General discussion

  • Creator
  • #2187883

    Software developer or network admin


    by ramrod ·

    I’ve been working as a one person IT team doing network and database management for a small company of 110 users for about a year and half now. My previous experience was similar but in a very junior role. I have been given a task by my director to come with our own specialised cti (computer telephony)integrated software that could save the company tens of thousands in licensing costs. The problem here is that being a one man band I’ve come to realise that by taking this task on I’m stretching myself thin. I’ve made good progress so far in learning how to program in c# plus my previous database knowledge. My question to you all is:how do I get this software built without having to contract or hire another developer because that would leave me back in square one and lose the oppurtunity for a bonus by building this app? I’m aware that it is possible to outsource development projects or certain aspects of them but what are the implications on cost effectiviness and overall quality of the projects?

    Your help is appreciated in advance.

All Comments

  • Author
    • #3341161

      Reply To: Software developer or network admin

      by jbaker ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      Talk to your local community college that teaches programming. The professor will be able to put you in touch with a “star” pupil that can assist/intern/contract pieces of the app for you.

      Gets your app built cheaply, and gets the student some real world/documentable experience.

      • #3246838

        I agree fully

        by darke51 ·

        In reply to Reply To: Software developer or network admin

        The local Tech College is full of very talented people that can help you in many ways. I speek from experience as a student and as the head tech in a small retail store. I was an intern and I use interns now. They want and need to learn and work. Most are very driven to succeed!!!!!!

        • #3248116

          To take over the day to day tech responisbilities

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to I agree fully

          yes. But if it’s to do the software, an inexperienced developer takes a lot of mentoring, and for that you have to be on at least your third tee-shirt to do it. On the day to day running, just developing some procedures and task shcedules so you can teach someone is worth the price of teaching them.

        • #3249163


          by wcruson ·

          In reply to To take over the day to day tech responisbilities

        • #3249101


          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to rent-a-coder

          Seeing as the poster is not an experienced coder, how is is he to judge an applicants skill level ?
          Whereas on the admin side, he knows exactly what he needs.

      • #3247842

        CTI requirements

        by deven.shah ·

        In reply to Reply To: Software developer or network admin

        What are the features expected from the CTI that you are asked to build. I can speak to the IS manager in my organisation who has experience on CTI development.

    • #3341156

      use CTI developer kit

      by dr dij ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      there are TONS of good CTI software environments with APIs and also ones you need to do little programming in, for touch tones, voice reponse, etc. Subscribe for free to Computer Telephony magazine. You can also search the web for the specialized software and download sites probably have demo versions. You can do incredible amounts of stuff with this, maybe look like a hero.

      • #3248266


        by rick_b ·

        In reply to use CTI developer kit

        I agree with Dr.Dij and would add that most of the IP telephony vendors have SDK (Software Devolpment Kits) available for their platform. They available at their web site or by calling the support department.

    • #3340948

      There will be developers out there

      by tony hopkinson ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      who could do it faster and better. If you hire in, you’ve got two options a full specification with as many i’s dotted and t’s crossed as you can. Or get a capable resource for a period of time and then specify and build between you. Unless you are completely sure what you want now, and later I’d recommend the latter.
      Make sure the source code is yours !
      Any outside firm will want to hit you for a maintenance contract, make sure they don’t construct a vice and cunningly place your nuts in it.
      Last but not least whatever option you take, don’t trust anybody to do it right. Learn enough to keep them honest.

      If you feel you can do it in house, then by all means go ahead, it’s not just your skills and ability though it’s your time, it will always take longer than you thought. If it is saving you money, then obviously the longer it takes to get it into place, the more money you spend on it and the less you save with it.

      • #3341377


        by ramrod ·

        In reply to There will be developers out there

        ..I know that these things always take longer than you expected I’m having to juggle though and It’s as clear as day that I cant do it all I can do a lot however. I might go down the route of hiring a developer for a period of time and get him\her to write a few difficult modules and get more specific technical specs in how to move this forward.

        • #3247792

          It would be the way I’d go

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to time

          I’ve always been leery of commissioning turn key solutions from even the most reputable of vendors. It’s not in their interest’s business wise to give you a maintainable, modular or even slightly future proof solution. If you aren’t familiar with the issues they’ll drown you in bs and then sell you a rubber ring that fails before you get to the side. It will be an interesting ethical problem for me if I ever get commissioned on a deliverable myself.

        • #3246949

          Reply To: Software developer or network admin

          by the admiral ·

          In reply to time

          First thing is first. Don’t re-invent the wheel. IF there is source out there to make your job easy then take advantage of it.

          Second, Make sure that it is more than basic and it is scalable. Time and time again I see people who can only do the basics, then when it comes to advanced options, they still have to call in a developer.

          Third, if you call in a developer, understand that any work that they do for you is for hire, so you own the code, they do not. Do not sign a contract contrary to that belief.

        • #3246800

          See whats out there

          by matthewe ·

          In reply to Reply To: Software developer or network admin

          You might be better off checking out what is out there instead of reinventing telephony systems. You can check out and they have some software based telephony systems that are highly customizable.

      • #3246799

        Outsource and still get bonus – get it done right

        by wtotten1 ·

        In reply to There will be developers out there

        Tell your boss that if you were managing the situation (not the IT department as you don’t want him to feel that your questioning his management), based on your assessment, the wisest plan to insure the sucessful development of the software AND the continued success of the IT needs you currently handle, would be to outsource it with you managing the development (project manager). You will earn your bonus by managing it and making sure it gets done right. A high percentage of software development projects don’t get done right, or at all, because of over-worked or incompetent programmers. I would advise against you, with your limited programming experience, taking on a project like this. It will take much longer than either you or your boss estimates and it will be frustrating for everyone.

    • #3246970

      Use your company resources!!

      by grewcockd ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      Firstly if you have an HR dept, get them ‘onside’. If you are ‘stretched too thin’, and have too much ‘on your plate’. Make durned sure HR know about, and keep badgering them until they do something about it!! After all that is part of their remit.

      • #3246966


        by p.janssens ·

        In reply to Use your company resources!!

        Make a list of standard procedures ( e.g. change backup tapes ) and low level first aid tasks ( e.g. unlock user accounts ) and other simple procedures which don’t require specific knowledge.
        Look if someone in your organisation has the skills to aid you (temporarely) with these tasks and transfer those tasks (temporarely).

        Don’t forget to make a quick checkup schedule for yourself to see if all the tasks are done as required.

        Maybe this won’t buy you enough time but then maybe it will give you some breathing space !

        Success !

    • #3246969

      You could try the Eicon cards with their free SDK…

      by spanos ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin


      You could try using Eicon cards ( which are not so expensive, plus they provide a free SDK and samples to build Call and Fax applications.

      We have just started using them to develop integrated fax solutions using VB.NET.


    • #3246965

      Where’s the Business Plan?

      by martin_ternouth ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      I have come across this so often as an employer and a
      consultant that I can almost write this in my sleep.

      “Hey, we could save ourselves thousands/tens of thousands/
      millions of dollars by getting one of our IT guys to write our
      inhouse stuff in his odd five minutes of spare time. Shouldn’t
      take him more than a couple of weeks . . .”

      1. Are the benefits proven?
      2. Is the company prepared to invest money to achieve them?
      3. How reliable are the development plans?
      4. What are the user acceptance criteria?
      5. Who will provide full documentation for on-going support in
      your absence?

      Just five questions out of a thousand. If your product doesn’t
      work and continue to work to the same supported standards of
      what the company is now spending tens of thousands on then
      you will be blamed. Get them to treat this exactly as if it were
      an external procurement so that you know precisely what it is
      you are expected to provide. Do not muddle on dazzled by the
      prospect of the bonus in the middle distance, because it will
      remain in the middle distance unless you have a firm schedule to
      secure it. If you don’t, I guarantee that on the day you hand over
      what you think to be the finished product, you will have twice
      the work you have put in to that date to get it just like they want
      it. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

      • #3246918

        Amen to your Business Plan

        by andeanderson ·

        In reply to Where’s the Business Plan?

        The old dream of saving thousands by doing it yourself will always turn out to be just that, a dream.

        Somehow, we forget that the most valuable asset we have is our time and do not add that or the additional resources needed to accomplish the project to the actual cost of a project. There is no such thing as a free software package. You will end up paying for it in money, time or most likely both.

        How serious the people are that want you to do this can be measured by how much support and authority they are willing to provide you to get it done. Is there a budget set-up for the project? Will you have to have their approval for each and every purchase of equipment and outside contracting when it is needed?

        Plus, no two people will want the package to do the same thing so you will be constantly trying to make it do the impossible – Everything to Everyone.

        As for the “Bonus”, it will actually cost you more in the long run than the promised “Bonus” would ever be, IF you ever receive it. Because In-House Projects are never completed to the satisfaction of the people who wanted it.

        If you still want to tackle such a project, we are all independent and think we can do it ourselves until we hit that brick wall, make sure it is in writing, spelled out and funded. Just like a good Business Plan or Contract.

        • #3246804

          what business are you in

          by roberts184 ·

          In reply to Amen to your Business Plan

          along the lines of a business plan to help clarify what you are doing, what business does your company do? if it has nothing to do with software development and they are only interested in saving money on licensing costs, then say no thanks to the project. if they are involved in software development, build the business plan to show how many different companies you could sell this customized interface to and make a profit.

        • #3248169


          by ramrod ·

          In reply to what business are you in

          The nature of the business is call centre outsourcing work\telemarketing. We take on work that our clients do not need to set up dedicated outbound\sales\research\appointment setting call centres of their own.

    • #3246963

      what’s next?

      by pivert ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      I see you’re heading for (personal)disaster 🙂 The question is not: can I do it but will you be able to take that also on your shoulders? I don’t question your tech skills, enough tips have been given in prev posts but 1 person for 110 users? and you’re feeling stretched already? Have fun with your bonus – if you have time to enjoy it. (sorry for the negative undertone but ‘been there done that’, have them instead invest in a real it-dept)

      • #3246960

        Tsk tsk…

        by neildsouza ·

        In reply to what’s next?

        RAMROD…. I absolutely agree with Pivert. 110 users? Ohmygosh! Either your workplace is a train wreck ready to happen, or it is already a train wreck.

        I’m sorry man, but ideally you should be handling 15-20 PCs, 5-7 more if they are Macs 😉

        There’s no way you can get your attention to all those problems. I sure hope your boss understands this.

        And if you’re managing all this, hope you’re getting paid double, triple… and-a-half…

        • #3246955

          Not to pile on…. but…..

          by bubmiller ·

          In reply to Tsk tsk…

          I agree to some extent with the previous two post and would like to add that programming an application will had a new dimension to your job that you will never be completely be able to anticipate.

          If you are thinking that you will simply be able to write this app once and be done with it, then you are setting yourself up for endless frustration. I have working in and around application development for most of my 16 years in IT. No matter how simple an application you develop, the application will develop a life of it’s own. You will be responsible for all aspects of the applcation from training to documentation. There will always be requests for changes that the users will see as very small and won’t be able to comprehend why it will take you months to get them done.

          If you don’t have a formal process in place already, which as a one man shop I suspect you don’t, adding applicaton development and maintenance to the mix will probably drive you to the breaking point. There is a value in the money being spent on the current software that your director does not see.

          I wish you luck and I don’t want to be negative, but application development is more that just writing code and if you don’t have expectations set at the right level, you will be setting yourself up for failure. I work as a team leader supporting a site of 600 computers (Intel + 10 HPUX) with 3 other team members and I am very careful to keep my programming background hidden, because I know that I will not be able to do my current job if I get sucked into all the “programming” projects I could do.

    • #3246962


      by lukemarklincoln ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin


      I am a devloper who is and have been working on delivering complete software systems from scratch and know what you face. My software isnt as critical as a voip system and I have been on the same project for the last 4 months. I wouldnt say your project is impossible but it would take at least 12 months at a push.

      What your boss is proposing is going to take a singular developer far too long to implement. Why design it from scratch when there are already solutions that you can deliver – the open source system:

      Wont cost you anything unless you want to subscrive for support, just the config. Its secure – non windows based system. Could save you a big headache.


      Luke Lincoln

    • #3246959

      ? of really being a bonus

      by mpatten ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      Would it really be a bonus to do all this extra work on top of what you must already be doing, plus having to take on this project? I know from being in a similiar situation that the $ will not ease the stress and workload. Question whether an assistant would cost more than the benefit of having some of your duties relieved to put towards this new project. Would it be cheaper in the long run to purchase the software or have it developed third party? Besides, if you crash and burn, where is the company going to be at without you at the helm? No easy answers, but they will point you in the right direction if you answer them honestly. Best of luck.

    • #3246944

      Get more help!!

      by gothicscott ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      I understand the plights of small companies, however this does not excuse them from running their IT —department which is you, into the ground. You must consider, no matter how well you code, you’re still going to wind up modifying, and supporting it when users start to untilize it in the company. I would lobby very hard at least for a part time administrator or tech support person to handle the basic network and user demands so you can work in peace.
      good luck …


    • #3246942

      Reply To: Software developer or network admin

      by tstaight ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      I’ve been working as a one person IT team doing network and database management for a small company of 150-200 users for about five years, develop software, and am finishing my work on a Masters degree. You can accomplish the task without burning yourself out by applying the following concepts.

      – Automate all maintenance
      – Replace equipment in 3 year cycles
      – Have your internal customers form the bulk of your specifications
      – Have regular meetings with department leaders in order to form priorities
      – Creates systems that users use as opposed to systems that you must operate
      (Get out of reporting by giving them the tools)
      – Build excellent remote access for you and the organization
      – Design your schedule using flex time if necessary
      – Remember perception is reality (If they believe that you are performing well, you are…)

      During the last five years I have replaced ERP systems, written customized solutions related to BI, document management, and other MIS systems while running the entire IT enterprise. Plus I currently attend Masters courses and week long conferences. If I can do it so can you.

      Best of luck.

      Tom Staight
      Information Systems
      Ext 141

    • #3246939

      tell the cheap bastard

      by answerman ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      Tell the cheap bastard to give you a reasonable budget, which includes the ability to hire a programmer, (even after hours side-job proggy
      that want incentive bonus money)…. THAT is your strength…. To MANAGE this project.

      This guy would have to change his underwear if he got a quote for what a telephony software project really costs….. lol

      Seriously dude, prepare your timeline, budget, goal breaks, testing phase, implementation phases, final testing, etc….. and get a quote from a fellow IT project person. Then cut it in half, and present THAT to HIM, instead of this “carrot-dangling” IT people will do anything cause they all on sale” attitude that is prevalent in today’s world….

      Good luck.

    • #3246938

      Take care!

      by talentonloan ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      I would be real careful about this. Depending upon what your higher ups view your position to be, even if you do the ‘heroic’ act and pull of the software development, you may get the bonus, but raise the expectation that (even as your organization may grow and other responsibilities become part of your regular job) you can of course ‘do whatever it takes.’ This will lead to many more long, and probably uncompensated hours.

      Were I your manager, I would be more impressed with your ability to find and direct an independent developer to do this (including setting up maintenance) If you pulled it off, within budget, and were able to continue all of the other functions, you would get the bonus. But then I don’t write your paycheck.

      What is the price of your family life? on your soul?


    • #3246935

      Why reinvent the wheel….. Asterisk Linux is your answer

      by vance9 ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      Asterisk Linux is a platform for exactly doing this. It has saved companies like yours 10’s of thousands of dollars. It has every feature known to the telephony world and is actually easy to setup.


    • #3246932

      Wight the priority

      by th7711 ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      Do you have another more important task to complete? If the answer is yes, put a case to your boss and ask for his priority. Then, you may find the fund to outsource the CTI project without lossing your bonus, may be have a credit as you can “manage” your tasks. As suggested, you can go to college or Open source for more resources.

      Personally, I thinkyou shoul dtake up the development by yourselves.

    • #3246928

      Reply To: Software developer or network admin

      by chinrich ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      WOW, this is so similar to my friend who not only is a One person IT team but is also the accountant and software developer. I don’t know what to tell you. I am just suprised at how often I am hearing about this situation. He explains it as a blessing and a curse.

      • #3248420

        Non IT Admins Don’t Have a Clue

        by xitmanager ·

        In reply to Reply To: Software developer or network admin

        Just to put my 2-cents in…I spent 23 years building and supporting a single person support shop in a Health Care center. I was the sole tech for over 200 users, with 2 part time students for help. I maintained telephone, networking , VMS hardware and software on a mini as well as all the PC support. In addition I programmed critical interfaces to our systems. Last year I was “moved” out of my position because I was not moving forward fast enough. I was spending too much time supporting the programming and I didn’t have an advanced degree. So my advice to you is…you can never do enough. Do everything you can to get support staff.

        • #3247242

          advanced degree

          by ramrod ·

          In reply to Non IT Admins Don’t Have a Clue

          …can I ask when you say advanced degree are you saying that you lost your position because you did not have the qualification that is a degree? As in a university degree? Surely your real world experience and track record should speak for itself? So much so that you do not have to lose a job because you don’t have the paper (degree certificate)?

        • #3247152

          re. advanced degree

          by xitmanager ·

          In reply to advanced degree

          Yeah…I have a B.S. in Computer Science but an outside consultant issued a report stating that the IT Director position should have a Masters which I don’t have. 24 years of mixed hardware, software and programming didn’t mean much to them. Funny thing, they brought in an interim guy WITH the degree and no real experience in PC support, health care systems, VMS etc. and he was gone in 2 months. Its been a year and they still haven’t filled the position. Don’t ask me to comment on the outside consultants…its a very bad topic with me.

    • #3246923

      there we go again …

      by mrtgrady ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      If you’ve not an experienced CTI programmer then although the cost of producing a solution may only be your time, the cost of supporting it is the time you lose from doing the rest of your job properly. The ROI on a self-made solution is lost to supporting it unless you get it right first time and I guarantee you won’t do that!

      The saving made in buying in a solution will come in the form of the fact you can get on with doing your job and that a bought in solution will have warranties and possibly tech support as part of the deal.

      If your boss is offering a bonus on saving money then buying in a good solution should be justification enough to get it.

      • #3246884

        Where will it end

        by michaelpo ·

        In reply to there we go again …

        I think 110 users can be managable or overwhelming based on tools, standards and type/age of equipment. If you do it right, you might even have some free time for your database stuff. It sounds like your Director will just keep piling it on as long as you keep getting it done. This project looks like trouble, when added to your primary duties. Is the possibility of a bonus really worth it?

    • #3246914

      Hire IT Tech Temp

      by jms1024 ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      You could hire short term (from a staffing firm or local IT college) a tech to help with the day-to-day responsibilities while you program. Saving the company a LOT of money ought to mean they could invest a little to get some short term help for a special project.

      We contacted the local college that taught IT courses to find someone new and inexpensive. We weren’t looking for someone to come in and change things, just to do what we asked. Worked for us and in the end we actually hired one fellow (because we lost another one due to illness.)

      I agree that you ought to consider asking for some money though to help as without this EXTRA project you were already 100% committed. Asking the company to put up some dough is one way to find out what they really are wanting to do as well.

      • #3244235

        Great advice

        by mtnweb ·

        In reply to Hire IT Tech Temp

        I totally agree – you should hire a temp to help you with the day-to-day IT tasks so you can focus on programming. The suggestion about contacting your local college is very good – you may find a student who needs to do a practicum. He or she will gain valuable experience while you get the help you need, and that person’s salary would be less than that of a programmer. Good luck!

    • #3246913

      Think Outside the Box!

      by pmwpaul ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      Design HOW you’re going to develop this software. Put it in writing with the associated priorities that occur with your job now.
      For example:
      Beginning Stage
      Intermediate Stage
      Finishing Stage
      Intergration Stage

      Job Priorities
      Desk-side support
      Network Support
      Administrative Support
      Software Development

      You can also add the average time per day for each task.

      Instead of outsourcing the software development, why not “temp” an assistant to take care of the low priority tasks?

      The important part is to have a design of how you’re going to accomplish this. And then have the appropiate managers sign it in agreement so when it begins there’s no question about the priorities.

      Good Luck!

    • #3246888

      Use Asterisk

      by john_shadow ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      I feel that everyone has pretty much covered the topic of being stretched thin. However, I haven’t read anyone that’s actually answered your question. Might I suggest using Asterisk? It’s an opensource PBX system, and hopefully would get you most if not all the functionality you need. Keep in mind it runs on Linux, so hopefully that won’t be a problem for you. There’s one distribution of it (Asterisk@Home) with a nice front end and helps you set it up rather quickly. In addition, there are some commercial GUI front ends, read more about that here:

      Hope that helps! 🙂

    • #3246874

      Use Open Source

      by ajanta ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin


      There are a lot of components and application code available in open source now. Take advantage of it. I could help you locate the components if you could let me know what application you are trying to replace.


    • #3246860

      Benefits of contractors

      by czapinski ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve come across situations like yours, where you find you could use the help, but are forced to weigh the pros and cons of your time, money, etc.

      The first step is you realizing you need the help. At this point, exploring your options for outside temporary help, is most likely your best bet, since you sound like you’re in a bind. If you bring in a skilled person to assist you, you can get the project completed in a timely fashion, save the company all that money-and be a hero, and not be as stressed out.

      If you make your director aware of your needs, he may consider extending the task out or find someone to help you. In doing so, you still end up saving the company all that money, get the job done right, and with that said, they should consider giving you the bonus for getting the job done-with or without assistance.

      If it ends up that you need a contractor, I work for a company that specializes in working with niche people for contract and contract-for-hire positions in IT. I’d be happy to help. Best of luck!

    • #3246850

      Possible Setup for Failure

      by black-eyed pea ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      I lived this scenario! Only, I was tasked to develop an equipment lease management package to replace crappy software my company was paying out the nose for.

      My friend, this is a possible setup for failure. I can testify to that. Even if you were a C# expert, I would cast a jaundiced eye your way. In order for software development to be successful, you have to have excellent project management, sufficient resources, and realistic deadlines (among other things). You have none of those.

      You don’t want to go in and tell your boss that you can’t do it from the get go – that is bad PR. On the other hand, you don’t want to drag this out until your failure becomes so apparent that they want to fire you.

      Your management needs to have their eyes opened to the facts. I personally would read a book on project management. That will give you an idea of what it might take. Then make a believable proposal that is well thought out and has at least two options.

      Applications need to be developed with functionality, stability, and security in mind. You don’t want a cobble-job app that becomes the company joke.

      At the company I mentioned above, I put together a proposal that convinced management that I could not possibly do it alone and still manage the network (my forte). They had two options – outsource the project or purchase COTS that fulfilled most of their requirements.

      Unfortunately, they opted to outsource. They only hired two developers and set a six month deadline. Three years later, they continue to develop a product that has become the company joke. I still ended up with my bonuses, raises, and valuable experience for maintaining the network and providing excellent customer service. I have since moved on to bigger and better things.

      Good luck!

      • #3247887

        I agree

        by zt3000 ·

        In reply to Possible Setup for Failure

        You have to decide how much free time and interest in this project you have.
        I would have to agree with Black-eyed Pea.

        They want you to save them tens of thousands.
        Probably in your spare time, right?
        Either they have no clue how hard this will be or they are setting you up for a kill.
        Run Away, if you don’t, live and learn.

    • #3246842

      Another Example..

      by fitzgb2002 ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      .. of the ignorance of business leaders. Unfortunately, too many time bosses see the word “computer” without understanding that there are different aspects of the business. I’m not saying that that the one-man shops arent’t capable, but the time constraints of people who already have their hands full aren’t taken into account. When the IT community as a whole finally stands up and says NO!, things will begin to change. Otherwise, we as an industry are doomed to do more and more with less and less.

      Stand up to the cheap son-of-a-“gun” and tell him to buy a package that can do what he wants. Also, remind him of the contributions you make to the company and how much it will cost him to train someone new if you leave. Best way to stop a bully is to stand up to him/her. If you have the skills, you can get another job.

      • #3246826

        Plan of action?

        by ramrod ·

        In reply to Another Example..

        All your contributions have been very helpful. I’m researching a few of them right now actually. I had over the past 3 months been taking one day a week to work exclusively at home on this project. And as time moved on I found what I stated above. I unravelled it all and things became even more complicated. Based on comments and my own obesrvations I will proceed as follows

        1. Hire a professional contractor for the next two to three weeks to help me on further locking down the tech specs, I wont be going to any software development houses because they are likely to pump out a whole lot of B.S in order to make a steady stream of income of this.
        2. I will then continue coding after he has left
        3. Get an IT temp to do the basic network tasks (not looking for some cheeky whizzkid but someone who will follows instructions and help me to keep the network running).
        4. As for the ongoing program maintenance and modifications I don’t know right now?

        ….what do you think?

        • #3246820


          by black-eyed pea ·

          In reply to Plan of action?

          Ignore this.

        • #3246817

          Objective Third Party

          by black-eyed pea ·

          In reply to Plan of action?

          Having an objective third party professional help nail down your project requirements is an excellent step in the right direction. That is a crucial step I neglected to include in my previous post. It will give more clout to your proposal. After doing that, I would not be surprised if your plan of action changed quite a bit.

          Based on the requirements you and your professional contractor come up with, COTS or open source software may turn out to be the best option.

          If development is what you really want to do for your career, then your plan of action may work. If you prefer to stay on the system/network administration track, then have someone else do the coding.

    • #3246825


      by gometrics ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      Just realize you are taking on a significant risk by being the only goto IT person. Keeping the network running is a high profile service and now you may be adding a high profile telephony system.

      You can go from hero to goat real quick. Just make sure management has realistic expectations. Good luck!

    • #3246823

      More money up front normally means less for support

      by mikeblane ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      Note: Please understand that with this answer, I’m not minimizing your skills as an IP Professional.

      If you are willing to pay for a solution that’s already available, you get two benefits: the functionality (or at least some) that you need now, and a support system for that functionality.

      Once you’ve bought a company’s product, they may also solicit enhancements that you think would benefit your company. If they have a beta program, that’s worth checking into as well.

      If you are forced into writing the solution yourself and there are problems, how many hours would it take to find and fix that problem? How long will your company services be down while you write the fix? These are the types of questions that could easily help justify a purchase of an already existing product.

    • #3246822


      by tfbu ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      I have built IVR systems for 15 yrs, starting with the 900 boom. I have been using Asterisk this last year and I could not do it better for less no matter how I tried.

      Jump to RedHat linux and Asterisk.

    • #3246815

      Don’t focus on your bonus

      by eric.p ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      If your main goal with this is to get a bonus, you’re going at things completely backwards. Do what you have to to get the job done right and the bonus will take care of itself.

    • #3246805


      by br-549 ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      I spent most of carrer in this trap (even though I had a department of 12). We kept building systems, but, were never allowed to budget to maintain them. Even if you manage to get it built on the cheap; who is going to maintain it?

      If you have not seen the graphic of the iceberg look it up. Just like an iceberg, which is 2/3 under water, 2/3 of the cost of a system comes in after it is in production (maintenance, support, help desk, enhancements).

      If you don’t go along you are not a “team player” if you build it you will have even less time to do your job for evermore, because you are the expert on this system.

      If you outsource development, you will not achieve the cost savings the PHB is looking for, but more importantly, you have outsourced the institutional knowledge necessary to maintain and move the system forward in future years.

      Time to find a new job. The sooner you realize that your are working for Dilbert’s boss the better of you will be somewhere else.

    • #3248171

      Sounds like my job

      by dilbert9 ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      I ended up in a similar situation. I support all of our in-house users (60 desktops), administer a small ASP of 2-300 remote users, provide first line phone support for 1500 medical offices, go out on-site to install the software we rep and develop, build around 150 white box clones a year and I administer our phone and email systems. I also handle the administraton for twelve ecommerce sites that are hosted in-house. I drive around 3000 miles a month doing on-site support and installs.

      When I was told last month I would have to take over the on-site installs of the backup tech so he could transfer to application development, I put my foot down and refused. Management is finally considering hiring a second tech/administrator to share the load.

    • #3248138

      Value Your Time

      by craig.engel ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      Be very careful. This is an area that almost all new or young administrators find themselves, thinking that all they need to do is to “just write a small script,” and life will be good. Often, it’s a manager or customer who throws this idea out in order to solve a sticky problem. But the problem really is this: they don’t want to pay to have the problem fixed. The perception is that your time and services are already paid for, so they are essentially free. Unfortunately, IT people tend to be lousy at basic economics. There is no free lunch – Milton Friendman.

      Anyone with a few years of professional software development will be able to tell you this:
      1) Good software development takes time. If software development were easy, then the joker telling you to write the code could do it.
      2) All software development projects are unerestimated. Nothing ever takes 5 minutes.
      3) All software that is actually deployed to a production environment increases ongoing support and maintenance costs. It doesn’t matter who wrote the code, if it’s commercial or in-house.
      4) Don’t underestimate the impact of opportunity costs. Time spent coding new software or poviding ongoing support for existing in-house software is time that you cannot spend doing anything else – like your job.
      5) If the company wants custom in-house developed code written all the time, they should budget, staff and organize around a professional software development group, the let you go to that group for your projects.

    • #3248134

      What happens if you get run over by a truck?

      by ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      I’m not being facetious here – I had a friend of mine who was killed (at the age of 32) in a motorcycle accident. Asside from the grief of losing a good friend, there was the problem of supporting all the things he had done. Evidently he had implemented several systems (in different programming languages) and was the only guy who understood how they worked or what they did. One of the systems was not even Y2K compliant and he was fixing it by hand each day while trying to find the problem.
      Who knew? The guy was getting things done and nobody bothered to look over his shoulder to check on things like documentation, testing, etc.

      110 customers seems like a lot for a Windows environment. You could do it on a Mac, maybe, Linux for sure if you are clever, but I’ll bet you’re using Windows. You need one or deputies.

      • #3248121

        Aye but whether he does this development

        by tony hopkinson ·

        In reply to What happens if you get run over by a truck?

        himself or buys it in, won’t change the fact that the people he works for are excessively vulnerable. Documentation always takes a back seat in one man shops, after all you have a living one available and he’s the only one who needs it anyway. Right ?. Well no wrong actually, but management have to facilitate the solution and employees are a cost not an asset in bean counter terminology.
        You’ve got to be very careful how you explain this one, they’ll turn I’m being professional here, in to this guy’s trying to blackmail us in very short order.

        • #3248062

          You are working yourself into burn out…probably?

          by beoweolf ·

          In reply to Aye but whether he does this development

          I was in the same situation for several years. Company wanted to save money, so as people move on to less stressful positions, I was “allowed” to put on more and more hats. Mail, Exchange, SQL, Migration/AD implementation, Backup, Firewall, mail/FAX solution, server, WAN, remote support, OWA, VPN….you know the drill. The more I took on (promises of bonus too), the more stuff was heaped on the plate.

          You are in a no-win situation, if you succeed…it’s obvious that it couldn’t have been “that” hard…and if you fail, you’ll be blamed for wasting time, effort on something beyond your ability. Since you have already taken on the task, you best recourse is to hire someone to take on the day-to-day system management. Then you can concentrate on completing the project. Carve out either the evening (or morning) to devote, exclusively to the development project, spend the other part of the day, working with your surrogate (an intern would be perfect for that), so user support, confidence is maintained.

          Not to doubt your ambitions, I seriously believe this is a bit much for untrained, first time junior programmer to attempt. But since you must, at least give your self the best chance for success.

          If you run into insurmountable problems, then bring in a consultant to help with that portion of the code. Clear this contingence with your manager, make it simple so he can understand that some things are better farmed out, rather than spending the time for you to get up to speed. Your job would be better as a project manager/analyst, than strictly as a programmer?unless that is your ultimate goal. I think of programming much the same as I would think of turning my system over to someone working at the help desk. Its not as easy as it looks, especially if you are doing it right, with documentation, error control and proper error checking, graceful shutdown. It could be a case where you don?t even know what you don?t know.

          Bottom line; you really need to give some thought as to when it is better to delegate and what to delegate. The visibility of this project, now that you have accepted it, makes it very important that you complete it…one way or the other. Even if you have to go to you manager with a packaged solution (and an explanation) it will be better than trying to learn coding and maintaining your user satisfaction level at the expense of your long term (mental) health.

        • #3247960

          Presume this was addressed to the original poster

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to You are working yourself into burn out…probably?

          Strange how many one man shops you bump into, seems to be a popular mistake for business’. Excellent grounding for us if you can avoid the nervous breakdown though. I left for more authority, less responsibility and a ?10k rise in pay.
          Worth it for me, doesn’t sound like good business for the short sighted fools who created the situation though.
          Do want to gain experience as a DBA, a Net Admin and a developer.
          Er OK then
          Course you need to do all three for a goodly amount of time before you can be confident about your skill level, and theres no way you can be an ‘expert’ in all three at the same time, not unless you invent successful human cloning in your spare time.

    • #3248101

      Astrix unix based PBX is opensource

      by ronn ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      check out the asterix software. Its awesome and easy to make custom modules.

    • #3248074

      Big Job

      by jmoxon ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      As someone who has headed a team of developers in providing telephony I would give you the following advice:1 use Linux telephony -all you need to understand is the application specifics, some Linux Admin tools and how to interface with Voice T1’s and possible Nortel or whatever brand of switch you are using. This will provide you with such things as DID (Direct Inward Dialing features, call routing, rules pertaining to off hour call handling (such as voice mail, announcements, wait times et.)

      However if you are doing something for a call center such as handling incoming call queues, outgoing predictive dialing etc. then you are looking at an enormous task that will require a dedicated person or even team to develop. I had a team of 4 devlopers working for over a year on this project. The cost of buying the software was ab obout the same as writing it but by writing it we at least knew in-house what the software did and how to cusomize it as wll as having all of the source code.
      If you are doing outbound call center applications you must also understand alot about tarriffs, laws pertaining to don’t call lists and don’t call hours etc which vary by state and also the percent of dropped (calls you initiate but can’t get a person on the line quickly enough when answered) as well as host of other issues-this requires at least a consultant to set you on the right path so your company doesn’t get fined.

      Good Luck

    • #3248046


      by bpatlen ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      The TeleVantage server-based phone system (PC-PBX system) by Vertical Communications, Inc. (formerly ArtiSoft) is great! I was forced into a similar situation and found this solution to be easy, economical, and gave us WAY MORE than if I was to do it myself or hire someone to create the app for us. Don’t be fooled by the product lit regarding IP…it can do ALL of that and more, but the cool thing is that it works “out-of-the-box” with ANY phone…especially plain-old analog phones or your existing ones. We saved a bundle going this route rather than a proprietary system and don’t have to hassle with software compatability/life cycle issues. Check it out!

    • #3248032

      Live with it

      by Anonymous ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      Quit your whining. This type of request has been going on for years. Our ability to meet requests like this is what built up your salary.
      A lot of us don’t have regular jobs anymore. Maybe you should remember the challenges you were ready to meet when you entered this field. When did your career dreams become a series of “bonuses”?

    • #3247970


      by jmgarvin ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      Why don’t you get a full blown open source software PBX?


      It will save you time and hassle. It works with VoIP and configures pretty well with most equipment. It is pretty easy to setup and there are some nice GUIs out there for it.

      • #3247845

        More than just the telephony

        by ramrod ·

        In reply to Asterisk

        The telephony is probably the easier part of the whole picture. What we need to also be able to do is fullfill certain backend functions such as a dedicated reporting\data exporting module. Another very important aspect is the ability for team managers to be able to create scripts that agents read from. There are also the basic functions such as user access levels to the application itself i.e are you an agent or a manager and call list\queueing management.

        • #3248236

          Asterisk Should work for you

          by jmgarvin ·

          In reply to More than just the telephony

          I’d take a good look at Asterisk. It should work for you, plus the GUI front ends have “client” and “server” flavors that can clear up what person sees what.

          You can have a pretty good setup, plus Asterisk has a ton of addons out there to fit your needs.

    • #3247956


      by smbooher ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      If the app you need is complex, then It could be a much better bet to start with some freeware that has open-source code development and make some minor, documented changes to support your efforts. Or, outsource and require thurough documentation as a deliverable. Support in the future is your worst enemy should you remain with this company. Your time,ETC. is valuable. There is a reason for having other companies with records of “longevity” develop “for” you.And if it is well documented, and your contract states that you own the finished product, then licensing is not an issue.
      Good Luck

    • #3247879

      Add Value

      by sykese@singnet ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      Like many who have replied to your post, I too have encountered simillar circumstances.

      The bottom line here is that you have done an exceptional job managing a 100+ user Infrastructure on your own.

      In order to resolve your issue while securing your chances of a bonus, may I suggest the following:

      1)Talk to the Director. Determine his motives for bringing up this topic.

      2)Build a Business Plan for a CTI solution. A good place to start is in evaluating some of the solutions featured on this thread.

      3)Determine the cost-benefit ratio for your chosen solution; it is critical here that you show savings to the company’s bottom line; eg. how your solution would save the company actual dollars in Telephone costs…

      4) Present the solution to the Management team in your company.

      If, after doing all the above, you have failed to deliver the expected savings and Return on Investment for a CTI solution, at the very least you have shown that you have complied to the Director’s suggestion. Thus justifying your job and possible bonus.

      Conversely, if you succeed in getting Management to approve your solution (and potential costs savings; which you would then need to deliver), you would not only have complied with the above but also have saved the company money and time (while improving productivity and all the other BS etc). Hence, you could justify additional head count for your department or a raise, at the very least… or both!

      Remember, IT people have always been credited for their ability to think ‘outside the box’. This is exactly what you should spend your time and resources on…

      Good Luck.

    • #3247878

      Be very very wary.

      by ozi eagle ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      Hi Ramrod,

      I’m not sure exactly what the cti software is meant to do, but if it is to measure usage and traffic in your telephony network, be very very wary. This is a highly specialised field that requires and excellent knowledge of statistics, traffic measurement theory etc.
      Having gone through the process of trying to source a system to do this, some years ago, and seeing all the starters that couldn’t come up with the goods, I wouldn’t even contemplate trying to write it myself.

      • #3247844

        A bit more than that

        by ramrod ·

        In reply to Be very very wary.

        The telephony is probably the easier part of the whole picture. What we need to also be able to do is fullfill certain backend functions such as a dedicated reporting\data exporting module. Another very important aspect is the ability for team managers to be able to create scripts that agents read from. There are also the basic functions such as user access levels to the application itself i.e are you an agent or a manager and call list\queueing management.

    • #3248432

      CTI is a mix of PBX and the Desktop interface

      by jrevier ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      This seems to me to be a matter of not programming an app from the ground up but understanding first PBX that the telephony data will be coming from. Many PBX’s today have a CTI interface API already developed and desktop software available.

      Avaya as the major telephony vendor in this space and my best advice would be to start to understnad what the given PBX that you are working on has to offer. Much if not all of the work has been done in many PBX interfaces. The database dips may have to be customized but if the API is already present then it may be simply some SQL calls.



    • #3248416

      Don’t touch it!

      by bikingbill ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      Even supposing it’s easy to write & implement, who’s going to support it? Who will they call out of hours? Who will they call when you’re on holiday? I bet I can answer those questions! Worse, what will they say to you if your ‘phone is switched off while you’re in the cinema or at your child’s birthday party?
      If you are currently paying too much then shop around, but one-man IT departments should never do development.

    • #3249104

      Ignore this

      by tony hopkinson ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      How in ‘ells name did my response get down here ?

      Because that’s where I posted ?

      Oh well maybe.

    • #3247469

      Where to get help with CTI

      by ajalpha ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      I worked at Sprint and they have a developers website that might be of some help to you. If that doesn’t work, try to contact Von McConnel (he is in Research) because his group was very heavy into CTI and although they apply for patents for everything that they do he will probably at least give you some direction or help.

    • #3247415


      by chandlermiller ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      This will not help, but while the bonus may be important you can work yourself to death in this business. I lost two kidneys and eleven years of good health working on multiple systems projects over the last twenty years. Now that a transplant has solved the health problem, my employer wants to clone five of me.

      Privately, I say good luck and people in hell want ice water.

      • #3247344


        by why me worry? ·

        In reply to Stretch

        I’m pretty sure he realized you are already stretched thin, and giving you this additional crap to worry about is simply irresponsible and careless management on his part. I’v been in this situation before where I was a one man IT guy working for a greedy telemarketing firm. I managed their servers, fixed and upgraded their PCs’, and also wrote some code for their stupid contact management application which was written in Clipper/DBASE. It all came down to me getting so overworked and burned out that I simply had a nervous breakdown and quit. You should not allow yourself to be turned into a slave and worked to the point of seeing your own health suffer. If I were you, I would start looking to get the hell out of there and work for a real company with a structured IT dept, not a one man shop that expects you to pull rabbits out of your ass and perform miracles.

    • #3247343

      Software developer or network admin

      by phillologist ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      You will have to decide what is more important bonus or no bonus or you can take someone in a junior role to handle small jobs while you focus on developing your software. I hope this helps but remember your health come first.

    • #3246370

      One man IT department

      by angry_white_male ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      I gotta wonder how many of you “one man show” IT types are single – my wife would leave me if I were in a similar situation with the 12 hour days, stress and crankiness. There aren’t enough hours in the day to run a network, keep end-users happy and program a telco app from the ground up.

      Looks like they’re already saving a boatload of $$$ by having only one IT person and running you into the ground. When you burn out and go on disability for a stress-related illness, where does that leave the company?

      Anyway – back to the original question. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. You have several options: hire a programmer so you can be the IT guy, hire an IT guy so you can be the programmer, or outsource the project so if it’s screwed up you have someone to blame.

      If you have your eyes on the bonus – then you’re doing so at the expense of your own well being. Keep your eye off the prize and maintain a realistic workload and staff the IT department appropriately.

    • #3244644

      Been there

      by yennhile ·

      In reply to Software developer or network admin

      Your story is just exactly what I went thru the past two years, working as an IT Admin for a small company on humble salary and was asked to develop different projects. One of them was a java project that I had to outsource other developers to work on. However, I ended up having no job after that project. So my advice is Be careful for what you will be offered or compensated, especially when you outsource the other “contractor”

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