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Are all IT Staff doomed to Information Overload and Burnout?

By crisp ·
So I've been working at the same company for 5 years now, managing the IT infrastructure as the System Admin, Security Admin, Deployment Planner, Research person, Network Person and a whole range of other job roles that I don't care to mention.

I'm 27 years old now. Just over 2 years ago, the company I'm at went through some changes, which included a management buyout, moving away from being a subsidiary of a global multinational,(with hundereds of internation IT staff available for help),to a local owned and operated independent company.

With these changes came a huge change in my responsibilities and requirements for my job role.
Also during the change negotiations many people left fearing job cuts and other problems, my boss, and I were left from the original 4 people.

The new company required a complete revamp of its IT infrastructure, as being the far away blip on a multinationals screen does not lend itself to high IT budgets but rather hand me down hardware from all over the world.

It started with new domain registrations, New Lotus Domino Mail Infrastructure on new Servers, then went to Active Directory Rollout, New Antivirus and Firewalls, new internet service providers and upgraded network devices. Hard to believe, but completed single handed by myself and maintained till this day :-)?

Novell gone :-( M$ in... New SQL based ERP system, which was implemented over a 8 months by consultants which only worked on the ERP package and not the back end servers and SQL, that was left to me. Software Update Service, Trend Officescan, Serverprotect and Scanmail for Domino, Windows XP rollout and migration, Lotus Notes upgrades and setups, Terminal Servers and Test Environments for the ERP, LTO Tape drives and Arcserve Backups, Media Pools and off site tape storage. All the best practices harvested during hours and hours of late nights reading and learning, till the point when one's brain can't take any more.

At first I was happy to do this as it was a "new" company, and I was getting great experience doing this from scratch, plus I could finally install everything the Vulcan way, logically, in a way it made sense and had longevity. So I did it.

We then started with the first VPN remote office in another part of the country, then the second, 3, 4, 5, and soon time for me to fly internationally to set up a sales office overseas. We are 5 IT staff now including the IT manager, a System Analyst for the ERP and 2 support staff and myself.

Today there is VoIP, Spyware and Adware, Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1, PDA's !!!! Terminal services for the remote offices, URL filters to stop people accessing porn all day, antivirus updates from Trend the totally f*cked my entire network on a Saturday because of poorly tested pattern files... and the list keeps growing and growing. Average users skill sets are slipping further and further away from technology being advertised. Blackberries on TV one night and on my desk the next with the “I heard you can get e-mail on one of these..." Policies and procedures that are out of date before I've completed them, and Sarbanes Oxley and DRP and System Recovery Procedures.

This leads me to one thing, one problem, which I can’t find an answer for in this borderless job field. How we are going to avoid burnout I have now idea, no one can continue like this for too long, but it’s not stopping. Are we all doomed to suffer from this, with our unclear roles increased responsibilities, ever incomplete knowledge? I can't see how one can continue amassing huge amounts of information, just be up to date enough, or secure enough to do your daily job...

New technologies are being developed every day, and it does not take too long to hit the mainstream, there are new security flaws and considerations daily. Open source, closed source, tomato sauce…
So now that the data center has been rebuilt, with raised floors and Pyroshield gas, UPS’s and Rack based servers, which are totaling nearly 24, and hundreds of pc’s and 5 WAN offices with 2 Warehouses. There is so much more I can’t even bring myself to type it.
Just the content on the current home page of techrepublic would keep a decent, motivated admin busy for weeks…Unfortunately, I’ve lost my motivation.
Where are we going to end up? I imagine it is somewhere between firefighters and 'crisps'.

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Ask for a better budget

by terere_99 In reply to Are all IT Staff doomed t ...

And I think you need more IT pros to work with yoiu and help you with the job. Maybe you need to reorganize the things so you can help your company grow and not let you die.
More money and more people is the answer for me. so you can work smarter

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by avid In reply to Are all IT Staff doomed t ...

I invite the challenge. I love new technology. I have no problem with an ever changing environment. I think it is great. It increases your knowledge and growth. It also makes some of us stand out in a field that has been flooded with upstarts who have basic IT knowledge and attemp to market themselves as IT Professionals. The faster new technology comes the faster we grow, not only as individuals, but as a civilization. If you feel overwhelmed, then pick a "pet" technology for thew the week and learn everything you can about it. Next week, pick a different one. You do not have to know everything the second it comes out. Keep your head up.

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some limits

by highlander718 In reply to Are all IT Staff doomed t ...

While I am more or less in the same position (single IT) in a 80 PC, servers, phones, security, ERP, database programming, WAN communications environment, RF barcode scanners and terminals, I am not all that against the setup. True I gave up pretty early on trying to know everything.
On the other hand I do not agree with 8432 (last post) that one should try to learn all these things unless you don't want a life too besides computers :-)

I definitely got maintanance contracts for the phone system, printers, RF technology and a few other thigs, so I don't waste too much time with those. If it's a quick fix I'll do it, but else it might cost more to waste time on them trying to figure it out.
That is not to say that I didn't learn :-) in the mean time, but other than having a general knowledge in most of the things that are supposed to be IT lately (see above list) I only focused on 2-3 areas of interest.

Over-time and weekends only if it's dead neccesary, I have no problems telling the users that they need to log-off for 30 minutes (not daily of course :-)). And if I stay late, I come late next day, If I work in the weekend I take a day off during the week.

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This comes with the territory

by dziedzicmj In reply to Are all IT Staff doomed t ...

If you are working in IT (ITC as it is called recently ? another change) you have to get used to the fact that your skills get obsolete almost completely within about 18 months. This means that if you don't learn new stuff (and quickly), pretty soon you will have no relevant skills and you will become unemployable.
I am in this business for over 20 years and had to keep pace with all the changes. And most of the people who are successful in this business had to keep pace, too.
This does not mean that you have to kill yourself working 70 hours a week. As someone put it "Work smarter, not harder".
An example from the past: When I took over management of a network support group, all of us were getting enough pages and off-hours calls that we could not have any private life. However, after implementing better procedures and tools and cleaning up the network we ended up with an average of one call per week. Not everyone was happy (less overtime), but most of us were.
The key is in managing your own time and priorities and to a great degree your management's expectations. But if you think, you can kick back and enjoy a quiet life, think again (or change the profession (;-)).

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Yes. Burnout is inevietable, and solution is simple:

by jkameleon In reply to Are all IT Staff doomed t ...

Hire fresh human resources as necessary, and dump the burn out ones.

Gates makes a lot of noise around the apparent shortage of computer science students. But:
That said, numerous software developers are available, having lost jobs after the dot-com bubble burst. Microsoft could fill its ranks from that pool, but the company prefers to hire new college graduates.

So, let's face it: If you study computer science, you'll be able to use your skills 10, 15, 20 years tops. Then, you'll be forced to change profession, for one reason or another.

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