IT Employment

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staffing justification

By pvdcats ·
I'm IT Director for a non profit. Total staff numbers close to 100. I have 48-55 users spread over 3 separate locations and 50-60 pieces of hardware to take care of. I'm the only full time IT person on staff, the only one with formal training in IT. The only things I don't do are telephones and at the moment, our website. A study done for the agency in 1997 indicated that 1 full time IT person was needed for every 30 people and that was when there was no email, no internet, no vpn, etc. When I came here in 1999 there were only 25 pc's and 1 small netware 3.12 server. I now have 3 Windows servers, 3 snap appliances and routers/firewall hardware, and 55 pc's, along with the entire host of non hardware issues like database conversions, software selection, preparing IT budgets, writing operational procedures, etc. I don't seem to have the right ammunition to show management that money spent in a little more IT help will pay off. In the meantime the staff suffers because I can't get the tools they need out there to them more timely. The feedback I get from management is to not worry so much about what isn't getting done more quickly (which is how they can justify not hiring more IT help), but my users are suffering because of it. What I'm interested in finding out from this forum is what your ratio of IT staff to users is, is there a magic number? and what other ammunition do I need to use to get through to management.

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Do you understand what "non-profit" means?

by gene.fellner In reply to staffing justification

Non-profits never have enough funds to do what they need. That's why they call them that. You can make the best business case in the world for doing things right, but the executives are simply not going to be able to pull the money out of their operating budget for it.

Yes, the long term is critical, but the short term always has a way of occurring first. That's the mantra of the non-profit sector. They operate from quarter to quarter and never have the luxury of looking beyond the next quarter.

If you're looking for ratios, at the top end in companies with tens of thousands of employees, one full-time IT person for every forty or fifty end users is a typical number. But I can't give you the standard deviation on that statistic.

At the bottom end with fewer than a hundred end users, there are multiple vectors at work. The organization isn't so complicated and bureaucratic and the architecture is more streamlined. That increases the number of users one IT person can support. On the other hand, IT people need to specialize like everyone else, they need backup, and the workload isn't smoothly delivered over time. This makes a case for increasimg the number of users per IT staff member.

All I can do is go with my gut. If I were asked as a favor, sight unseen, to be in charge of your shop, knowing what little you've told me here, I would insist on a minimum of three full-time IT people or I wouldn't even take the job as a favor to my best friend.

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non profits = no money

by pvdcats In reply to Do you understand what "n ...

I left a large non profit (ie hospital) because the environment there was really bad. I didn't take the job here to make money, it pays enough to live on most of the time. Our donors do expect us to concentrate on services and we do that to the point that a lot of good people suffer from being expected to handle twice the number of clients on a paper system at lower than market value wages. Out of a sense of duty, I converted a portion of one of our older databases in my spare time on the weekend because the one they were trying to use had so much data corruption that it didn't save the entries. That was two years ago. We still run the older "possessed" database for its other parts and I've been working for three years with a software developer to get it onto a more stable platform, but no one has time to do testing so it takes forever and yes, the agency paid a bundle on this project, the money can be there when they want it to be. I'm always patching, coaxing another year out of Win98 machines, and am now in the midst of planning the network infrastructure for our new 30,000 sq ft headquarters. We raised enough money for that even in this depressed economy because we are a good agency. I was just hoping someone had a magic bullet....

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There is no magic number

by JamesRL In reply to staffing justification

At two large organizations, the ratio was more like 1 body for every 100 users(inlcuding deskside support/help desk/data centre, not including programmers). A lot depends on what kind of software you are running.

I would forget about ratios for justifying a body. Instead focus on the impact of new projects on the productivity of the business.

If you can justify the activity, then you should then be able to justify the added staff to do the activity.


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Lack of Staff

by BFilmFan In reply to staffing justification

I would accept upper management's answer in the form of a written business communication and work on issues as they arise. When an issue eventually shuts them down or they complain because users are complaining "it takes FOREVER" to get anything done, then refer them back to their memo and happily say, "Thank you for approving extra staff. I will inform HR of your decision and we will have another staff member in 3 weeks."

They will then state that they can't afford extra staff. You then say, "Why did you not explain your cost-driven management decision to these end users?" and SHUT UP.

They will quickly realize the onus of dealing with the issue is a management issue and neccessary for them to deal with it.

Another thought is to not equate a job title and responsibility at a not-for-profit with the commercial world. They are vastly different organizations. An IT director at a mid-size or large corporation does NOT deal with any end user below a fellow-director level. It just does NOT happen.

You are the IT shop for this non-profit organization. And until things get SO BAD that management HAS to hire additional staff, you are going to be stuck with that role.

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I direct "myself"

by pvdcats In reply to Lack of Staff

They decided on the IT Director title because they wanted me to run the division, bring a certain level of professionalism to the IT area by doing things that had never been done before, like setting up user id's, security, backups, procedure manuals, and then asking me to decide where we're going on the IT road. When I came here I had 1 site with the netware server, 1 site was peer-to-peer on Win95, and the other site wasn't networked at all. I mapped out the plan to take our 3 sites, network where there wasn't any until all 3 sites have windows 2000 servers and windows 2000 pc's outnumber the windows 98/95 ones. The VPN running on my firewalls over DSL is up, internet access is here, email is here. The number of users has doubled. At the new location, there is probably going to be an Exchange server and other "new" technology with a/v, security - for the world I left behind, these technologies are old. It's a funny title, but what other one would I use? (be nice)

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by BFilmFan In reply to I direct "myself"

IT Functionary.

Honestly, I would say if you like the position, then priotize what is and is not critical and when it gets where you are only handling fires 8 hours a day, they will take action.

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I'll make a suggestion which you may not like..

by Jaqui In reply to I direct "myself"

switch to linux, the savings in software costs will pay for itself.
the security and stability will reduce the problems.

and by not having to be buying newer versions of ms's products for each station the department gets the money to pay for another person.

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Suggestion with merits, but...

by suresh_subramaniam In reply to I'll make a suggestion wh ...

Switching to Linux always has hidden costs - lack of full support, learning curve costs etc.

A lot of non-profits have special deals available from MS and other large software companies that they can leverage from.

Dont get me wrong, as an IT Director we have authorized the use of Linux boxes and Windows boxes, but we generally find that it is significantly cheaper (after the initial and painful outlay to MS and crew) than an open source product to administer.

Two pennies worth.

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