What do you consider the biggest challenge in a small — or even one-person — IT shop, and how do you handle it?
I've always been a one-person IT shop, providing the sole support for upward of three dozen people. Such a position can certainly have its advantages, but there's always the flip side of the same coin — those dreadful disadvantages.
Here's a list of just a few:• No one to bounce ideas off of: It sometimes helps to think out loud, so to speak, and get some feedback from someone who understands what you're doing. Not having someone around like that might make some people talk to themselves. • No one to pass work on to: It would be nice to have another person to help during the heavy work-load cycles. There's plenty of idle time in a small shop, to be sure, but those busy times can be a real drag. • Keeping informed with the latest and greatest technology: People often do this in the course of normal conversation. To get around this, I spend an enormous amount of time online, reading from any number of sources. But instead of making my purchases online, I prefer a local computer superstore — and a few select individuals working there whom I've gotten to know. Of course, not all sales representatives are all that knowledgeable, but I've picked out a few of the best. We'll always discuss the latest and greatest whenever I go in to make a purchase. And, of course, this is the very thing that brought me to TechRepublic about ten years ago. • Having to be available at (almost) everyone's beck and call: Taking days off and vacations often requires coordination with others, making sure things are covered in case of an emergency and so on. It would be nice to take time away without having to have a contingency plan for every little thing, and having another person to just handle it would be nice. • Not knowing something: Who do you ask and what do you do if faced with a perplexing issue and an elusive answer? This is especially troubling when a user is left hanging. I suppose the way I deal with this one is to not be afraid to admit that I just don't know something. In such cases, finding a way around a problem might be the best temporary fix rather than fixing it.
How about you? What do you see as the biggest issues in a small IT shop — or a one-person shop — and how do you deal with them?