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New IT manager

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New IT manager

terryd
I just recently got promoted to be the IT manager for 5 stores. I also help out in the one store that I'm stationed in by putting stock away, doing receiving on occasion and helping wherever needed.

I was wondering if any of you had any suggestions or ideas on how to do the job effectively.

My biggest problem is that I'm not the greatest in being organized/time management.
  • +
    0 Votes
    deetee2000

    That you should be given a position like this as an afterthought rather than some sort of rational planning. Looks like IT is treated in most organisations as something akin to janitorial work! The best way to do the job effectively is to be totally focussed on it. I mean, how are you expected to provide a five year plan to develop the IT infrastructure in line with business growth, when you're out stacking shelves?! (By the way, I don't mean to demean the jobs of receiving or shelf-stacking...I'm just going off on a rant!) :)

    +
    0 Votes

    lol

    terryd

    since i was familiar with computers and was already working for the company was a big part of why i got the job.

    the way the job is currently setup is that there isn't always enough to keep me busy with the job for the full day so that's why i still have some of my previous jobs to do.

    the computer part of the business is something that is still fairly new to the place so it's not exactly given a whole lot of priority

    +
    0 Votes
    it.padawan

    I, too, struggle with organization/time management. The first thing I did when I started back to school was purchase a planner to aid in this. Of course, the second thing I did was lose the planner ^_^ . I have found, however, that a white board or cork board where you can write or pin up the tasks you need to accomplish right out where you can see them seems to help me. I color code the tasks with sticky notes for prioritizing. (I use the sticky notes because they can be removed and re-arranged if I need to change priorities) This, in combination with the calendar in Outlook and my cell-phone organizer that "calls" me with alerts, seems to help me keep the worst of the fires under control.

    This situation is somewhat similar to where I work. We have 15-20 computers on a network and I'm not really sure there's anyone here who knows how the whole thing works. We had an IT specialist for about a year, but there wasn't enough to keep her busy in computers so she was assigned receiving tasks and busy work. Needless to say, she moved on and we are up the proverbial excrement creek without the usual form of locomotion. I'm very interested to see the suggestions on how to handle this situation.

    +
    0 Votes
    Dr Dij

    you'd have a network / pc consulting service on call in this case.

    +
    0 Votes
    it.padawan

    unfortunately, that kind of thing costs money
    and, as we recycle (as in re-use until they fall completely apart under the duct tape) old file folders, report covers...you get the picture :-)

    +
    0 Votes
    peter.wright

    The info is a little vague to come up with solid suggestions, however:
    1 - If the IT landscape is too small for full time IT, can you add the phone system, fax machines etc (often these are pushed towards IT).
    2 - What is your skill depth? It may be extremely usefull to have a consultant available (familiar with your system) in case of emergencies beyond your depth.
    3 - Document your system (called a Configuration Management Database in ITIL) so that you know what you have. This will be very useful for a)any consultant and b)Management (to show them what they have).
    4 - Sort out your backup, and document it! Be assured that if the system goes pear shaped, you will be the first in line! Any consultant would also need this in case of emergency.
    5 - Log Calls. Keep track of calls and separate into Service (requests) and Incidents (where the system broke).

    From these you will be able to:
    a) Show Management what you do (1 & 5)
    b) show Management that you need training (1, 2 & 5)
    c) Arrange for replacement of redundant hardware/software upgrades (1, 3 & 4)
    d) Relax a little more as you have the bases covered (2, 3 &4)

    I could go on.....

    +
    0 Votes
    wrey

    I could not agree more on all the suggestions that peter has. In addition to this, I would recommend meeting with your store managers and buying department and see what IT tools would make achieve their sales goals easier/faster, like inventory reports, sku movement, sales per hour, 10/80 report. All of these are retail tools that could help the success of your company and make you look more than a glorify help desk, not offence, but that is what it sounds from your post. One more thing, base in my retail IT experience, in retail there is always things that you can do to save money to your company, like better telephone/broadband rates, better IT supplies rates, and finally work on your IT budget!

    +
    0 Votes
    mmathewson

    I am the network administrator at our company and, like in any small company, I wear many, many hats. I manage day-to-day tasks and do backups but the IT area is not my main job. We have an arrangement with a local IT support shop that if we have problems, they can manage it from a remote access account. Sometimes they charge and other times, if its a simple fix, they won't. They will also make on site calls if necessary, at a going rate. It's a nice arrangement for us, and one you might look into.

    You, or the boss, will have to ask yourselves how much will it cost in lost productivity and income, should a piece, or all of your network fail? If your business relies heavily on your IT assets for the bulk of your revenue, then you have to have a good, fast response, service organization in place when needed, outside of what you can provide inside.

    +
    0 Votes
    Tig2

    I have a desk pad/calendar that allows me to use a colour coded guide to appointment setting.

    You need to have your stores set up on a rotation schedule that you manage weekly to just do an "eyes on" check to insure that you are familiar with the setups and do some one on one time with employees to answer questions/concerns. The schedule will help you to keep those tasks on track- If it's Tuesday, I go to store 1 and 2, Wednesday is store 3 on my way in, Thursday is store 4 and 5.

    After a couple of weeks of this, you will know what time it takes from your day to do and can then add additional tasks.

    I use a PDA to insure that I know where I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to be doing. I find it VERY helpful.

    Good luck in your new role!

    +
    0 Votes
    iainbuchanan

    Your job may just be undoable. Is your work load realistic? If not then all the time management in the world will not help. You need to sit down and prioritise your work load. Rank order the most important tasks and alocate time frames, remember that it should get easier with practice. If you are constantly being pulled of the job to attend to something else then you need to talk to your boss about what he/she expects from you. If you are in a no win situation then consider whether it is worth it, something's gotta give!

    +
    0 Votes
    c.stackhouse

    I usally see whats cooking on Mondays. Always a bunch of questions to answer from store.
    Tuedays go to farthest store first to get out of way. Then work issues closer to home.
    Keep journal of everything and date and time and person spoke to about problem to cya.
    www.9dollarsolution.com/?=hub10701

    +
    0 Votes
    Izak Visser

    This is a situation everybody has to deal with whenever you're assigned a new post, got a promotion or a new job. The positive aspect to consider is that you got there through skill, hard work and dedication. Here are a few general tips.
    Follow the OODA Principle: Observation, Orientation, Decision, and Action.
    Observation: Spend day or two to just observe what colleagues/clients expect of you.
    Orientation: Orient yourself to your new working environment; make sure your technical/administrative documentation is up to date, your support personnel?s telephone/pager/fax numbers and E-mail addresses are close at hand, and your office setup is organized the way you feel you will perform most efficiently and with the least amount of stress. Also make sure that you get your lunch breaks, teatimes, whatever in. Remember, stress causes Adrenaline to pump through your veins; this causes vasodilatation, increase in gross motor skills and a decrease in fine thinking i.e. your primitive brain takes over which can cause you to make mistakes.
    Decision: Start identifying shortcomings in your department and analyze them. Research means to alleviate or solve these shortcomings, Make decisions based on your research/Previous experience.
    And finally Action: Take action as soon as possible. Put everything your doing on paper. And solve the direst problems first.
    PM me if you would like to have some more positive advice.

    +
    0 Votes
    patncadmin

    I took Mike Sisco's IT Management Institute Class (mde.net/institute) and it helped me learn some of the tricks people mention here. It's helped me be successful in understanding business issues which make me more valuable to my CEO than I would otherwise have been.

    +
    0 Votes
    RKSCDRI

    Dear Terryd,
    In place of helping in stock management, please do sit down on the computer system try to analyse as per the bills raised and find out that which are itms yours customers (Sex wise) purchased during a period, there must be some correlation in the items, so find out the correlation and stack those item near by. This pattern will change category wise (student/serving women/house wife) and then season wise.
    So you will not have time for any thing else.
    And this exercise will Boost the sales of your departmental store 10-40%. This is what expected from you-- Real IT contribution in SALES. Hope u could understood What I am trying to say,
    Good Work, BYE
    RK Sharma

    +
    0 Votes
    MavMin2

    Do you do windows and serve coffee as well? It reminds me of a job I saw advertised back in my college days. They wanted you to be able to work all shifts, be completely familar with all aspects of the company and willing to work overtime all for a whopping $1.25 over minimum wage. Consequently, I did not apply.

    While we have a dedicated IT department it was often tough to get funding because many of the former CEOs were not computer literate and failed to see the need. With a reorganization, we are no longer in that kind of arrangement and I anticipate better things but until your folks see the real scope of IT in their business you might just want to increase your knowledge and move on.

    I wear many hats in a non-profit organization besides my FT job and if there is one thing I have learned in the last thirty years the more hats you wear the less efficient you are in any of the areas you cover. You will spend more time in the one area you love and the others will become catch is as catch can. Even if that works for your Boss you will get frustrated knowing that there is more you could have/should have done in the other areas if you only had the time.

    Work to educate the Boss in the need for you to be FT IT or move on to where you can be.

    Best wishes!

    +
    0 Votes
    TNT@support

    I agree with many of the posts here, and in some regard am echoing them. I recommend taking a look around and determining what will and will not be a part of IT. I would include:

    ? Server maintenance, upgrades, procurement and installation
    ? PC support, maintenance, upgrades, procurement and installation
    ? Evaluate in-house software and its competitors and make decisions about what the company should be using to accomplish its goals.
    ? User support and training
    ? Network backbone (wired and wireless) evaluation and improvement (improve speed, access points, etc.)
    ? WAN (if one exists) evaluation and improvement
    ? Point-Of Sale systems (if networked) maintenance and user training
    ? Monitoring/configuring backups
    ? Phone system, including intercom.
    ? Light electrical troubleshooting (being able to determine blown breakers, reset UPS and surge protectors, replace power cords on Monitors and PC?s, etc.)
    ? Systems and procedure documentation

    Doing all of this for 5 stores is a full time job already, but there is more to it than even this. As IT.Padawan pointed out I would make a list, or a schedule really, of when you will perform server maintenance at each store, when you will diagnose PC?s, POS?s, the network, keep regular office hours for user support, etc.

    Peter.Wright?s advice is invaluable as well. Document every piece of equipment, every piece of software used, every Admin username and password (keep it well protected!), and every action you take to resolve problems or make improvements. Also, think about what you would want every end-user to know and develop training for them. A savy user group is a big help to you. And, as per Izak.Visser, keep a list of phone and fax numbers nearby. You should be able to reach anyone in the company at any given time in case of an emergency. In the case of a disaster fruits and vegetables can be replaced, your data can?t. Sometimes being able to reach people is the most significant part of your job, especially if it?s an outsource IT company partnering with you to maintain the infrastructure (highly recommended).

    I think once you start making a list of all that you are responsible for, and prioritizing that list, you?ll find you have very little time to help with receiving and stocking. I wish you the best and don?t hesitate to hit me up if you need anything.

    +
    0 Votes
    pete

    You have received some really good feedback on technical items you should be focusing on so I won't waste your time reiterating them. I will just point out that whenever you are new to a position it takes a while to really figure out all the things you will be responsible for. While you're figuring that out, it is very tempting to be a 'nice guy (or gal)' and help out wherever you can, however there are two problems with this:
    1) Eventually your plate WILL fill up with honest to God IT stuff, and when that happens, the folks that are currently patting you on the back aren't going to say, "Gee it was great that you were so willing to help out when you had time, good luck with the IT issues that are now overfilling your plate!" What they will probably say is, "Gee you USED to be a real asset to the business helping us all out, making sales, and now all you do is piddle away at that IT stuff!" and
    2) When you spend an inordinate amount of your time doing non-IT functions, the implication is either a) There's not a lot of IT stuff to do around here so we really only need a part-time IT person, or b) You must be pretty incompetent if they don't realize all the IT stuff that's not getting done and they are spending all their time doing other stuff.

    Bottom line, unless you aspire to be an small business entrepreneur, or a sales type, stick to doing IT work.

    +
    0 Votes
    Izak Visser

    The obvious problem with this is that you set an unrealistic expectation from your employers and you generally become a jack of all trades. I couldn?t agree with Pete more on this one. Be extremely careful not to be too nice. It has taken me 3 years to shake that title and to be left to do IT work and not the general stuff that nobody else wants to bother with. It is only you problem if you make it your problem.

    +
    0 Votes
    rbarton

    1. Document and organize everything; equipment, OS types, the network, etc. Even if you are not good with organization and documentation, work at it. You will get better. These are not items you are taught in school, you have to learn them. Both will save you some day.
    2. Listen first, talk second.
    3. Knowing where to find that answer is more important than knowing the answer.

  • +
    0 Votes
    deetee2000

    That you should be given a position like this as an afterthought rather than some sort of rational planning. Looks like IT is treated in most organisations as something akin to janitorial work! The best way to do the job effectively is to be totally focussed on it. I mean, how are you expected to provide a five year plan to develop the IT infrastructure in line with business growth, when you're out stacking shelves?! (By the way, I don't mean to demean the jobs of receiving or shelf-stacking...I'm just going off on a rant!) :)

    +
    0 Votes

    lol

    terryd

    since i was familiar with computers and was already working for the company was a big part of why i got the job.

    the way the job is currently setup is that there isn't always enough to keep me busy with the job for the full day so that's why i still have some of my previous jobs to do.

    the computer part of the business is something that is still fairly new to the place so it's not exactly given a whole lot of priority

    +
    0 Votes
    it.padawan

    I, too, struggle with organization/time management. The first thing I did when I started back to school was purchase a planner to aid in this. Of course, the second thing I did was lose the planner ^_^ . I have found, however, that a white board or cork board where you can write or pin up the tasks you need to accomplish right out where you can see them seems to help me. I color code the tasks with sticky notes for prioritizing. (I use the sticky notes because they can be removed and re-arranged if I need to change priorities) This, in combination with the calendar in Outlook and my cell-phone organizer that "calls" me with alerts, seems to help me keep the worst of the fires under control.

    This situation is somewhat similar to where I work. We have 15-20 computers on a network and I'm not really sure there's anyone here who knows how the whole thing works. We had an IT specialist for about a year, but there wasn't enough to keep her busy in computers so she was assigned receiving tasks and busy work. Needless to say, she moved on and we are up the proverbial excrement creek without the usual form of locomotion. I'm very interested to see the suggestions on how to handle this situation.

    +
    0 Votes
    Dr Dij

    you'd have a network / pc consulting service on call in this case.

    +
    0 Votes
    it.padawan

    unfortunately, that kind of thing costs money
    and, as we recycle (as in re-use until they fall completely apart under the duct tape) old file folders, report covers...you get the picture :-)

    +
    0 Votes
    peter.wright

    The info is a little vague to come up with solid suggestions, however:
    1 - If the IT landscape is too small for full time IT, can you add the phone system, fax machines etc (often these are pushed towards IT).
    2 - What is your skill depth? It may be extremely usefull to have a consultant available (familiar with your system) in case of emergencies beyond your depth.
    3 - Document your system (called a Configuration Management Database in ITIL) so that you know what you have. This will be very useful for a)any consultant and b)Management (to show them what they have).
    4 - Sort out your backup, and document it! Be assured that if the system goes pear shaped, you will be the first in line! Any consultant would also need this in case of emergency.
    5 - Log Calls. Keep track of calls and separate into Service (requests) and Incidents (where the system broke).

    From these you will be able to:
    a) Show Management what you do (1 & 5)
    b) show Management that you need training (1, 2 & 5)
    c) Arrange for replacement of redundant hardware/software upgrades (1, 3 & 4)
    d) Relax a little more as you have the bases covered (2, 3 &4)

    I could go on.....

    +
    0 Votes
    wrey

    I could not agree more on all the suggestions that peter has. In addition to this, I would recommend meeting with your store managers and buying department and see what IT tools would make achieve their sales goals easier/faster, like inventory reports, sku movement, sales per hour, 10/80 report. All of these are retail tools that could help the success of your company and make you look more than a glorify help desk, not offence, but that is what it sounds from your post. One more thing, base in my retail IT experience, in retail there is always things that you can do to save money to your company, like better telephone/broadband rates, better IT supplies rates, and finally work on your IT budget!

    +
    0 Votes
    mmathewson

    I am the network administrator at our company and, like in any small company, I wear many, many hats. I manage day-to-day tasks and do backups but the IT area is not my main job. We have an arrangement with a local IT support shop that if we have problems, they can manage it from a remote access account. Sometimes they charge and other times, if its a simple fix, they won't. They will also make on site calls if necessary, at a going rate. It's a nice arrangement for us, and one you might look into.

    You, or the boss, will have to ask yourselves how much will it cost in lost productivity and income, should a piece, or all of your network fail? If your business relies heavily on your IT assets for the bulk of your revenue, then you have to have a good, fast response, service organization in place when needed, outside of what you can provide inside.

    +
    0 Votes
    Tig2

    I have a desk pad/calendar that allows me to use a colour coded guide to appointment setting.

    You need to have your stores set up on a rotation schedule that you manage weekly to just do an "eyes on" check to insure that you are familiar with the setups and do some one on one time with employees to answer questions/concerns. The schedule will help you to keep those tasks on track- If it's Tuesday, I go to store 1 and 2, Wednesday is store 3 on my way in, Thursday is store 4 and 5.

    After a couple of weeks of this, you will know what time it takes from your day to do and can then add additional tasks.

    I use a PDA to insure that I know where I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to be doing. I find it VERY helpful.

    Good luck in your new role!

    +
    0 Votes
    iainbuchanan

    Your job may just be undoable. Is your work load realistic? If not then all the time management in the world will not help. You need to sit down and prioritise your work load. Rank order the most important tasks and alocate time frames, remember that it should get easier with practice. If you are constantly being pulled of the job to attend to something else then you need to talk to your boss about what he/she expects from you. If you are in a no win situation then consider whether it is worth it, something's gotta give!

    +
    0 Votes
    c.stackhouse

    I usally see whats cooking on Mondays. Always a bunch of questions to answer from store.
    Tuedays go to farthest store first to get out of way. Then work issues closer to home.
    Keep journal of everything and date and time and person spoke to about problem to cya.
    www.9dollarsolution.com/?=hub10701

    +
    0 Votes
    Izak Visser

    This is a situation everybody has to deal with whenever you're assigned a new post, got a promotion or a new job. The positive aspect to consider is that you got there through skill, hard work and dedication. Here are a few general tips.
    Follow the OODA Principle: Observation, Orientation, Decision, and Action.
    Observation: Spend day or two to just observe what colleagues/clients expect of you.
    Orientation: Orient yourself to your new working environment; make sure your technical/administrative documentation is up to date, your support personnel?s telephone/pager/fax numbers and E-mail addresses are close at hand, and your office setup is organized the way you feel you will perform most efficiently and with the least amount of stress. Also make sure that you get your lunch breaks, teatimes, whatever in. Remember, stress causes Adrenaline to pump through your veins; this causes vasodilatation, increase in gross motor skills and a decrease in fine thinking i.e. your primitive brain takes over which can cause you to make mistakes.
    Decision: Start identifying shortcomings in your department and analyze them. Research means to alleviate or solve these shortcomings, Make decisions based on your research/Previous experience.
    And finally Action: Take action as soon as possible. Put everything your doing on paper. And solve the direst problems first.
    PM me if you would like to have some more positive advice.

    +
    0 Votes
    patncadmin

    I took Mike Sisco's IT Management Institute Class (mde.net/institute) and it helped me learn some of the tricks people mention here. It's helped me be successful in understanding business issues which make me more valuable to my CEO than I would otherwise have been.

    +
    0 Votes
    RKSCDRI

    Dear Terryd,
    In place of helping in stock management, please do sit down on the computer system try to analyse as per the bills raised and find out that which are itms yours customers (Sex wise) purchased during a period, there must be some correlation in the items, so find out the correlation and stack those item near by. This pattern will change category wise (student/serving women/house wife) and then season wise.
    So you will not have time for any thing else.
    And this exercise will Boost the sales of your departmental store 10-40%. This is what expected from you-- Real IT contribution in SALES. Hope u could understood What I am trying to say,
    Good Work, BYE
    RK Sharma

    +
    0 Votes
    MavMin2

    Do you do windows and serve coffee as well? It reminds me of a job I saw advertised back in my college days. They wanted you to be able to work all shifts, be completely familar with all aspects of the company and willing to work overtime all for a whopping $1.25 over minimum wage. Consequently, I did not apply.

    While we have a dedicated IT department it was often tough to get funding because many of the former CEOs were not computer literate and failed to see the need. With a reorganization, we are no longer in that kind of arrangement and I anticipate better things but until your folks see the real scope of IT in their business you might just want to increase your knowledge and move on.

    I wear many hats in a non-profit organization besides my FT job and if there is one thing I have learned in the last thirty years the more hats you wear the less efficient you are in any of the areas you cover. You will spend more time in the one area you love and the others will become catch is as catch can. Even if that works for your Boss you will get frustrated knowing that there is more you could have/should have done in the other areas if you only had the time.

    Work to educate the Boss in the need for you to be FT IT or move on to where you can be.

    Best wishes!

    +
    0 Votes
    TNT@support

    I agree with many of the posts here, and in some regard am echoing them. I recommend taking a look around and determining what will and will not be a part of IT. I would include:

    ? Server maintenance, upgrades, procurement and installation
    ? PC support, maintenance, upgrades, procurement and installation
    ? Evaluate in-house software and its competitors and make decisions about what the company should be using to accomplish its goals.
    ? User support and training
    ? Network backbone (wired and wireless) evaluation and improvement (improve speed, access points, etc.)
    ? WAN (if one exists) evaluation and improvement
    ? Point-Of Sale systems (if networked) maintenance and user training
    ? Monitoring/configuring backups
    ? Phone system, including intercom.
    ? Light electrical troubleshooting (being able to determine blown breakers, reset UPS and surge protectors, replace power cords on Monitors and PC?s, etc.)
    ? Systems and procedure documentation

    Doing all of this for 5 stores is a full time job already, but there is more to it than even this. As IT.Padawan pointed out I would make a list, or a schedule really, of when you will perform server maintenance at each store, when you will diagnose PC?s, POS?s, the network, keep regular office hours for user support, etc.

    Peter.Wright?s advice is invaluable as well. Document every piece of equipment, every piece of software used, every Admin username and password (keep it well protected!), and every action you take to resolve problems or make improvements. Also, think about what you would want every end-user to know and develop training for them. A savy user group is a big help to you. And, as per Izak.Visser, keep a list of phone and fax numbers nearby. You should be able to reach anyone in the company at any given time in case of an emergency. In the case of a disaster fruits and vegetables can be replaced, your data can?t. Sometimes being able to reach people is the most significant part of your job, especially if it?s an outsource IT company partnering with you to maintain the infrastructure (highly recommended).

    I think once you start making a list of all that you are responsible for, and prioritizing that list, you?ll find you have very little time to help with receiving and stocking. I wish you the best and don?t hesitate to hit me up if you need anything.

    +
    0 Votes
    pete

    You have received some really good feedback on technical items you should be focusing on so I won't waste your time reiterating them. I will just point out that whenever you are new to a position it takes a while to really figure out all the things you will be responsible for. While you're figuring that out, it is very tempting to be a 'nice guy (or gal)' and help out wherever you can, however there are two problems with this:
    1) Eventually your plate WILL fill up with honest to God IT stuff, and when that happens, the folks that are currently patting you on the back aren't going to say, "Gee it was great that you were so willing to help out when you had time, good luck with the IT issues that are now overfilling your plate!" What they will probably say is, "Gee you USED to be a real asset to the business helping us all out, making sales, and now all you do is piddle away at that IT stuff!" and
    2) When you spend an inordinate amount of your time doing non-IT functions, the implication is either a) There's not a lot of IT stuff to do around here so we really only need a part-time IT person, or b) You must be pretty incompetent if they don't realize all the IT stuff that's not getting done and they are spending all their time doing other stuff.

    Bottom line, unless you aspire to be an small business entrepreneur, or a sales type, stick to doing IT work.

    +
    0 Votes
    Izak Visser

    The obvious problem with this is that you set an unrealistic expectation from your employers and you generally become a jack of all trades. I couldn?t agree with Pete more on this one. Be extremely careful not to be too nice. It has taken me 3 years to shake that title and to be left to do IT work and not the general stuff that nobody else wants to bother with. It is only you problem if you make it your problem.

    +
    0 Votes
    rbarton

    1. Document and organize everything; equipment, OS types, the network, etc. Even if you are not good with organization and documentation, work at it. You will get better. These are not items you are taught in school, you have to learn them. Both will save you some day.
    2. Listen first, talk second.
    3. Knowing where to find that answer is more important than knowing the answer.