is to educate and communicate with management.

cbellur
cbellur

I don't think veteran IT pros want to keep the same technology running. Bad and shortsighted ones do. But if you don't have current skills, you are far more desperate and have to cling to your job. Anyone who can see a few days beyond tomorrow will know that their skills must be recent, and embrace it. For me, the subject matter expertise (healthcare) and knowledge of how the product works, regardless of what new platform we port our app to, is what gives me job security. Anyone concerned about the future of their career will naturally want to learn more. In 12 years of IT, I have seen veteran IT pro's push for new technology far more often than to ride the inertia of the existing technology. Maybe it is because I work in the Silicon Valley and techies are much more ambitious? But I think what you are talking about is just plain wrong.

dave_shepherd
dave_shepherd

Pointing the bone at veterans as a group was pretty unfair, fear of change isn't neccessarily an age issue (I'm 35 by the way, so a long way from a pension). IT professionals of many different degrees of experience can be stuck in their ways, it depends on the individual. An older head may know multiple ways to do things.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

Let's not implement the very latest technology until AFTER they get the bugs sorted out, it's dropped in price, and we KNOW how it's going to work. One place I worked at a few years ago, the IT Manager wanted to put in a new device that included the hardware and software in one package. based on the sellers marketing reports it would work great, however, based on my study of the tech specs and proposed operations it was, for us, an expensive bomb. I was the only one with enough knowledge and guts to speak against buying and deploying the unit when the big boss visited to discuss how many we should buy and deploy to our clients. My contract wasn't renewed after that incident. However, the fiasco ended up costing both bosses their jobs and the company about a quarter million when they found out none of the devices were deployable in a redundant gateway, they were configurable only for a single run gateway without a true DMZ. All the clients had fully redundant gateways with full DMZ set ups and IDS, the full security barrel. Even putting two units in didn't work as they couldn't be set to talk to each other. Sometimes those old heads DO KNOW better than the new guys. Mind you, I've seen both old heads and new heads object to new tech simply because they didn't want to change.

davidj2
davidj2

Listen to Veteran IT Pros. They are always right. Management and consultants are salesman and do not have an appreciable skill.

bdyson
bdyson

" Those who do not learn from their history (veteran pros) are doomed to repeat it."

ehagihara
ehagihara

Learn from other people's mistakes. You don't have time to make them all on your own. Case in point (and a true story): Prior to me joining one job I used to have: - Arrogant IT Manager was setting up a new drive array. - Director of IT tells him it's getting late; go home. - Manager decides to stay anyway. He formats the new array. - Coworker behind him notices that the array size is wrong. - Shock and horror ensue when he realizes he was looking at the wrong KVM port and he's just formatted over 300GB of production magazine data. - They call offsite backups to restore the data lost. - They insert the backup tape to restore. - Backup job hadn't run the night before, and the tape was NOT write-protected. - The only good backup they had was overwritten. - Company loses 3 months of data and millions of dollars.

h_buchal
h_buchal

English/History Majors and often without having a Bachelor or associate are running IT departments of some of the well known hedge funds...it was a shocker to find out that in today's IT only good contacts work not having CCNP, MCSE, BS in Computer Science, years of experience...i mean guys who don't even know how configure a simple Cisco Router... it's a shocker

No User
No User

I see nothing about these that I don't see one way or another in every profession they are not IT specific. As per your infamous "10" things/step PDF download. 1. Jargon is used by everyone in all professions to confuse and hide mistakes. 2. Acquiring products and or implementing procedures that do little or nothing beside preserve your power and or job is certainly used by all professions. 3. Veterans who serve as obstacles and block change is certainly used by all professions. 4. Dealing with old stuff most of the time instead of new once again is certainly experienced by all professions. As a side note it conflicts some what with numbers 2 and 3. Number 3 it's self can be a good thing. If it does no harm and it works don't fix it. Why toss something that works perfectly well simply because there is a newer one? On the other hand number 2 can be used to remove something that works just fine strictly for personal gain. 5. Vendors and consultants are not limited to IT and having them blame you when things go bad and take credit for the good things is simply what those folks do. 6. Folks have a tendency to use the assets of others and that is certainly not restricted to IT. 7. Training and certification is once again not restricted to IT and it's either good or bad. You can benefit by it but it's not a given and it is certainly used by all professions. 8. Going from hero to zero is certainly not IT specific. 9. Blaming others and denying your own fault (deny deny deny) is a product of our culture and is certainly used by all professions. 10. As far as pay goes it's not always so good and it is the same for all professions if you are paid well they think they own you. I think that a high school kid considering IT and perhaps a college freshman majoring in IT may benefit by these 10 things but certainly not the seasoned IT pros that it is aimed at. Perhaps if at TR in general would lose the 10 step/things mentality and just toss a few tidbits out what ever the count they would be more useful. Perhaps if you delved into a few of these and explored them in detail and had input from others as well as questions, answers and debate you could come up with something rich and substantive. Not to pick on you but these 10 things are certainly not video material. Making the video of these 10 things is kinda Charley the Tunaish. We don't want 10 things we want substantive, informative things with clarity what ever the actual count is.

don.gulledge
don.gulledge

During my XX+ years, I've been on both sides of the IT fence, as the consultant and as IT Management. I learned a long time ago a phrase that sticks with me during some training on writing SOWs. A contract is dependent upon a "meeting of the minds". I think most failures in IT come from a failure of the "meeting of the minds" between the contracted and the contractor. A good balanced contract is one where the work to be done is balanced with the available information of the system being built. In too many cases, the client is too lazy to do their part in providing a really good description and operational view of their process (via incompetence, self perservation by employees of territory, not having a good system working already in manual mode) leaving the consultant to overcome these problems which results in a much less valuable product than if they had this taken care of up front like it's supposed to be. And, many business functions are very reluctant to contract on just gathering these requirements. They expect the consultant to just pick them out of thin air. Too many times, as consultants we go into projects not really having a good detailed description and our bosses (consulting company) are too eager to get the work and totally disregard this need. Plus, clients don't want to specify much because if they're wrong, the contractor can hold them accountable and the blame can be fixed right to the person it belongs. So, it's easier just to put the consultant in this limbo state and have a fall back when things go bad. Although, IT management and consultant usually both get a black eye from a failed project. But, it always falls back on the programmer when buisness facts are unknown causing the project to fail. As time goes on, I find this problem is getting worse and frankly, I don't like being the consultant (outside) or the programmer (inhouse) that has to be the one left holding the bag when it comes to not knowing the facts. The one thing you can tell they don't teach in Business School is the savvy to map out a business system and process with the right kind of description that a programmer can use to build a program. Seems like all they know to do is build flowcharts and list that they think are good business descriptions that don't tell you anything of importance or they're too busy writing a book on how to do it and adding more trivia to the world. How many time you get a product near end and one little simple question opens up a whole dialog about something they just happened to have forgotten or overlooked that make one big difference in the product?

GaryChernipeski
GaryChernipeski

reading that I couldn't help thinking there are (inhouse) and (outhouse) human resources LOL. NOTE for non *americans an outhouse is the small back yard shed that houses the no-flush toilet :) The 'other' thing I have been heavily involved in is Rapid App Dev tools just because after years of that 'one simple question at the end' problem you mention. I'm also personally done with fixed budget and time-line projects -- a terribly hard sell I assure you. I use this question during the inevitable resistance in pitch meeetings. "When is your business going to be done?" After the "um whatever do you mean crazy consultant?" stuff I can fire off the assurance that this ERP project will be done development when your business is done development -- obviously never. So now we can get on to aggreeing on a fair price and a realistic way to measure progress that clarifies that costs caused by mistakes are ALWAYS going to accrue to the client, and if that doesn't sit well then go ahead and order yourself a traditional consulting firm and get back on the merry-go-round of b*llshit. I can nearly always deliver of perfectly scoped project on time and budget, but there is nothing on earth I can do to ensure it matches the business need in the end. Psychologically some people will always prefer the 'organisation' brought on by over simplification. And to THOSE people outsourcing to India or Phillippines or wherever the current promises are the most cheap sounding will always seem like a great idea. I say this prayer... "please God let me survive until all the fools run their companies into the ground or retire to their shrinking federal reserve note 401K's and plummetting house values"

dnealey
dnealey

Hi Don, It sounds like your programming environment is waterfall. From what you know about Agile, would it be better for your company? I don't develop large apps myself but I tell clients upfront that my process is iterative. I know that I won't get everything they want in Rev 1, 2, and 3, and they need to commit to working with me over several weeks or months. Just curious about your thoughts. David

don.gulledge
don.gulledge

No matter how old I get, a new idea or product seems to emerge about every year that is supposed to make software development work. Same old stuff, just new packaging. My experience has taught me that no software can ever replace good old common sense and knowhow. I agree that there is some give and take in any development, and that's not what I'm targeting in my comment. In the day, when there was no computer software and you wanted to build a product for someone, you just sat down with the people that did the job and picked their brain. They were mostly happy to oblige because they knew that you were going to make their jobs easier, better and faster. Most manual systems were well worked out and people of the time were usually very expert and knowledgable. So, the more difficult thing of the day was to get the tech to do it w/o running out memory, or pipes or storage. That was the more difficult part. Nowadays, the tech isn't the problem. But, you run into trying to build something when your basic information comes from someone who's not wanting the change for fear of jobloss or replacement. People have become insecure nowadays and they don't like giving it up as before. Then, you have the the total incompetents that know what they're doing, but do it anyway. And, finally you have the ones that like things just the way they are. So, most projects and their success don't depend on the give and take, but the accululation of valid information at the beginning which in many cases might not be so easy to get, very accurate, or complete. I personnally always liked getting the skeleton and using give and take to fill out the meat and muscle or even fat. But today, they want to throw you a rib and expect you create the rest on your own. Or, they want three legs instead of the one leg they have and forgot to tell you about the other two. Next time you do a project, no matter how big or small. Write it up in a good description where it shows the flow and the data and the by products and ask them to sign off on it before coding. See how much things change.

GaryChernipeski
GaryChernipeski

this was written by someone who's been around. ditto all the way sir!

DeeSigner
DeeSigner

This video is completely useless. Please tell me something I don't know. Watching this is like reading the cartoons at the beginning of each chapter of "IT for Dummies". Please consider taking the approach of a serious news team and deliver me breaking news from the world of IT. CNN for IT!

rp4643
rp4643

excellent, it really hits home

boolsea
boolsea

I guess you would class me as an IT veteran (40 years in (many kinds of) software development). I think the comment about veterans is a steriotype, it depends greatly upon the individual. Just as many youngsters are lazy and produce poor qualty work (no matter how you define quality). I have seen university IT graduates who shouldn't be out on their own, never mind working in IT. I started in 1968 using assembler on non-networked systems using teletypes. My current role involves AJAX/XSLT/XML/PHP/Java/RDB and various other Web based techologies on leadin edge software that's sellin as fast as we can ship it. Not really a roadblock i guess.

usmcdjb
usmcdjb

Just kidding! There are exceptions to the rule, for sure. But I have seen the IT veterans in an organization certainly be a roadblock. No, doesn't always happen that way. But it does happen. I do agree with the questionable work ethic of the younger generation as well.

boolsea
boolsea

Yes you are correct, it's an individual thing. I have learned that the more I learn, the more I want to learn and the less I know. I have seen people of all ages stifle initiative and progress for many reasons. Hopefuly I was never, and will never be, one of them, I am having too much fun trying to keep up.

reisen55
reisen55

If you are an American IT worker, sooner or later you will encounter "workforce adjustment" (used to be Reduction in force) when your management decides that outsourcing to Bangalore is better because they can get the same quality job (not) for cheaper, faster, better. After all, why pay YOU when users can pickup a phone and have their problems fixed by somebody half a world away who doesn't know their working environment, has 1 year under the belt and reads from a script. See how simple that is? There is no more career field in IT in America. Bank on it.

handyman1972
handyman1972

I can certainly agree with the perspectives and experiences relayed here regarding downsizing and outsourcing. One of the core issues is that in many cases, others in the company are simply not well versed enough to grasp the complexities and minutia of everything it takes to keep an organization running from a technological standpoint. As such, this leads to a mindset that it is relatively easy to find someone to do the work cheaper. Sadly, this will likely remain the case forever. IT is a specialized field that most people just "don't get". However, one way I have found to help secure your position, is to grow beyond it. What I mean by that is to learn more about the other workings of your company, get involved, and help show that you are more than just "the computer guy". Once you are able to show management that you bring more to the table by helping to find ways to create positive change and increased efficiency (thus saving money) in many of the company's processes, your "value" goes up considerably. Management always looks at things from a cost/benefit ratio. If you increase the benefit the company derives from you, verses your cost, you can be viewed as an irreplaceable asset. While I have no formal education in IT, I replaced a 4 year graduate (and I'm paid over twice as much) in managing the network and tech needs of a company with 120 networked devices, 6 servers, 9 mobile laptops, 125 cell phones and PDAs, and custom designed applications. How did I manage to pull that off? I got involved in everything from sales to accounting and found ways to make things better, faster, and cheaper for everyone. The two most common "deficits" I see with many IT people (not all) is a lack of general business knowledge and experience in that area. They don't know how to relate their department back to the rest of the business, and then leverage those skills into a broader involvement in the organization. Expand your skill sets and horizons, learn some things about common business practices, and get involved. It will pay off in a big way!

No User
No User

Look at how many companies outsource IT to an American company. I'm just astounded how many companies have no real IT people working for them. They outsource all the real IT and have those folks right there on site with them they just work for a different company. All they concern them selves with as far as IT goes is operations and the staff are operations types (folks who worked in some other department in the company) and most of them if not all don't have an IT back ground they just refer to them as IT. They all seem to have the same pattern. They don't implement IT well. They spend far more then they should on IT because they neither implement IT well and in not doing so they don't get the most out of their investment (which both increases cost and reduces revenue), they also spend a great deal of money on things they either don't need or simply don't use and the polar opposite they don't buy things they need and they outsource IT which cost much more. To top it all off if not straight away then over time they have the so called IT folks who are by no means genuine IT folks that migrate into IT and they make lousy decisions and operations suffer and they generate less revenue as a result. It's scary that you have clueless wonders in a position of power and especially IT since IT is the very fabric that binds everything together all operations are dependent on IT.

hforman
hforman

There are two types of outsourcing. One is domestic "outsourcing" and the other is foreign. Domestic really is called 'contracting' and it has always been there. This is used because, with project planning and time constraints, there is very little time to bring on a new staff, bring them up to speed and, after the project, lay them off (with severance pay). For short-term projects, it is usually helpful just to contract out if the resources needed far exceeds those already hired. In the case of foreign outsourcing, this is a much nastier manner. This is establishing a semi-permanent relationship. It allows a company to BYPASS all U.S. labor laws and do it legally. For example, if a company needs 100 workers to man the telephones at the call center, even paying the workers minimum wage cannot beat prices for overseas where people still receive sub-standard pay and live in squalid conditions. Of course the overseas company can not afford to send anyone out for training either in general or for the specifics of the product they are supporting. So the entire training is: "How to speak good English on the telephone". Then they are given a script that will handle some problems where the frequent ends of the script that "fall off the page" mean the tech needs to explain to the consumer that they should not use the part of the software that doesn't work, even if the consumer paid extra for that module. They waste your time for two-three weeks before they bounce the problem to the next level and then they tell you the problem can't be fixed. So, you call the home office and talk to someone there and, in 15 minutes, some tech solves the problem. The only reason that companies keep up with this nonsense is because they know that their competition is doing it too and, they don't want to revert back to their high-cost in-house solution. If customers "go away" thats a "marketting issue" and not a support issue. When do we apply a government constraints on service contracts with overseas companies the same way we apply import restrictions on foreign counties for products? However, just farming a project out to a U.S. firm here and there to avoid new staffing concerns isn't too bad. At least you can always quit the company you work for and go work for the contractor.

Robbi_IA
Robbi_IA

Company management has discovered that the hiring department (HR) cannot successfully hire IT staff because they have little to no knowledge of the inner workings of IT. They don't know what the company needs and don't understand what good IT qualifications are. So by outsourcing to a service company that hires their IT staff for them (and pays them, etc, relieving the parent company of all responsibility), they think they will get a much more qualified IT staff. On the contrary, what usually happens is the service company fills spots with entry-level staff who know very little about the technology they are expected to maintain, and even less about the company requirements. Service companies might have a few talented people working for them, but they tend to pay less and therefore don't keep the good folks around long. When the qualified people leave, their positions are often filled with "warm bodies" rather than good staff.

arignote
arignote

Many agencies in the federal government have for years relied on outsourcing IT. As a result, the federal technical staff in these agencies no longer have relevant technical skills. The theory was, outsourced IT would reduce costs by outsourcing for only the time needed for development. The costs are actually hirer. The projects tend to run for years. Since the same contractors may be involved in development and maintenance, there is little incentive to get it right the first time. The cost for each contractor is at least double the cost of an employee. Plus the cost of the contractor manager for each group of projects. Many of the contractors are on visas, since contractors don?t have to be citizens to work on Federal IT projects. Unlike federal staff which are US citizens. Many of the foreign contractors have advanced degrees, but not necessarily higher pay (sort of indentured servants). As with all IT, some are excellent IT workers, some are not so good. The incentive some (not all) contracting managers have is: how many contracts and how large a staff can they contract out. Quality comes second. I know of more than one contractor that was let go after proposing more efficient ways that would result a shorter development schedule and fewer maintenance costs.

radicale
radicale

No kidding - after being outsourced from the same company twice, I tend to agree. The worst here is if the company is US based, you will get cut, or outsourced, no matter how different the environment is from the US. You would think they would have learned something from the first time they outsourced (i.e. cheaper also means less quality!).

reisen55
reisen55

And sending it to India. No matter how good your skill set is, and Lynn Blodgett of ACS has said this, if management can find someone else to do the job ... not the same job mind you, just the job ... for less money (salary and healthcare expense) then they cannot afford to ignore that economy. Read that: don't let the door hit your a?? on the way out. Welcome India. Would you like an Email survey? I would not recommend IT as a career to anybody anymore.

jacob3273
jacob3273

Management blind? Or desperately trying to cover their exposed posteriors? Call me outsourced and retired. I feel for you guys who must continue to put up with this "Dilbert" stuff. I wonder whether Scott Adams realizes how prophetic and on target his satire really is.

reisen55
reisen55

I am glad your company realized the value of their mistake. I worked for a major Manhattan Insurance firm that outsourced everyone OUT in December, 2005 so that Computer Sciences Corporation could retain the sacred agreement which was about to be tossed out because of BAD service. BAD service is what they continue to get and management sees in it as A SHINING SUCCESS of course. Blind. It will take years for American industry and IT workers to recover from this disaster.

itjunkie
itjunkie

True.. but the boomerang effect is also quite real too. Most companies I have worked for either do 1 of 2 things...outsource or bring back. Currenly I work for a shop that was paying a lot for outsoruced IT services and brought it back in house becuase they needed two things, value for the money and control over what is happening. Sometimes it takes a company years to figure it out but, when they do it hits them like a sack of hammers. Another place I worked for laid me off for this same reason (money). Then two years later they brought it all back. So whenever I get laid off... my response is "call me when it failes, it always does.". Another cool factoid.. as India transistions from a third world to a first world country and the dollar sinks like a stone. India von't be looking as goot. ...and please don't be vezzing the juice!

geebees8
geebees8

Poor presentation...just one guy and one background (except for the goon who is out of context) -- check the presentation by viewing without the audio and see what I mean. +Geebees

neilb
neilb

what? Directed by Spielberg? Dancing girls? Seeing as the presentation was Jason talking, viewing it without the audio is pretty dumb. Try listening to it without the video. Or, maybe, without either? Cracking first post geebeees. After two years as a member, it was worth waiting for. Neil :)

bhardwaj_saket59
bhardwaj_saket59

Yes, these statements are 100% correct, But every job has its own advantages and disadvantages.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

Original post: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/hiner/?p=691 What are some of the dirty little secrets that you've encountered about working in IT and/or managing an IT department?

jck
jck

a) i have seen IT vets be a roadblock, but the biggest roadblock i've seen to procuring really useful technology...were management...or budget. fact is, it's okay when you ask for $900 for a new workstation...but when you ask for $500,000 for the new server cluster and backup systems and power systems...those people freeze like deer in headlights... then their face turns red when stuff fails and you're down for 3 hours restoring backups lol b) i used to have a boss that had molded the entire department around *his* skillsets...rather than that of his staff. and, he refused to send anyone to training. he expected you to buy a book and learn it on your own, even if you worked 60 hour weeks. c) same boss mentioned above...was the biggest kickback junkie ever. he got free tickets and VIP passes to the Daytona 500 from our T-1 provider...etc. never shared it or invited other employees to go. just took his wife and hob-knobbed. the loser lol d) taking credit for work is one of the lowest things. i had a friend i worked with. he wrote a tech spec and some software for a communications interface. his team lead took the document, put his name on it, took all the remarks out of the code, switched a bit of code up so it wasn't line-for-line...then took all the credit. i hurt people like that...literally.

Chaz Chance#
Chaz Chance#

Once a company gets big enough that you start dividing the workforce up into "departments", you create a competitive, uncooperative environment. Loyalties, which should be to the hand that pays the wages, go instead to their buddies in the department. Ivory towers are built, and the us against them attitude is almost impossible to avoid. The more departments that a particular department interacts with, the stronger the friction. IT support interacts with everybody, so no wonder it is most noticed for this. A good manager will understand this and use it to the benefit of the company. But really! Can you show me a department in the company that isn't guilty of some form of this? The sales department won't cooperate with the developers, and sell features your kit doesn't have. The finance department enforce rules that prevent you buying from the best supplier, and strain relationships with your best customers. The HR department are happy to change the wording on your job adverts so that the people with the skills you need don't apply, and vice versa, but get them to do something about the guy with the hygiene problem... And as for resistance to change, don't we all do that? Have you got an item in your wardrobe that you know is out of fashion? Have you got some 12 inch vinyls stored away? Are there things in your loft that you keep because you might need them, but you really know you won't? I have got a warehouse-man who refuses to have shelves in the documents archive area because "it is more work than picking them up off the floor". I have a track engineer who had to be convinced that a porters truck would help him carry his tools to site. I have an admin officer who wants her computer to have Windows 98, because her incompatible version of MS Office won't run on XP, and won't use MS Office XP because it won't run on '98... People don't like change, which is why business MBAs usually include a course on Change Management. There are very few "dirty secrets" that don't apply to every department in the company. I have seen similar articles before, about almost every department you can think of. No credits for throwing this old chestnut at the IT people.

doug.statum
doug.statum

The client I work for says its all about the bottom line, when in fact, its not really. Here's why: As of right now, the I.T. department has to physically touch or remote into each machine on the domain to do a software install, upgrade, update, or patch. For example, to maintain and update Symantec Antivirus (S.A.V.)engine for one year, it costs about $200 THOUSAND DOLLARS. Here is an example of this cost break down: Let?s say you have 3 support techs that have to update the corporate location, which consists of about 600 machines. These techs make $25/hr and they each spend 45 hours in a given week doing this update. That equals $3375. Their manager helps out and spends 50 hours at $40/hour, because he's a work-aholic. That?s another $2000 totaling $5375 spent on just updating Houston! There are 5000 total machines in North America that have to have this same update. Based on the above numbers, that would be approximately $42,000 for just this one update. This was done three times in 2007 alone, totaling about $125,000 in lost revenue. Now, each upgrade takes about 15 min to do, causing the end user to just sit there and wait. If the company as a whole averages $18/hr and 5000 employees were down for 15 minutes each, that would be another $25,000 (appx) for each upgrade. Remember, there were 3 separate upgrades done in 2007. This totals approximately $200,000 in lost revenue to update just one piece of vital software. And we still don?t know if every machine is complete. With a software deployment suite, updates, patches, and software installs are sent out in a seamless effort over the network with NO IMPACT ON THE USER if configured right. With real time inventory management, you can see exactly how many machines were completed. Thus, bringing the company closer to a return on investment. The less the spend out of their budget, the more they get in their pocket at the end of the fiscal year. Keep padding your pockets @$$holes. It will just cost you later.

Craig_B
Craig_B

It seems these ?secrets? can be summed up under EGO based people. EGO based people blame others, steal credit and tend to be selfish. People who support others, tend to be helpful, respectful and responsible. At the end of the day the goal is to resolve problems and help people use the technology, if we focus on that, I believe we will all be in a better place.

dsteve2368
dsteve2368

Way to boil it all down to a few sentences. I have worked in many organizations, government and private and am now back in school. These 5 'secrets' apply in all areas of human relationships not just in IT.

GaryChernipeski
GaryChernipeski

My in-progress white paper on the subject is now called "The Rise of Divided IT" Your presentation highlights the issue -- that many of us continue to think of IT as a logical collection of all things information technology. This mistake leads to the 'dirty little secrets' you point out. The problem starts with organisational structure. CIO > IT Management > IT staff and Consultants. Because of this structure, budgets, accounting, and costing are easily broken. Here is a summary of fixes, see my paper for the details; FIX: IT Infrustructure Applications (ITIA) should be separate from IT Business Applications (ITBA). The budget for IT Infrustructure should come from facilities, and the management should report to the COO. FIX: IT Business Applications are those aspects of IT that respond to emerging business needs, directly enhance business value, and should be ENTIRELY paid for from the budgets of the business areas served. This is the group headed by the CIO. FIX: People that work for ITIA are often a different sort than ITBA folks. This is where you put your 'super geeks', 'old timers', 'hackers', etc. Here the incentive to maintain and improve legacy systems is high. Strict time management of projects is a liability, things in infrustructure should only roll out when they work! The metrics focus on up time, low costs, and technical performance over lengthy time periods. Here is where I take issue with a point in your video -- so what if legacy systems are kept going and going and going? Every year of service, is another year of savings when IT is divided this way. The folks who work here can talk in lingo all they like, because they rarely come into contact with the organisation or if they do it is likely someone from ITBA who should understand most of the lingo. Those who tire of this type of role, can seek transfer to a more people-facing role in ITBA. In my opinion these folks are being squeezed out of corporate IT at this time and the loss is going to be either tragic or catastrophic -- and definately costly. FIX: People that work for ITBA report on a day-to-day basis to the people in the business function they serve. Therefore it is a very bad idea to talk over people's heads and trying to obscure failure is essentially impossible. Only mature techonolgies eventually transfer to ITIA, and those people who wish to move away from a interact-with-user role can seek to move into ITIA as well. Metrics here are what the particular business managers make them to be. Most new hires into IT start here, and formal project management is used here. I believe this type of arrangement is the only way to 'save IT' and my inspiration comes from David Isen's 'Rise of the Stupid Network' which pointed out the only way ILECS could save themselves in the emerging Internet world.

mikejkemp
mikejkemp

One of the five dirty little secrets revolves around the aged; but you don't have to be 'old' and in a managerial position to restrict successful progress. How many recognise the 'application decisions' built, not on best and/or most effective tools for the job, but on the managers 'favourite' application sources. Decisions made because the manager and his close 'cronies' only know one source (frequently but not exclusively Microsoft) and won't entertain learning enough about other technologies to make a balanced judgement. These decisions can be just as disabling as those based only on 'out of date' knowledge.

rcaraway
rcaraway

I was disappointed about the references to the "legacy" systems and the IT Veterans, as well. You presented some very good ideas for allowing new and old to coexist. I'm sure I'll get flamed, and I have no qualification or even aspiration to be in a management level position, but will offer my personal picture of what a good CIO should do. I see this as much more of a PR position, regardless of whether or not they possess an IT background. I do believe it would be difficult to have been totally IT "ignorant". However, I also believe an "outsider" could easily step in and perform admirably. I believe the CIO should be the interface, if you will, between Business and IT. CIO listens to what Business wants/needs and presents this to IT. IT provides feedback regarding depth, feasibility, perhaps even cost estimates. I realize this is a gross generalization, with numerous intricasies left out, but this is my ideal description. The CIO provides the interpretation of Business lingo to IT and vice versa. I'll be the first to admit I don't like change. But, I will change under one of two possible scenarios : 1) You present reasonable evidence of the benefits and convince me that it is necessary and/or cost effective, overall. 2) You force me to via intimidation/threat, without any opportunity for discussion, aside from agreeing with your point of view. Unfortunately, I see more of the latter than the former. As far as contractor/consultant utilization, I believe the ultimate responsibility lies with IT/Business to lay the ground rules ahead of time, and then flex the "muscle" required to see that all parties follow through to completion. I have learned a vast amount from outside sources via knowledge transfer, and it was the result of good planning and an understanding of what was desired AND what would not be allowed. This planning made for a much more amicable, even profitable (Isn't that what we strive for?), relationship for all involved. Long story short, If it works, don't break it. Sorry if long and rambling. Thanks for the bandwidth! I'm done with the soapbox, now. Ron

karenc
karenc

when you p........ick a vid...eo pl....ayer applet could y...ou please pick one that buff....ers th.e vid..eo st....ream when pau....sed not much fun to read is it, even less fun when watching a video I can assure you, what I was trying to say was this when you pick a video player applet could you please pick one that buffers the video stream when paused and allows you to rewind from the beginning without restarting the download, something like youtube would be ideal, that way if the video does become jerky, pausing the playback will buffer the entire presentation locally and allow a smooth uninterrupted playback not everyone has the bandwidth to spare as it was I gave up watching after a minute as the breaks were too distracting

jwlindsey
jwlindsey

Low bandwidth is a problem for many of these streaming videos. One easy (cheap) solution is to press the "pause" button on the player to let the buffer partially (or completely) fill with content. Then press the play button. The video will play smoothly until the buffer empties.

GaryChernipeski
GaryChernipeski

Who is the consultant going to blame the IT department to? The company is paying the consultant to do something either they can do or not, and depending on the contract, they will not be fully paid for failure. On the other hand, salary staff will be paid failure or not! THE DIRTY LITTLE SECRET ABOUT YOUR DIRTY LITTLE SECRET is that a consultant has far less power to cause failure than the client itself. IF client personnel don't cooperate in a timely fashion the project will certainly derail from its schedule. If the client provides incorrect information the scope will certainly be wrong, as well as the functional specification. In my career this is almost always the case and I have remarked on numerous occasions that this is the 'real' reason consultants are generally paid more than staff IT -- because as a consultant YOU WILL be blamed for any failure, you will be blamed by IT to management, and management will almost CERTAINLY side with their own IT staff. Here is the way one president put it; "Gary you are probably right about almost everything you are telling me. But I can't take your side without risking the cohesiveness of my organisation which will cost the company more in the long run, so I am not going to take your side, and we are going to do it the way my people want it done even if its not the right way or the best way or even the lowest cost way". Suffice to say I think you got 1 exactly backwards.

teradude
teradude

When I heard that I too said "wha....?" I'm a consultant now with no bad stories thankfully, but I was in two major corp. IT depts nonstop before that, spanning 27 years. The truth is: the vendor or consultant has to stay mum, bite his tongue, let the inhouse IT staff take the credit for the fix, the diagnosis, whatever, that the vendor or consultant did. Every vendor I've worked with has a noble 'acceptance' that he will get no glory ever, and knows his work may go on a couple of staffers' accomplishments! In my case I would actually give credit to vendors on occasion to my manager or coworkers, and we in Teradata support treated our vendors [and contractors] as team members. I sense this is not done with other vendors. We never betrayed or double crossed our vendor team and in exchange we got 'inside info' on bugs found in other shops that were politically hot, and could grease the way for the vendor to get a CYA fix into the systems ASAP. Nonetheless, even in our shop it was easy to take the praise for 'coordinating the vendor' when he actually owned a P1 'down' system for example. If you are a CIO reading this, beware of a staffer who says a vendor stole 'his' work accomplishment.

RobarddeGuerre
RobarddeGuerre

IT Departments not claiming credit or pitching blame? I don't know what world Jason lives in but he surely must enter it through an old wardrobe in the closet. Gary is spot on about technology clients. IT departments are political hotbeds of blame and petty arrogance to begin with. Direct labor and managers spend more time trying to cut each others legs out from under them to get the few promotions available any more than producing quality services. Consultants are either brought in to support one side or another in some local p*ssing match, or as a cover for some home grown screw ups already implemented. The consultant is just another expendable in the constant bickering between sworn enemies and shifting alliances in a thoroughly passive-aggressive corporate tango. The real Dirty Little Secret about IT, is that IT Departments are corporate beings contending with manpower and budgetary in-fighting compounded by irrational ego-mania...pretty much like the rest of the corporation. Consultants are merely disposable collateral used to win corporate battles.

jtalbott
jtalbott

The consulting firm has very little juice and very little room to blame the client. At the same time it is their responsibility to advise their client on the best solution even when the client doesn't want to hear it. Hiner's comments on this seem further drive a wedge between clients and consultants that have a their client's best interest in mind. For one to go into a relationship with a consultant thinking they are going to get blamed is a mistake and counterproductive.

YourAverageManager
YourAverageManager

It was once pointed out to me that it really does not matter when it comes to excuses as to why things are going wrong when schedules, or goals and objectives are not being met. The executive leadership is looking at their management and can only see one team. Vendor, consultant or company employee, it simply does not matter, we all share the responsibility for failure and success. The manager is granted authority and control thus held responsible. Actively managing by removing barriers presented by the individual team members is preferable to presenting their excuses at a later date. Dealing with barriers that fall outside of ones authority means communicating the barrier up to the lowest management level where a decision can be made while it is still only a perceived barrier and not at a later point where it is interpreted as an excuse.

patrick
patrick

Another good one is I've been in the IT dept where a consultant installed a solution, worked great and the other techs spent the next week spouting about how there was "no way that would have worked with out us there" and that "we should have done that ourselves, there would have been less damage".

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

Ive seen consultants who work very hard to get the client's junior staff to amend requirements to suit the consultant as a few minor changes means the consultant can sell them something almost off the shelf that will do 98% of the original task, but getting that other 2% will mean a lot of hard work by the consultant. If the final project doesn't meat all the initial requirements set out by management, the consultants will often claim it failed because the junior corporate staff failed to provide all the help or information needed, despite the junior staff showing evidence of supplying everything the consultant asked for - reason for failure, the consultant didn't ask for everything needed or they asked the wrong questions. And that's the stuff you hire the consultant for. Sheet, if the staff already knew everything, you'd not hire the consultant in the first place. I've seen all those messes happen in real life. One place I worked at, I got to write the contract. We set out exactly what deliverables the final product had to deliver. No changes to deliverables without my signature. No payment without 100% of deliverables. The consultants all quoted high rates, we expected this as we KNEW to do the job they'd have to put in about 3,000 man hours of programming to amend the closest program they had. The consultant that got the job tried to fob off a 500 man hour product based on a statement made by one section where he convinced them that they only needed a much lower level of deliverable, so he made minor changes to the shelf product and presented that as the finished thing and billed us for the lot - expecting to make a killer profit. The finished product didn't meet contract and failed to meet the needs of two other departments he knew about but never spoke to. He ended up having to throw that bodgy job out and start again from scratch. He put the blame for the failed version back on the staff he convinced to get by with the cheaper answer, not a word about his two letters expounding the benefits of the lower coded version that failed to meet contract. We ended up with what we wanted and paid for it, but that guy had a bit of trouble explaining to his boss why the simple project went over time and over budget - I heard later that the small business concerned made it fit budget by cutting the consultant's (their regular employee) productivity bonus by the over spend.

bfitch
bfitch

I've worked both sides of the fence, Corporate IT for 10 years and now a consultant for 3 years. The IT manager will frequently blame the VAR for his departments short coming, I know we did, and since the IT manager generally decides who to use as a resource that same VARs reward is additional business. As a VAR some engineers doing the actual work will try to blame the customer or their infrastructure for a failure however it is the account manager or senior staff member that frequently "stops the buck" so to speak and finger pointing ends in the inter-office post job review meeting. --Bill

jcreek
jcreek

I have had number one happen to me. In our case consultants got paid whether the project was a success or a failure. They got paid for the number of hours they put in not the outcome of the project. This is the way most consultants that I have seen work in the US. So, I guess it depends on what your own experiences are that determine whether number one was right or wrong.

GaryChernipeski
GaryChernipeski

isn't the reason a consultant is hired to provide skills and resources lacking in the organisation? Even still, if you write the contract so failure is the same reward as success what do you expect? I would say a 50/50 chance of failure or better. I'm sure you are correctly repeating your experience, but that doesn't get the people in the organisation off the hook for writing up a 'failure' contract. IT isn't the only region of society almost completely devoid of visionary leadership. Nor is is the only place where the low-hanging fruit is blamed and 'fired' in the various forms that takes. I can't help thinking that if a failed project results in the consulting firm successfully blaming client, they are doing so with management support from the client -- probably often because it was that management that wrote and/or approved the 'failure' contract and its easier to let your own people take the blame than enter in to the reality check of bad leadership. And we haven't even discussed the "its nobody's fault" kung-foo stance. That one is very popular too I think. Not just in IT, I can think of all sorts of high-profile examples of that these days. As for a consulting firm taking all the credit for success -- that's really easy to vet. You call up the firm that paid them and ask them if it was a success. If it was its a fair boast. If it wasn't its a lie. You find one of those you have a firm the screws up and then lies about it. Hmmm another very popular stance.

rustty
rustty

I went into a multinational corporation as a Technical consultant - "The Job" Install a Proxy server with capacity for 4000 users. Arive and get handed a prerelease 180 day Technet demo CD of ISA Server 2000, then I was handed a pentium 4 1.4GHz socket 438 system with 2 IDE HDD's and a single onboard broadcom ether adaptor. ISA Single ethernet adaptor deployment had not been detailed by Microsoft or Jim of ISA-Server.Org fame. Advise the MIS & CIO that a quick install of Squid would do the job in about 4 hours - the CIO insisted that ISA was to be the company standard and that was that. I spent 7 working days getting it all sorted and running - it cost 1200.00 AU$ per day + Taxes. For the total value of the job I could have provided change as in cash left over and purchased a proven solution with support. I went on to work for this company as their sole consulting engineer on all things AD, WAN, LAN & Hardware. They got bought out and now the same fool MIS is screwing another multinational IT Department by relying on a single entity for his entire infrastructure guidence I have seen everything mentioned in this video first hand and applaude the speakier for bringing to public attention

dcolbert
dcolbert

I've got to agree. I've worked with a lot of consultants here. They're paid boatloads of money to come in and point out the obvious and provide a recommendation and implementation report that often doesn't take into consideration the practical implications of making their changes in a production environment, then they leave it up to the IT department to succeed or fail with implementation. If IT fails, it isn't the recommendations or the failure of the consultant to take into consideration real world challenges, it is the IT Department didn't have the skill to actually implement the solution. How do you fix that? Bring the consultant back in! What a sweet gig, if you don't mind the travel. Obviously, this isn't universal. There are some consulting groups that have very skilled individuals. They can be a great bridge to skills that a company cannot afford or justify full time. And I'm certain that IT departments DO contribute to the problems as described. It is a two way street, and there are certainly incompetents on both sides making things worse for everyone involved.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

The non current tech IT manager will buy the new software or hardware based on which gives him the biggest kickback of freebies. I've seen many an IT shopped destroyed by this and its brother: The ex tech IT manager will buy only the hardware and software that he's used to working with, even if that company is now only supplying garbage. The list is very true and very good.

SObaldrick
SObaldrick

An IT manager for a startup company in the North West brought in Sun hardware and BridgePoint software development tools because he was buddies with the salesperson selling this stuff. Now BridgePoint is a rare and unusual modeling development tool that never caught on to the extent it should have. It was well ahead of its time and meant learning a whole new paradigm to the way software is developed. He brought me to the NW from the East coast, because I was one of the few people he could find with BridgePoint experience. Needless to say the developers refused to use it, instead they used traditional Java development tools, his buddy left the company that sold the stuff to us, and I ended up in a job where my skills were not wanted. That had to be the absolute worst IT manager I have ever experienced .. I doubt he could even spell IT. Les.

Top.Gun
Top.Gun

Freebies and taking care of personal 'friends' by purchasing from them are the biggest problems I've seen. It's amazing how an IT department's effectiveness can be ruined by one manager or VP who does this.