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Feeling overwhelmed...

By thamilton ·
This is my first sysadmin job and for the last 6 months (my first 6 months) I have been feeling extremely overwhelmed. I am the only IT person here and I am responsible for everything! Im fortunate to have landed such a great job but it is very difficult for me to focus on one thing at a time. Im getting my BA in Information Systems Security but at the same time I actually enjoy working with people and helping them.

As a budding sysadmin, how can I make my days more productive as an admin but still be available as the sole support role?

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Another option...

by RknRlKid In reply to Weekly report

Here is another trick until we can find out what is on his weekly report. I went to an "effectiveness" seminar once, and they taught to use the Outlook "To Do" list to keep track of what you do on a daily basis. Your daily to do list will document what you are doing.

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Yes, I'll post something

by JP_The_IT_Guy In reply to Weekly report

I appreciate the request and completely understand where you are coming from. I, myself, sometimes have difficulty creating something for a manager from scratch, usually because we have different results in mind.

In my particular case, I report to the majority owner and CEO of the company, who is decidedly non-technical. Since I live, and mostly work, 100 miles from the base office (remember, very many server, very few users), he kept complaining that he didn't know what I was working on. To address that complaint, I started to "manage upward" by composing the weekly report. He no longer complains that he doesn't know what I'm working on, but I also don't think that he reads past the first page of the report. That's fine, the first page is an executive summary along with the listing of recent/planned expenditures and my "Hot" items.

When I complete this week's report, I will scrub it (extensively) and post a generic version.

The report is a Word document and I make use of headings to keep the formating pleasant and quickly move between sections. Each week, I copy the previous week's document and start updating and adding new content. It took about a month for me to arrive at this current version, which of course is tailored to my audience and our use of technology.

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Weekly Report-Model

by MJGunther In reply to Yes, I'll post something

I've had to do quarterly reports, for which I kept notes on a daily basis: Narrow strip of paper, labeled by half-hours in the first column, the second column for jotting a brief reminder of the specific work, with a third column (keyed) for the project name or general category of work (support, training, research, config/testing, etc.). It really helped as a daily diary when it came time to compile those quarterly reports.

Because I did a fair amount of running around, I found it more practical to jot down what I was doing on paper rather than electronically (in Outlook Tasks, as someone else suggested). Whatever works best for you.

It also showed in which categories I was *actually* spending time. ("You said this job would be 1/5 support, but I've been spending 15-20 hours a week on support for the past two months.")

JP_The_IT_Guy, I am *really* looking forward to seeing your weekly report template/model!

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Another way to prioritize

by grant@rb In reply to General thoughts on IT Mg ...

You are your own boss and you decide what you want to do. Then there is the person who is your boss and tells you what to do. At the top is the person who signs your paycheck. Who do you want to keep happy?

Set up your own calendar and set up what you need to meet with other(s) about on a daily/weekly/monthly basis.

Then, instead of you jumping through the hoop to meet everyone else's schedule, you can establish some time frames of your own so that you are managing your job.

This would be looked upon favorably by the boss. The boss knows that you are meeting with Sally on Project B at 1:30PM on Tuesday and you will be meeting with bob on Project C at 8:30AM Wednesday...etc.

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Sample Weekly Report

by JP_The_IT_Guy In reply to General thoughts on IT Mg ...

Here is a sample, heavily scrubbed. My boss, like all good small business owners, keeps a very close watch on the expenditures. We have had some interesting operational issues with a few of our vendors, though most of the details have been filtered out.

Let me know if you have any questions about the report. It looks better in Word with formatted headings & such. -JP


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Infrastructure Operations

Vendor A has responded to some of the technical questions from the incident on 8/7. They are working on getting a response to the remaining questions from VENDOR S. Load2 failed on 8/23 on the small servers due to problems on the Vendor R network.
I have reached a major stopping point on both the Weights spreadsheet and the calendar access. Our contractor has reviewed the past three years of results and found 18 suspect companies.

Strategic Considerations

The developers and I would like to add a write cache chip on each of the three small servers. I have begun to consider the requirements for the next employee in the technology operations group.
Expenditures

? Recommending ~1,000 for monitoring software solution.
? Recommending ~$400 for a NAS device and software for an office backup solution.
? Recommending $300 / server write cache upgrade for the three small servers.
? Recommending $3,100 for a 48 port switch to upgrade 24 port switch.

Task and Project Lists ? Hot Items

1. VENDOR A /VENDOR S incident follow-up
2. Shared Calendars
3. Weights
4. Operations Manual
5. August Scheduled Maintenance
6. Install / Configure ACT!
7. Access for gateway program on small server 3
8. Monitoring software evaluation
9. Contractor Update


INFRASTRUCTURE OPERATIONS

Backups

The backups have functioned very well this past week. The Vendor C weekly database full backups have completed successfully for August. There will be some additional full backups taken from individual databases after the developers complete updates to the databases. This is to keep the daily differential backup sizes from getting too large and paying unnecessarily more on the Vendor C backup bills.

Production Environment

There were a couple of brief problems with operations this week. On 8/21, there was roughly a 10 minute outage at the end of the day caused by connection issues with Vendor S. The backup feed was quickly enabled. A couple of days later, for about an hour on 8/23, one item was stagnate. Vendor A associated this with network problems that Vendor R was having at that time.

On the whole, the production systems continue to perform well. In light of the recent issues, one of the developers has started a discussion about possible changes and improvements to the programs.

Follow-up on 8/7 Incident

We had the second follow up call with Vendor A this week regarding the incident on August 7th and on August 21st. The call included GP and CM, both with Vendor A, and one of our developers.

The conversation started with our developer asking about stagnate data. It turns out that Vendor R was having a problem with their feed that day. (We saw this affect our overnight download from Vendor R.) Here are the other items that were discussed:

1. Do you have any information on the connection drop on 8/21

Was not an application issue. We need to open a case with Vendor S on the matter and then Vendor A can follow up on that case number.

2. What is the timeout setting on the firewall and how low can it be set?

They are still waiting for a response from VENDOR S on this.

3. What is the status of the heartbeat monitoring?

They are still waiting for a response from VENDOR S on this.

4. What is the ETA on restoring the automatic fail-over functionality between Vendor S?s primary and secondary sites?

Currently about 6 months.

The next phone call is scheduled for next Wednesday afternoon.


Load2 Failure on small servers

The 8/23 overnight load2 failed on all three small servers. We suspect that this is because of the problems on the Vendor R network as mentioned above.

August 2006 Scheduled Maintenance

A scheduled maintenance has been added for 8/24 to perform the firmware updates on the two servers at our backup site. A USB drive with the firmware update software has been sent to the hosting facility. On 8/24, in coordination with the hosting facility I will update the firmware and then the operating system drivers on the two servers. This will complete the scheduled maintenance tasks for August.

Calendar Access for Management

Still need to confirm that management has access to the calendars.

Weights Document

The 2.5 version of the Weights spreadsheet was completed this week. All of the data is now pulled from a pivot table within the sheet. Also, the formulas run from left to right and shading is used to indicate which columns are calculated and which are referenced on other sheets. The documentation for how to acquire the source data is complete for all of the data sources on which I have sufficient information. Management should complete the review by Friday, 8/23, and I will be able to mark this project as completed.

Operations Documentation

This has taken a back seat to review, updates and documentation of the weights process. The next priority will be to document the business continuity scenarios for the core daily deliverables.

Contractor?s Progress

Our contractor is continuing with the review of the companies in the historical report. He has identified 18 companies whose domicile is not the US. They range from Canadian and Chinese companies, to ones that have obviously moved off-shore likely for tax reasons. I have augmented his list by adding a column that lists with information from Vendor R.

Unfortunately, due to system outages at his day job, the contractor will not be able to make much progress this weekend. He indicated that their systems were not quite as reliable as ours.

Office Environment

Software Licensing

I will complete the ACT installation when all of the sales staff on in the office.. This will require configuration changes on several workstations. They will have access to a share folder as well as to the ACT database. From this central location we will backup the data to a NAS device.

Data Backups

There is now some data at the office, primarily within ACT, that would be costly to loose. By placing a simple NAS device on the network, we can have a central location for data backup. It can sit in the server / network closet and be a bit more secure. The biggest risk with these types of devices is that they are very portable and can easily walk away so I will place it in the network closet. A 300 GB Buffalo Tech LinkStation Pro costs ~$275. Retrospect is a good backup software program and the professional edition, which should be sufficient for the requirements, is only ~$95.

STRATEGIC CONSIDERATIONS

Infrastructure

Possible Purchases

In consultation with the developers, they agree with me on spending $300 per server to add 128 MB battery-backed write cache to the three small servers? data array controllers. This is expected to have a noticeable improvement on their speed.

To address the port issues at the primary site and the switch speed issue at the secondary site, it is recommended that a ProCurve 2848 48-port 10/100/1000 managed switch be purchased for $3,100. This switch will replace the current ProCurve 2824 switch at the primary site. That switch will then be moved to the secondary site to replace the current 10/100 unmanaged switch. This is not an urgent purchase.

Activities

Staffing

I have started to define the requirements for the second hire in the Technology Infrastructure department. (One of the first needs is to determine a better name for the department.) The required technical skills are very ordinary: Windows Server 2003, SQL Server 2000, Active Directory, TCP/IP, Microsoft implementation of IPSec, Windows XP. Defining the soft skills, however is much more challenging. What we need is someone that could run the technology without me there. I?m looking for a lieutenant, or maybe a junior partner. He will be perhaps the most key employee in the development of our department.

EXPENDITURES

Recent
?

Upcoming
1. Monitoring software: ~$1,000
2. NAS device ($275) & software ($95) for office backup solution.
3. Battery-backed write cache for each of the three small servers: $300 each.
4. 48 port network switch for Houston: $3,100.
5. LiteSpeed SQL Backup software (for all three small servers): $5,400
6. Reporting server reporting software, software & price TBD.
7. We are at capacity in terms of power ports at the primary site. To add any devices with only one power supply will require an additional Automatic Source Transfer Switch for $500.

TASKS & PROJECTS

Hot Items

These items are urgent and import and are the first to receive attention on a daily basis

1. VENDOR A /VENDOR S follow-up ? Follow-up on incidents on 8/7 and 8/21.
2. Group Calendars ? Follow up with management testing.
3. Weights ? It is nearly complete, except for review by management.
4. Operations Manual ? Disaster recovery scenarios are next.
5. August Scheduled Maintenance ? HP firmware updates on secondary site on 8/24.
6. Gateway on small server 3 ? The request has to be made through Vendor R.
7. Install / Configure ACT! ? Need to add rest of sales department.
8. Monitoring ? Installing final solution to test.
9. Link upgrade ? Vendor R is reviewing the link utilization for us.
10. Contractor Update ? Making progress reviewing companies in historical report.
11. VPN Functionality ? Waiting for response from Vendor W on scheduling.

Warm Items

These items are important, but less urgent, and receive attention after the ?hot? items have been addressed.

1. Additional Infrastructure Staffing ? Determine additional staffing requirements.
2. Implement Domain Isolation ? Dependant upon network and server documentation.
3. SQL Maintenance Scripts ?Schedule pruning on small servers.

Cool Items

These items are longer term, or of a more strategic nature.

1. Office Server ? Install server for local backup, file sharing, and central management.
2. New Office ? This is likely to become a Hot Item this fall.
3. Secondary Cellular Provider ? Establish service with a second cellular provider. Select for data packages and use voice services as failover.
4. Implement ITIL Methodologies ? This is the current vogue in IT management. More information here: http://www.itil.co.uk.
5. Infrastructure 2.0 ? My goal is to have a proposal by May of 2007.

Closed Items

These items have been addressed or are no longer of concern.

1.

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Thank you for posting Model Weekly Report

by MJGunther In reply to Sample Weekly Report

JP ?

Thanks so much for posting your model weekly report. It looks great. And I don?t want your job.

BTW. It?s nice to see someone in IT who knows the difference between ?effect? and ?affect?. Though I notice you and I both have trouble with ?lose? and ?loose? <grin>.

It?s a dandy report, with very intelligent topic divisions. It should serve any one-person-show (or middle manager) as an excellent template. Best of luck in your search for a lieutenant.

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Yep, need to re-read Strunk & White

by JP_The_IT_Guy In reply to Thank you for posting Mod ...

I've got most of the common homophones down, but lose & loose still eludes me. I ended up correcting a few other typos from the original when going through it again.

Thanks for the comments. It to a couple of months to get the topic divisions in the current state. As for composing the report, basically I go back through my notes, calendar & email for the past week and try to sum up the areas where I spend most of my time and that are the most critical to ongoing operations. I try to make the narrative of each section engaging enough so that the owner will make it to the end. When I've completed the body, I go up to the top and get the summary straight. The hard part is making the summary fit all on one page, which I believe is essential.

I actually love my job. I'm building a department. The technical part is challenging enough to keep me interested. The work that my company does is inspriring. Nobody's ever done what were doing.

Now if I could only get our vendors to be more reliable & responsive...

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Very , very useful example

by cewallace In reply to Sample Weekly Report

I want to be like JP_The_IT_Guy.

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you're the best!

by shardeth-15902278 In reply to Sample Weekly Report

Thanks for taking the time to share this. It was very enlightening for me. I appreciate your willingness to share your knowledge and insight.

Thanks again.

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Nice and to the Point

by Michael Ramm In reply to Sample Weekly Report

Thanks JP for the sample report. It will help me to develop a similar report for my boss(es). I am a 1-man IT Dept for a local municipality so I have the added feature of reporting to our City Council, as well.

I am toying with looking into ITIL. Do you think that it is worthwhile for a small IT department like ours?

Thanks for all of the advice on this thread.

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