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1 man IT shops...

By ez_1putt ·
In many discussions, I keep reading about 1 man IT shops with hundreds of users and dozens or so servers.. How do you do it? Does any trivial tasks or documentation get done at all? How far behind do you get with software patches, hardware fixes, pc rebuilds, user complaints, inventory, etc.. etc..?

I'm 1 of 3 tech guys of a company with 12 locations, 250 users, and 16 servers... and we are thinking about adding a 4th. Is there a secret portal of efficiency that I have yet to discover?

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Caffeine IV and Prozac Pills

by Why Me Worry? In reply to 1 man IT shops...

will keep anyone awake for many hours. Anyone willing to subject themselves to such crazy hours and more work than they can handle has got to be on anti-depressants and is addicted to caffeine. See my thread about "dealing with annoying coworkers", where I discuss a certain whacko who enjoys being more in the office than he does anywhere else. The nutcase is my coworker.

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Depends on business environment

by stress junkie In reply to 1 man IT shops...

Some business environments are very stable. Once the servers are set up the daily operations are mainly concerned with maintaining user accounts, monitoring performance and security logs, and keeping software patches up to date.

Other business environments are very unstable. Required software version upgrades to meet changing business needs can take a lot of time. Businesses that are growing rapidly may have to adopt new models of business computing that require a lot of new design and installation work to implement.

Some end user communities require more IT help than others.

Some businesses may implement rolling upgrades for their desktop hardware so that you have 10 or 20 desktop computers to install and configure every month. Other businesses don't do that.

I've seen a wide variety of IT workloads at different places. One place I worked had 3 support people for 1 server. There was 1 system administrator, 1 DBA, and 1 person to administer a huge accounting software package. Everyone was very busy. Other places I have handled 10 servers by myself and I had enough time to monitor workloads and review configuration options and write documentation. At yet another job I supported 4 classrooms. The workload was very predictable and routine. When a class had finished with the computers in a classroom I would use Ghost to reimage the disks then give each of the computers a unique name. Every computing environment is unique so every workload is unique.

It sounds like you and your team are doing a lot of work per person.

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Get help from Why Me Worry

by sleepless in WA In reply to 1 man IT shops...

Dear 1 man, I suggest you persuade Why Me Worry to trade in some of his valuable advice time. You can email him some tasks and maybe he can give you some IT advice and offsite help. Being cynical and putting people down is a waste of energy.

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ditch complexity

by grbeckmeyer In reply to 1 man IT shops...

With all those locations you may not be able to simplify your environment too much, but one easy way would be to ditch Exchange & AD for something that doesn't consume quite so much admin time.

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Do the best that you can

by Soulman918 In reply to 1 man IT shops...

I have two sites, side by side, supporting two hotels plus guest support. I support about 150 PC's 6 servers, all application support and apparantely anything more technical then a calculator. My user base is unwilling or unable to try and troubleshoot issues for themselves even after numerous prodding and hands on training.

The first year that I was here I worked 12 - 14 hours a day, weekends, overnights... whatever was called for. In the end I ended up losing most of my weekends for the summer and losing vacation time as well.

Now I limit my days to about 12 hours, never work weekends (with the odd exception) and just do as much as I can each day. If there is an issue with management that something is not being done, then I leave the decision with them to decide what is the most urgent item to be worked on. I've come to the point where I have decided that it is not worth it to overwork yourself. In the long run you become less productive and just burn yourself out.

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Take the big red "S" off your chest

by amcol In reply to 1 man IT shops...

I sense you feel you're doing something wrong, or maybe not doing as well as you could be, so first a thought which may make you feel better...you're overworked. Many studies have shown that the proper ratio of IT support people to total employees is anywhere from 1/20 to 1/50 depending on environment stability and various other factors. Irrespective of whatever's going on in your shop, you don't have enough people.

With that as context here's some advice on how to make things better:

1. Prioritize. You can't do it all. You can't sacrifice the urgent for the important. Most importantly, you can't be the one to figure out the priorities...that's not IT's job. If you don't have some kind of a user group, start one. Get your business customers to prioritize your workload, but always in context...not everything can be "A" priority. Make them build compelling business cases for the high priority items, and make them justify why the low priority items should even stay on the list.

2. Decline. Just because you're asked to do something doesn't make it a mandate from God. There are only 24 hours in a day and you're entitled to some of them. When people come up to you with their hair on fire and tell you the world will come to an end unless you rebuild your network topology and have it done first thing in the morning, don't succumb to panic and assume they know what they're talking about just because, well, they must. Negotiate timeframes and scope that make business sense and are achievable.

3. Communicate. There's never enough of this. Make sure everyone who needs to knows what you're doing, why you're doing it, how far along you are, and when you'll be done. Be responsible and responsive. Be accountable. Be visible.

4. Execute. Nothing succeeds like success. Build up your credibility by getting the important stuff done, and when your customers all start swarming around you like sharks at a feeding frenzy you'll have the confidence and the track record to be able to push back.

5. Meditate. I'm not suggesting you join an ashram or light incense in the LAN room, but it's OK to take ten minutes once or twice throughout the day and do some controlled breathing exercises. Very refreshing, very calming, and ultimately very productive.

Just be the best professional you can be. No one can expect more than that. Revel in your successes and don't worry about the failures. View everything in the long term...when you factor in the dimension of time, everything works out in the end.

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