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staffing a 30-computer network???

By hesperiano ·
Hi.

My boss and I are trying to assess how much staff time it takes to administer a 30-computer network. (Right now I'm spending about 30% of my time.) It's an NT network with 25 PCs and 3 Macs. We're on DSL and have a Netopia router with a built-in firewall. Nobody connects remotely -- yet -- but that's something I want to set up. We don't host our own website or email -- yet -- but that's also something we're looking into. There's a fairly low level of technical literacy on staff.

Please let me know what your experience has been.

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1 full timer should do it

by TomSal In reply to staffing a 30-computer ne ...

Hi.

You have proposed a question with far too many variables to just shot back a "%" of time.

My suggestion is to hire a single "dedicated" network administration person.. He/she will take care of it all for you.

That person, in their idletime (after everything is initally set up) could use their time handling IT management issues like inventory tracking, developing a recovery plan, routine maintenance on the machines, IT budgeting issues (obviously this has to be worked out with theowner/CEO/President/CFO, etc.).

But that's just my opinion.

good luck.

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dedicated

by ferocious In reply to 1 full timer should do it

Great answer. I had a similar experience at a company that was always looking for new ways to increase productivity. I was the go-to guy for everything IT, including the supervision of contract support. They freed me up for performing all the inventory control and other non-issues that got tacked on to my daily responsibilities.

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by jenc In reply to 1 full timer should do it

I agree with TomSal. I currently support two groups (half time each) and they are both between 30-40 people. Once the new person gets everything set up, inventoried, etc., then they can work on additional projects.

Depending on your situation, it doesn't usually seem like 30 people can keep one person busy full time. So, your alternatives are to build in other projects for them to work on, or to hire someone less qualified and let them use the extra time to learn.

Just as a reference, my friend works for the Social Security Agency (well, sort of) and their policy is that if it is over 25 machines, they hire someone.

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stable vs changing

by pschuvie In reply to staffing a 30-computer ne ...

I guess there are two questions in response. One, is everything getting done that should be? And two, what action is generating the question?

If everything is getting done, and done well, then the staffing level is adequate barring the answer tothe second question.

If there are things on the horizon that will directly impact the required resource then it may/maynot remain adequeate, even though there seems to be much room in the time allocation.

My experience has been that the amountof time devoted to administration is most widely affected by the amount of change within an organization and the ability/failure to recognize the influence this has.

In a highly stable environment, one with little end user turnover and/or a mature set of applications, the level is often low. One caveat would be can be when processes or activities occur that are by nature admin intensive.

As an example, I encountered a full time person doing operations work which had been done routinely for years even though the business model had changed significantly downward. Process review showed that over 50% of the activity was no longer supported or was of questionable value. Thus reorganizing this effort achieved an administration reductionof 50%. Hardware and software changes can have similar impacts.

In an environment where user turnover is high peaks can occur and a leveled view needs to be taken while allowing for the peaks.

In environments where process changes or new process introductions are present there is a greater amount of time required as both processes have to be taken care of. This added impact should decline over time but the length of time before decline can vary widely. Additionally, the how of processchange, planned versus spur of the moment, does directly impact the requirement for and allocation of resources.

In my opinion one of the primary considerations for staffing

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stable vs changing

by pschuvie In reply to staffing a 30-computer ne ...

I guess there are two questions in response. One, is everything getting done that should be? Two, what action is generating the question?

If everything is getting done, and done well, then the staffing level is adequate barring the answer to thesecond question.

If there are things on the horizon that will directly impact the required resource then it may/maynot remain adequeate, even though there seems to be much room in the time allocation.

My experience has been that the amount of time devoted to administration is most widely affected by the amount of change within an organization and the ability/failure to recognize the influence this has.

In a highly stable environment, little end user turnover and/or a mature set of applications, the level is often low. One caveat would be when processes or activities occur that are by nature admin intensive.

As an example, I encountered a full time person doing operations work which had been done routinely for years even though the business model had changed significantly downward. Process review showed that over 50% of the activity was no longer supported or was of questionable value. Thus reorganizing this effort achieved an administration reduction of 50%. Hardware and software and business growth changes can have similar impacts.

Likewise, where user turnover is high peaks can occur and a leveled view needs to be taken while allowing for the peaks.

Where there are process changes or new introductions there is a greater amount of time required as both processes have to be handled. This added impact should decline over time. Additionally, the manner of process change, planned versus spur of the moment, does directly impact the requirement for and allocation of resources.

In my opinion one of the primary considerations for staffing expectations is a realistic view of change impact to a going concern.

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I'm a full time Net Admin with 30 users

by kmorano In reply to staffing a 30-computer ne ...

I'm a full time Net Admin with about 30 users. We have an NT network and host our own email, intranet sites and Outlook Web Access site. I've had slow time occassionally (maybe 10% of my time is slow), but a net admin with a little slow time is a good thing! That's when I research ways to make things better instead of just trying to keep up with existing problems. Having someone full time would enable your computer person to be proactive with your issues instead of reactive.

Just my thoughts!
Kristina

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Good point

by TomSal In reply to I'm a full time Net Admin ...

That's a good point. While you certainly don't want to pay someone for excessive idle time, it's ideal to be staffed "slightly" in excess so your people aren't burning break times just so they are excused to go to the bathroom.

I can fully attest to what you are saying, as I'm a IT-jack-of-all-trades sort. Pratically the only IT area I do not handle (or have expertise in) is programming. I've been the go to guy for this company for years and years now, with nearly 100 users, I am just nowgetting some help on board.

finally I have more idle time that I turn into R&amp time. I research, evaluate (and sometimes experiment) with new ideas or how to better solve problems that plagued us in the past.

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Outsource

by Jose Mir In reply to staffing a 30-computer ne ...

I want to point two different answers (in two different messages):

First Answer: Outsource

30 workstations and one NT server will not require more than one person to administer.
Other possibility is to outsource the preventive and correctivemaintenance to a hardware oriented company, and for the network administration tasks you could hire a network administrator (as needed or in a monthly basis). This will save you some money, and will give you some advantages about spare parts and continuous training in high-tech issues. If in the near future you want to add some new features (in-house web hosting, technology migration, users training, etc.) you will be able to find the right professional (individual or organization) that meets your selection about quality, price, and expertise.
If you look at your IT system as the business tool it is, you will see that the answer could not be answered from an exclusive IT point of view.

Jose P. Mir
jpm@jpmir.net

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Pay attention to your needs

by Jose Mir In reply to Outsource

Second Answer: It will depend on your needs.

Why do you suppose that someone could give you a detailed idea about your company’s needs without a detailed analysis about several internal aspects of this organization?
A business oriented technician could suggest you some similar to my first answer. A Microsoft Eng., could clearly inform you that you will need a full time MSCE, while a Novell Eng. could suggest that if you deploy eDirectory over the Microsoft platform you will save a good amount of money in system administration; and you will be able to solve the topic with one part-time technician-administrator.
And what about a Linux guy? Obviously he will try to convince you to migrate to server and workstations to open source solutions. With the money you will save in software and hardware upgrades you could easily hire the expertise you will need to support and administer the system; and you will prevent many of the system crash that sooner or later will appear.
If you ask me for my own technical opinion I will suggest you to take a look at thin clients technology as a way of simplifying the system and reducing support and administrative tasks. AIX is a strong platform, but you could do the same with Linux or even Windows 2000; after all we are talking about a small network (too small to have a full time system administrator).
Of course you could hire a low cost technician, but in this case you will obtain low quality service, and maybe the company can’tafford the risk of not having high quality technical support. To hire a high quality technician (hardware, software, networking, project, support, and a bit of business mind) could add your system an extra cost overhead, but maybe your company business strategy will obtain some competitive benefits.
Just pay attention to the business needs, because they are going to mark the way to follow.

Jose P. Mir
jpm@jpmir.net

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I agree but disagree

by TomSal In reply to Pay attention to your nee ...

I agree with your points, some of which are very well thought out and very relevant ones.

However the one part I disagree is where you propose that you certainly don't need a full time system admin for a 30 node network. On the surface its easy for one to make this assumption. But depending on the needs of the company this can change, even for such a small network.

Case in point: I know this from experience, when I started here the network was 20 people/computers and I was full time admin. I was very busy.

What the general idea is here, is not expecting a full time single purpose "admin". We are talking a proactive thinking, solution finding, technically educated, problem-solving, budget thinking, network designing, dynamic personality - open-minded IT super(wo)man.

An IT jack of all trades.

If you build an IT department by yourself, ground up, write the policies and procedures, start keeping budgets, inventories and branch out to handling phone issues as well (which this is all the stuff I did)...trust me, if you do it RIGHT and strive for quality even a 30 node network can fill 40 hours of work a week from a single IT professional.

It all goes with what you expect that person to do.

My proposal is to have a jack of all trades IT person.

Also: While your admin outsourcing idea once per month is definitely a solution - in the long run it will not save a company money.

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