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Feedback about position and new venture

By IT-IS Manager ·
I am gathering some data for a new business venture that I have been offered at my job and wanted to get some feedback from fellow IT people.
I work for a midsize engineering company with currently 52 users. This varies some and has gone as high as70 and as low as 45. My job includes maintaining a NT/2000 network, all hardware and software upgrades and installs, database maintenance of software and hardware, plan and maintain three budgets yearly for three seperate internal groups. Design, create, and maintain a Website, and a large Internal Intranet. We have six servers, (2) NT, (4) 2000 and (1) Linux. I also handle all internal software training and helpdesk support. I currently hold at least one monthly class for our engineering department CADD personel. I help develop and maintain our CADD standards and CADD software customization. All that being said, I am curious to what the ratio of users to IT personal other IT folks deal with and what would be considered an average salary for someone in a similar postion. This will help me make some decisions considering the upcoming venture. The venture: My company is offering me out to outside companies for IT consulting - doing pretty much what I do here. The company after a overhead charge and expenses will provide me with a portion of the income. The more I bring in, the more I make. I will still be responsible for all duties for my existing job and if I want to add another tech to help with that I can, but his pay comes out of the consulting income as a direct expense to me.

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Catch-22

by timwalsh In reply to Feedback about position a ...

I think I would steer clear of this one without any a more in-depth plan on this "venture."

How much "spare time" do you currently have? Are you the only IT person? If so, it sounds like you probably already have your hands pretty much full.Remember that any time spent working for other clients is time not earning your current salary. If your salary for consulting work is not AT LEAST what your current salary is, how can this venture be worth it?

"The more I bring in, the more I make." Unless you have control over the rates charged (which you won't if it is your company that is hiring you out), how can you bring in more work, so you can make more money?

"I will still be responsible for all duties for my existing job and if I want to add another tech to help with that I can, but his pay comes out of the consulting income as a direct expense to me." Run away, fast!

Theoretically:
Assuming you get the same salary consulting as your current salary), if you spend 100 percent of your time consulting, your current responsibilities will obviously suffer. This would require you to hire a full-time tech to handle those responsibilities. Although technically you still make the same salary, you are now responsible for someone else's salary out of your income. How can any of this benefit you?

Another area to take into consideration is priorities. Who determines them? If both your company and a consulting client have a top priority item, who determines the ultimate priorty? If it ends up being you, no matter which way you go, someone will be unhappy, which tends to affect job security over the long run.

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Catch 22

by IT-IS Manager In reply to Catch-22

Yes my hands can be quite full at times. I did my own consulting for 5 years before I started here. This plan allows me to keep my base salary, and get a percentage after expenses of the IT income, the expenses include anyone I hire. I am somewhatconcerned with my current base salary. I am looking for some justiifcation to go back to them with on IT workers to users ratio and what my current base should be at before I continue accepting anymore responsibilities. Your "who comes first" comment is definately a concern I have.

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Catch-22 continued

by timwalsh In reply to Catch 22

The question of user-to-tech ratio comes up often in the forum but there really isn't any simple answer. What is necessary for one organization may be overkill for another organization with the same user base, and leave a third organization's techswoefully overworked.

Some things to take into consideration on this ?venture?:

How much of your time, on average, are you actively involved in IT-related tasks (user help, maintenance, development, software upgrades, etc.) as opposed to "waiting for something to happen?" Obviously, this will fluctuate, but unless you have an "ideal" situation (which few of us do), there is always a percentage of your time at work when you are doing "make-busy work" (stuff to fill up your day when everything is operating smoothly and you are between projects). This is the percentage of your time that you REALLY have available for this extra consulting work.

Would the consulting work require you to work more hours than you currently work?

If youcurrently work a standard workweek, the consulting work doesn?t require any additional hours, and you are guaranteed your base salary regardless, then theoretically you really have nothing to lose.

But I'm not entirely convinced that is the case.

Scenario:

Your salary is based on you working a 40-hour week. Any consulting work you do will not extend that. You get hired out on a consulting job that takes 30 hours a week. Assuming that the company wants to make a profit, they will have to charge a client a rate that takes into account the desired profit, company expenses (your benefits, and any administrative overhead) and your currently guaranteed salary. You apparently will get a percentage of the profit the company makes (??).
(continued)

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Catch-22 continued (part II)

by timwalsh In reply to Catch 22

You would obviously need to hire an assistant. Assume that the assistant must be reasonably competent and experienced and thus his salary will not be bargain basement. Also assume that the assistant will not be hired to ONLY cover the hours you are consulting. The question is WHERE or if the assistant's salary is applied in the rate calculation? Is it included in the company's expenses (in which case the clients will get charged some hefty rates)? Or is it applied against your percentage ofthe profit (in which case your profit share will ALWAYS be negative - and does this affect your base salary)?

The way you explain how the assistant's salary will be covered differs between your first post and this one. Neither way really makes sense. Either your company will be billing consulting clients for two techs and only providing one (in which case you won?t see much consulting work), or the company loses money (or at the very least breaks even) hiring you out (in which case you won't see any profit out of this venture).

The only way this could be profitable for both you and your company (as is currently explained) would be if you weren?t hired out enough to cause you to hire an assistant. The only other way for this to work without hiring an assistant would be if ALL your consulting work is done outside of normal business hours (however, there are still flaws here too; I would expect to see MORE than just a "percentage of the profits").

Could it be that whomeverthought up this scheme hasn't thought through all the financial aspects??

As your company is the one hiring you out, it would be incumbent upon them to give you guidance as to where your work priorities are in the case of conflicts. They need tobe prepared to deal with any customer ill will caused by their guidance.

I would still lean towards running away from this, unless many more of the specifics are ironed out.

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Thanks

by IT-IS Manager In reply to Catch-22 continued (part ...

You have provided a lot of very good input - much of it justifying my existing thoughts. I was going to lay out in more detail the plan, but based on the input I have received from various sources, I think I am going to actually turn the offer down. Hopefully they will not talk me out of it.

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curious

by haveuhadurkandy2day In reply to Feedback about position a ...

what type of training/education did u recieve before obtaining the job you have today,Im currently taking pc net and i need some helpful hints as to which careers i should be looking for after graduation.

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Self Trained

by IT-IS Manager In reply to curious

Other than some classes here and there, I learned from the trenches. My computer work started as a hobby and then grew into consulting work and then to this permanent job. The more I helped the more I learned.

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self trained? more info ples???????

by haveuhadurkandy2day In reply to Self Trained

Well my passion for computers started out pretty much the same, as a hobby, and now I have started taking pc net classes and fear its too basic but im getting good training, but i think it's not enough. How did you get into consulting, just give me some tips on self training,would be a great help thanx

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Here's a SWELL idea...

by ghstinshll In reply to self trained? more info p ...

How about you go back to your posting and don't reply to this one unless you have anythign to ADD to it, rather than take away from it...

What the **** is PC net? I'venever heard of it in my years in the field. You're either a foreigner or a very new person to technology, but that comment really doesn't help, now does it? Ok, Add some detail to YOUR posting that you put up last week and maybe someone will finally be able to give you some advice...

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Wow!

by ghstinshll In reply to Feedback about position a ...

Tim has really thrown some sauce at this dish... He's addresses more than what I could have in one breath, but I do have a little bit of thought to add/define.

Your current company is an engineering firm? Since when did civil and architectural engineers start outsourcing technology? It sounds like a conflict of interest to me unless you're being offered to a partner/sister-company, friendly competitor, or some other kind of hook-up between someone high up that would benefit him. Your office shoudl be keeping you just busy enough to want to branch out some, but it might not be in your best interest because of your internal duties. I support 85 users from desktop, to network ,to hand-holding, to telecom. These are broad terms, but I stay busy enough - that's for sure. I'd think that with your CAD, web, etc... you're a busy guy.

Be weary of extending yourself beyond your current reach, unless it's to just add some value to your position. You'll be stretched too thin, and essentially be bumped out of a job once the consulting turns sour as well.

If you want to add value into your position, pick up some of those drafting skills in CAD and fill some time that way.

These are rough thoughts, so take them as you will withTim's suggestions, but it sounds like you have a lot of ironing to do befor eyou know you have a clean slate to work from. Feel free to bounce other ideas off us as you go though.

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