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Am I completely missing the boat?

By hcetrepus ·
I am a Technology Specialist working in education. We are not a huge school as yet, and as such have a small IT support staff, Director, Network Admin, help desk/multimedia, and myself. We have approximately 550 PC's plus a lab of MAC's. There is not a peice of equipment on the campus older than three years (minus some soon to be replaced servers and switches).

I guess I'll get right to the bottom line - are all IT depts, in the business sector as well as Education, considered the spawn of the devil? Is there anyone that does not come under scrutiny for failing to support this dept. or that dept? i.e THAT dept always gets high priority, whereas MY department is always on the backburner!

I have come into the IT field after spending 14 years in manufacturing. I work with a really good bunch of folks here in Oklahoma, I really do. But there seems to be a grudge against us for not gettings things done in a timely a manner as our customers (95% Instructors, then Dept heads, etc) think it should.

Additionally (some folks, not all) they do not trust us to prioritize our work and generally assume that we put them off for kicks. We have a very good workorder system that out Director enters for each person with the priority she deems necessary, and then they are stored in a Db for future reference. In addition to the day to day, please tie my shoes for me workorders (If there isn't a shortcut on the desktop, then it hasn't been installed) we roll out approx 150 desktops and a dozen laptops each year. This year they were 2.5 months late. They arrived as school started, whereas we are generally done. Can anyone else out there see what kind of bind this puts us in? Keep in mind though, there is no PC on campus older than 3 years - in other words the new machine is not going to increase productivity, or enable a student to do something they already cannot.

Recently, another Director met with myself and my Supervisor (IT Director) and said in as many words, we were inept as a department, the school did not have sufficient IT support, and we need badly to hire out a part time "lackey" (my word) or additional full time support to sufficiently meet her and everyone elses needs.

My feelings are this is a mid size educational facility, not a two year school, and cetainly not a University. I think their expectations are unrealistic.

Please bear in mind the IT group I work with are very knowledgable, and out first priority above all else is our students and teachers. There isn't time or likely enough space for me to go into more detail, but after the meeting Friday I was ready to leave the field all together. We DO seem to have the backing of the Superintedent, whom my boss answers to, but it feels like a bushwhacking is coming our way.

Does any of this make sense? Am I all alone?

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Not nearly alone

by Tig2 In reply to Am I completely missing t ...

I think that every IT department suffers to one degree or another.

The end user will never have the perception that we are working as fast as we can. Never. The best you can do is understand that from the gate and manage your end user communication in a way that takes that sad fact into account.

What the end user sees is that the pc isn't doing what they expect it to do and they are no longer being productive. When they are no longer productive, they no longer look good to THEIR bosses and it counts against them.

Business, as well as end users tend to see us as "making magic". They don't understand what we're doing. They are likely not at all interested in understanding. They know their jobs. And that is what they care about.

I have found that keeping this in the back of my mind when I interact with both business and the end user, I can communicate more clearly to the anxiety that they are feeling when the pc isn't working and they are managing to a deadline. While not perfect, it is a solution and a workable one.

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Perhaps the other Director

by IC-IT In reply to Am I completely missing t ...

is willing to take a budget cut to facilitate the hiring of another person. ;-)

An educational environment can make it pretty tough to please everyone. It sounds like you are on the right track though.

It definately helps to have a prioritized system for work orders. The next step is to communicate the methodology used to set the priority to all staff, faculty, and administrators.
Normally classrooms have priority. Next come work stoppages and then irritations/maintenance.
Unless the Super is willing to budget the additional monies there is little else to do except, service with a smile. Ensure your customers see your attitude is to provide the best service possible under your current restraints.
Off track orders are a PIA. Look to scheduling the implementations during non-school hours.

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All great thoughts

by hcetrepus In reply to Perhaps the other Directo ...

Appreciate the input folks.

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Post your work order list in priority sequence

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Am I completely missing t ...

Post your work orders so each requester knows where he or she is on the list, and can see what's ahead of them. Refer all questions about changing the sequence to your boss, since she's the one who sets the priorities.

You're not unique in this regard, and neither are IT departments. All support departments live with this every day. I bet the buildings maintenance department, the school bus shop, and others have similar issues. I know they do in an Army unit: supply, vehicle maintenance, signal (voice and data communications), etc. are always getting rush orders that resort their priority lists. Remember when you were in manufacturing and you need a new tool or fixture, but the maintenance or tool and die guys put you at the bottom of a three-page list? Ah, those were the days

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SLA's

by cmiller5400 In reply to Am I completely missing t ...

There needs to be Service Level Agreements that state how long certain things take. These must be agreed upon by all impacted department heads so that there is some accountability. You want a new computer, as soon as it is received, it will be installed within 3-5 days. Locked out accounts are a 1 hour response time. Network outage, 15 minutes response time with updates every 30 minutes.

And to even break it down even further, prioritize on how many people are impacted; the more impacted, the higher the priority is.

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Yep the Education field is absolutely amazing.

by faradhi In reply to Am I completely missing t ...

I used to work for a college and it was the same way. Never fast enough and someone always had more strawberries in their cheerios than they did.

I would like to think that the suggestions stated above would help, unfortunately those suggest depend on rational people working in Academia. Mind you these are the same people that work a week on a single PowerPoint and then fails to check out the projector (at the time we did not have one in every class) and yell at me because one was not available.

I have another story of a dean that called me in his office because he could not log in to the new Student Information System. I walk him through logging in and then he asks "What do I do now?" "What do you want to do?", I replied. "I don't know, you tell me." (I kid you not that was his response. I swear) I responded, "I don't know what you want to do. If you tell me what you would like to try, I will be happy to tell you how to get there." It went on like that for about 10 minutes. He ran one of the divisions.

Academia can be a frustrating place to work. I do understand.

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Welcome to Education IT

by jmgarvin In reply to Am I completely missing t ...

You aren't alone and in most educational settings IT is not only hated, but they would burn you at the stake if they could.

It's a catch 22. If you try to protect the users, you are taking away academic freedom...if you allow them to do what they want, you'll experience more downtime...

Good times...

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Tide

by santeewelding In reply to Am I completely missing t ...

In the year or more I've been reading and thinking about TR, your post comes top dead center.

I'm old enough to still marvel at what is called IT. I'm also situated such that the business advent of IT was first like noticing water on my floors.

Damn.

It persisted. The level rose. Now it wets everything, from motherboards in my equipment, to banking, to customer relations, and more, including my personal life. I see no damn end to this tide.

Unlike your circumstance, mine is tiny. Unlike yours, mine is autocratic. And unlike yours, both my legs are wet. That speaks to category and division. Both you and others in this thread are all over category and division.

Your plaint, like their suggestions and commiserations, issue as one with only one leg in the water. Or, more pointedly, as one who looks for a boat to float on the water, somehow preserving your category and honoring your division of labor.

So also are the users and the suits, like the pro, disposed to preserve their distinctions. I don't see that happening, not any more than I see an autocracy of one sitting atop the others to stay dry.

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It's true

by maecuff In reply to Am I completely missing t ...

We get abuse heaped on us all the time. And no one sees what we do to keep things running smoothly. That's the way it SHOULD be and we shouldn't be congratulated for the hoops we jump through to keep things transparent. (sarcasm alert)

The other thing is, other departments (at least in my experience) have the luxury of throwing there hands in the air and saying "I don't know what to do, someone else has to fix this". Not IT. We are where it all ends and we HAVE to fix it.

Then again, it's what we choose to do, right? It's either this or win the lottery.

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I choose 'win the lottery'

by The Scummy One In reply to It's true

but as I only win the lottery from emails, I havent actually seen any monies come my way

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