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Web Development - Part of IT?

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Web Development - Part of IT?

shernandez
I have an interesting situation with a new web development position we are hiring for. We are a small company so many of us wear multiple hats. After fighting for the approval to get a person hired for the IT department to help develop our website, I am suddenly informed that this person will not be reporting to me but to another team that works on analytical software development, based on the fact that it is software (web) development, and that should not be part of IT. Am I being power hungry or does software development fall under a different department other than IT?

Samuel
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    jmgarvin

    Software development can be a separate portion of the business. However, in small companies, software dev and IT are usually one in the same for simplicity.

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    stress junkie

    I would definitely put web page development in a software developers' group, not a system administrators' group. It seems self evident to me. A web developer will interact with system administrators in exactly the same ways as other software developers. Any software developer may present requirements for their project to the system support group to install specific development or run time tools, fonts, directory structures with specific access parameters, et. al. I can see no difference between web development, database administration, and in house application development.

    This can actually be good for maintaining a robust computer environment. Software developers typically do not have the broad view of system configuration requirements that the system administrators are likely to have. The two groups typically have very different values and goals. The software developers typically maintain a very narrow view of the computer systems on which their project will be developed or run. They may be inclined to make rash decisions based on their project requirements without regard to maintaining the computer function required by other people. This is where the system administrators can protect the system function from damage by rash decisions made by software developers. If the software developers require the participation of system administrators to reconfigure the computer systems then the system administrators have the opportunity to evaluate the change requirements and discover potential problems that could arise from making the changes required by the software developers.

    For example, let's say that you have already got some critical applications in place. These applications run with a particular version of Java virtual machine. The web developer wants to use a particular new tool that requires a new version of Java. The web developer doesn't bother to consider that an upgrade to the new Java version may break the applications that are already in place and that require the current version of Java. Any software developer with system administrator privilege may decide that their project deadline does not permit them the time to research and test the new version of Java with the current application environment and may upgrade Java on his/her own. Now when the current applications don't run properly you face end user down time that didn't have to happen.

    If the web developer were in the system administrators' group s/he would almost certainly be given access to system administration privileges. That is a recipe for disaster. Having software developers and system administrators in different groups where the system administrators act as a check against rash system reconfiguration by the software developers helps to maintain dependable systems for the end users. You do not want to combine any software development activity with system administration.

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    shernandez

    I agree that software developers do not always have the broad view of the overall system requirements of an environment as you mentioned, but this is usally caused by their point of view. I believe, however, that this is another reason why its good to have this position in the IT department. It's our job to make sure things keep running. Why not design things with that in mind from the get go. In any other department, the priority will be to just get it done. Then you end up wasting countless hours troubleshooting, maintaining, or shoe-horning the solution in to fit. That doesn't seem as effecient or cost effective.

    IT is also responsible for the implementation of new hardwre and software. Its not the developers who install and maintain this stuff. Larger organizations require the use of enterprise level management tools such as SAP, MAS 90, PeopleSoft, Oracle, etc.?it is the responsibility of the IT department to make sure these systems are operational and provide useful information. This inevitably requires software development to modify reports, GUI, functionality, work flow, etc. These teams almost always fall under the IT department, especially web application development teams, as more and more IT tools are moving to a ASP.NET model where both internal and external applications are run over the web. The line between software development and technology in this context very quickly disappears.

    In regards to the soft. dev. guys having sys admin access. that is very easy to fix. Just because someone's in the IT deparment doesn't mean they belong in the administrators group.

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    rdube

    I think it all depends on the size of the company,if the company is big enough to have IT and Software development departments,which sounds like it's the case here,then web development falls under software development.

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    pmetcalf

    I sense you simplified this to get support for your point. Since small companies under 50 have IT departments of like 2 heads, I'll assume your company creates and sells software as a product or supporting Manufactured Part of an Assembly. Indeed there are politics going on here as well. It appears you were not rewarded for your fight to get someone (and you did, congrats!). Web Site Development is like 25% of creating a web site. Perhaps there is a bigwig who knows this and is actually hiring for more of a Marketing or Sales slant. That's what SMB web sites are for, except for companies who invest adequately in their site and create an after sales support area. I just picked up a great book about company politics off Amazon called "Provocative Business Change" by John A Honeycutt, so I have my business turf hat on right now.

    Mix into that pot the fact that I work (programmer) for a retail company (2300 employees) where the web site is completely developed by the Marketing department. We have our disagreements, they require in-depth support (DBA, Infrastructure, etc), but they have their own budget and have to buy what the company needs themselves.

    This got long, thanks for letting me vent.

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    slicer777

    I'll start by saying Web developers are software developers, but they can also be so much more, mostly depending on the size of the company and the size of the IT department.

    Now when I say IT department, I come from a company that has one IT division with a Web department in addition to networking, development, DBA, and production operations.

    I head up the web department and the development department is mostly PeopleSoft developers. Me and my staff are responsible for creating Web apps including the databases that go with them and specifying the setup of the web servers, so we cross from Web development to DBA to sys admins. That's why we are in our own department, our skills span too many areas to fit in any of the others.

    My point is that it really depends on where you are and where the skills are located to do the job.

    For contrast, I've even been a places where the Web developers were part of the Marketing department.

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    frostbite

    As most of the posters have commented, for an SMB, it strikes us as strange that you have multiple "IT" function departments.

    That being said, you may want to review the objectives of your own department and compare that with the objectives of the web developer position.


    If it runs within your department objectives then most likely it should be within your department.

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    Lost_in_NY

    As long as we're talking about applications development and not content or 'master data' creation, then it should be under a common IT management structure with all other technical functions that support the hardware and software for the business. .

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    John Forbes

    I curious if your software development doesn't sit within IT - where does it sit?

    We have had internal debates about whether web developers should be in the IT department (with software development) or in the communications team which is responsible for website content. Seems to come down to whther the job is mainly mark-up & graphic design (comms), or whether it involves some element of programming e.g forms database access (IT).

    If your your 'IT' department is only responsible for operational / infrastructure issues then it is n't the write place for a web developer.

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    blckspder

    Our Software developer is in the Engineering dept. to work closely with the systems that our engineers build.
    However as of late. The managers are talking of moving our software developer to the IT dept. This is because the engineering dept. has been keeping track of support for the programs and has not set up a proper system to make sure everything is managed correctly when it comes to the software created. A problem the managers hope we can fix by bringing the developer into our department.

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    christian

    Regardless of the fact that the requirement for web development skills comes from your department, this resource should be placed within the team best capabable of managing their skills and the project(s) on which they are working.

    It is likely that the team/department manager who looks after 'analytical software development' will be running a structure more suited to the requirements gathering and development process, and will have progress reporting procedures in place to ensure that the developer is using their time effectively.

    Furthermore, when your site is complete, and is entering the maintenance phase, the software development group is best placed to:

    1) Ensure that the skills for maintaining the site are transferred and shared within a team of competent developers.

    2) Ensure that the project is effectively documented.

    3) Identify other projects where this developer skills may be applied.

    In short, Yes - you are being power hungry - unless you have considerable experience in manageing software development teams, leave development to the group assigned to this work and use them as a service to you.

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    shernandez

    Great response. One of the reasons for fighting for this position in my mind is because our SAS programming department does such a poor job of managing the overall scope of software development. Nearly all of their time is spent on improving the efficiency or accuracy of their programs versus making sure it all fits in the grand scheme of things. Projects are not well documented, processes are unorganized and somewhat uncontrolled. Of course there are many aspects in which this is not the case but the overall picture is this way.

    That being said, it is important for the company that this website developement is done correctly, securely, and positioned for growth. I have my doubts it will happen in the current soft. dev team.

    If we are talking management, then it is safe to say that one does not necesarily need to have the technical skills required to complete the tasks but the skills to manage them. A good manager will determine the necessary tasks that must be completed and the proper methods to measure them, along with the other points you made. You don't need to be a programmer to do this effectively.

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    jmartin

    The purpose of most websites are for marketing. Therefore (as is the case where I work) a website developer should be under the umbrella of the marketing department.

    Between IT and Software Development though, a web developer has more in common with IT than Software Development. So what if Software Development is writing code? Doesn't the IT department also do so?

    The web developer has to work closely with IT, especially if hosting is done in-house. Even if hosting ISN'T done in house, often an in-house testing server with IIS needs to be set up, firewalls opened up, etc.

    More important than all of this though, is politics. The political landscape of every office varies greatly - whether it's social, strategic, skill based, clout, or even something completely out of left field.

    We've seen it enough to know it's true. Climbing the ranks of management sometimes has little to do with being qualified to manage.

    If you think you have a good chance of pulling him to your side, go for it. But if the decision has already been finalized, then just let it go.

  • +
    0 Votes
    jmgarvin

    Software development can be a separate portion of the business. However, in small companies, software dev and IT are usually one in the same for simplicity.

    +
    0 Votes
    stress junkie

    I would definitely put web page development in a software developers' group, not a system administrators' group. It seems self evident to me. A web developer will interact with system administrators in exactly the same ways as other software developers. Any software developer may present requirements for their project to the system support group to install specific development or run time tools, fonts, directory structures with specific access parameters, et. al. I can see no difference between web development, database administration, and in house application development.

    This can actually be good for maintaining a robust computer environment. Software developers typically do not have the broad view of system configuration requirements that the system administrators are likely to have. The two groups typically have very different values and goals. The software developers typically maintain a very narrow view of the computer systems on which their project will be developed or run. They may be inclined to make rash decisions based on their project requirements without regard to maintaining the computer function required by other people. This is where the system administrators can protect the system function from damage by rash decisions made by software developers. If the software developers require the participation of system administrators to reconfigure the computer systems then the system administrators have the opportunity to evaluate the change requirements and discover potential problems that could arise from making the changes required by the software developers.

    For example, let's say that you have already got some critical applications in place. These applications run with a particular version of Java virtual machine. The web developer wants to use a particular new tool that requires a new version of Java. The web developer doesn't bother to consider that an upgrade to the new Java version may break the applications that are already in place and that require the current version of Java. Any software developer with system administrator privilege may decide that their project deadline does not permit them the time to research and test the new version of Java with the current application environment and may upgrade Java on his/her own. Now when the current applications don't run properly you face end user down time that didn't have to happen.

    If the web developer were in the system administrators' group s/he would almost certainly be given access to system administration privileges. That is a recipe for disaster. Having software developers and system administrators in different groups where the system administrators act as a check against rash system reconfiguration by the software developers helps to maintain dependable systems for the end users. You do not want to combine any software development activity with system administration.

    +
    0 Votes
    shernandez

    I agree that software developers do not always have the broad view of the overall system requirements of an environment as you mentioned, but this is usally caused by their point of view. I believe, however, that this is another reason why its good to have this position in the IT department. It's our job to make sure things keep running. Why not design things with that in mind from the get go. In any other department, the priority will be to just get it done. Then you end up wasting countless hours troubleshooting, maintaining, or shoe-horning the solution in to fit. That doesn't seem as effecient or cost effective.

    IT is also responsible for the implementation of new hardwre and software. Its not the developers who install and maintain this stuff. Larger organizations require the use of enterprise level management tools such as SAP, MAS 90, PeopleSoft, Oracle, etc.?it is the responsibility of the IT department to make sure these systems are operational and provide useful information. This inevitably requires software development to modify reports, GUI, functionality, work flow, etc. These teams almost always fall under the IT department, especially web application development teams, as more and more IT tools are moving to a ASP.NET model where both internal and external applications are run over the web. The line between software development and technology in this context very quickly disappears.

    In regards to the soft. dev. guys having sys admin access. that is very easy to fix. Just because someone's in the IT deparment doesn't mean they belong in the administrators group.

    +
    0 Votes
    rdube

    I think it all depends on the size of the company,if the company is big enough to have IT and Software development departments,which sounds like it's the case here,then web development falls under software development.

    +
    0 Votes
    pmetcalf

    I sense you simplified this to get support for your point. Since small companies under 50 have IT departments of like 2 heads, I'll assume your company creates and sells software as a product or supporting Manufactured Part of an Assembly. Indeed there are politics going on here as well. It appears you were not rewarded for your fight to get someone (and you did, congrats!). Web Site Development is like 25% of creating a web site. Perhaps there is a bigwig who knows this and is actually hiring for more of a Marketing or Sales slant. That's what SMB web sites are for, except for companies who invest adequately in their site and create an after sales support area. I just picked up a great book about company politics off Amazon called "Provocative Business Change" by John A Honeycutt, so I have my business turf hat on right now.

    Mix into that pot the fact that I work (programmer) for a retail company (2300 employees) where the web site is completely developed by the Marketing department. We have our disagreements, they require in-depth support (DBA, Infrastructure, etc), but they have their own budget and have to buy what the company needs themselves.

    This got long, thanks for letting me vent.

    +
    0 Votes
    slicer777

    I'll start by saying Web developers are software developers, but they can also be so much more, mostly depending on the size of the company and the size of the IT department.

    Now when I say IT department, I come from a company that has one IT division with a Web department in addition to networking, development, DBA, and production operations.

    I head up the web department and the development department is mostly PeopleSoft developers. Me and my staff are responsible for creating Web apps including the databases that go with them and specifying the setup of the web servers, so we cross from Web development to DBA to sys admins. That's why we are in our own department, our skills span too many areas to fit in any of the others.

    My point is that it really depends on where you are and where the skills are located to do the job.

    For contrast, I've even been a places where the Web developers were part of the Marketing department.

    +
    0 Votes
    frostbite

    As most of the posters have commented, for an SMB, it strikes us as strange that you have multiple "IT" function departments.

    That being said, you may want to review the objectives of your own department and compare that with the objectives of the web developer position.


    If it runs within your department objectives then most likely it should be within your department.

    +
    0 Votes
    Lost_in_NY

    As long as we're talking about applications development and not content or 'master data' creation, then it should be under a common IT management structure with all other technical functions that support the hardware and software for the business. .

    +
    0 Votes
    John Forbes

    I curious if your software development doesn't sit within IT - where does it sit?

    We have had internal debates about whether web developers should be in the IT department (with software development) or in the communications team which is responsible for website content. Seems to come down to whther the job is mainly mark-up & graphic design (comms), or whether it involves some element of programming e.g forms database access (IT).

    If your your 'IT' department is only responsible for operational / infrastructure issues then it is n't the write place for a web developer.

    +
    0 Votes
    blckspder

    Our Software developer is in the Engineering dept. to work closely with the systems that our engineers build.
    However as of late. The managers are talking of moving our software developer to the IT dept. This is because the engineering dept. has been keeping track of support for the programs and has not set up a proper system to make sure everything is managed correctly when it comes to the software created. A problem the managers hope we can fix by bringing the developer into our department.

    +
    0 Votes
    christian

    Regardless of the fact that the requirement for web development skills comes from your department, this resource should be placed within the team best capabable of managing their skills and the project(s) on which they are working.

    It is likely that the team/department manager who looks after 'analytical software development' will be running a structure more suited to the requirements gathering and development process, and will have progress reporting procedures in place to ensure that the developer is using their time effectively.

    Furthermore, when your site is complete, and is entering the maintenance phase, the software development group is best placed to:

    1) Ensure that the skills for maintaining the site are transferred and shared within a team of competent developers.

    2) Ensure that the project is effectively documented.

    3) Identify other projects where this developer skills may be applied.

    In short, Yes - you are being power hungry - unless you have considerable experience in manageing software development teams, leave development to the group assigned to this work and use them as a service to you.

    +
    0 Votes
    shernandez

    Great response. One of the reasons for fighting for this position in my mind is because our SAS programming department does such a poor job of managing the overall scope of software development. Nearly all of their time is spent on improving the efficiency or accuracy of their programs versus making sure it all fits in the grand scheme of things. Projects are not well documented, processes are unorganized and somewhat uncontrolled. Of course there are many aspects in which this is not the case but the overall picture is this way.

    That being said, it is important for the company that this website developement is done correctly, securely, and positioned for growth. I have my doubts it will happen in the current soft. dev team.

    If we are talking management, then it is safe to say that one does not necesarily need to have the technical skills required to complete the tasks but the skills to manage them. A good manager will determine the necessary tasks that must be completed and the proper methods to measure them, along with the other points you made. You don't need to be a programmer to do this effectively.

    +
    0 Votes
    jmartin

    The purpose of most websites are for marketing. Therefore (as is the case where I work) a website developer should be under the umbrella of the marketing department.

    Between IT and Software Development though, a web developer has more in common with IT than Software Development. So what if Software Development is writing code? Doesn't the IT department also do so?

    The web developer has to work closely with IT, especially if hosting is done in-house. Even if hosting ISN'T done in house, often an in-house testing server with IIS needs to be set up, firewalls opened up, etc.

    More important than all of this though, is politics. The political landscape of every office varies greatly - whether it's social, strategic, skill based, clout, or even something completely out of left field.

    We've seen it enough to know it's true. Climbing the ranks of management sometimes has little to do with being qualified to manage.

    If you think you have a good chance of pulling him to your side, go for it. But if the decision has already been finalized, then just let it go.