General discussion


What if the IT guy dies?

By camy2079 ·
I work or a company with approx 50 employees and we currently have one employee heading up the IT dept. At this time nothing he handles is documented; network topology, admin passwords, server specs, licensing info... in short everything IT related resides in his head only. So what happens if he dies one day, are we screwed? Generally speaking I would expect this type of info would be documented as a security measure. Therefore if it could not be handled in-house we could at least hire an outside source and keep things running smoothly.

Any thoughts?

BTW, for job security reasons presumably, he has avoided documenting or sharing this info. How can I tactfully request this information?

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Just do it

by TechExec2 In reply to What if the IT guy dies?

"So what happens if he dies one day, are we screwed?"


"How can I tactfully request this information?"

Just do it. You simply explain what you have explained here. You're the executive. You're concerned about continuity. A function as vital as your IT infrastructure must not be hanging on the thread of a single individual successfully crossing the street every single day.

This is not a problem with this staff member. It is a management problem. If I were the owner of your company, and anything ever happened to this person, or if he quit, I would hold the appropriate person in management responsible for it.

Someone in management is not doing their job. If that person is you, I apologize for being rude (but I would say the same thing).

All the best to you.

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Old School

by tags66 In reply to Just do it

The guy is doing job, and probably has the documentation somewhere, he just not admitting anything. Job security been the motive.

This is a management issue; ask him to produce the network documentation as a disaster recovery procedure. Look at getting another person to help him out. A part-timer from another dept if finance if a problem, and task them with the network documentation. At least them your will have a stand-in if the worst happens.

Ask the questions: What happens went he?s on holiday or ill? Work stop? I would hope not who helps out then? What experience do they have? Cost or downtime verse extra employee?

Once you got the answers, your will know what to do.


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It's policy

by 2ktech In reply to Just do it

The essential element of good documentation must come from management. To rely on any employee, no matter how good, to do this on his own will almost always fail or come up short.

Managers must insist that employees write everything new up. They need to ensure that a logical structure exists on a network drive to add technical how-to and information writeups. If you have more than one tech, the each tech adds to or rewrites write-ups as things change.

Then it is a matter of every time you do a task, and it is new or changed, you write it up as part of that assigned task, before closing out that task. The writeup is PART OF THE TASK, not an afterthought. Writing things up is PART OF THE JOB. It isn't a luxury, it is an essential. If a worker can't write it up then he is not a team player but is in it only for himself. That is the simplicity of it. People are hired to fill a responsiblity for a company. They have no right to hog information for that position, that company, and not keep that information safe and readily available to anyone in the company that appropriately need it. Anyone that can't do this does not deserve to be employed by that company, unless the company simply doesn't care. But if that is the case, then someone needs to look at the managers that don't care.

I work for a company with thousands of employees and when I started there were zero write-ups. I started it with every task I did, every install of a new software, etc. My manager never insisted on this, but I encouraged it and now - 9 years later we have a knowledgebase that provides documentation that is probably second to none, for our environment. As an opinion leader this has mostly worked, but it is really management that needs to insist on this AS PART OF THE JOB, and includes it in employee reviews. If you want professional people, demand that they do professional work. Otherwise get rid of the anti-team players.

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by Robbi_IA In reply to It's policy

Policy and then procedure!

2ktech - noticed you're from Erlanger. I've been there once or twice. Love the watertower in Florence, Y'all!


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At the very least

by Roger99a In reply to What if the IT guy dies?

At the very least you need a list of passwords so you can access the equipment and find out what's going on. And at least one other person should have Admin rights on the domain. Let him know his "job security" depends on it.

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Strongly concur, but for Admins only! YES on documentation

by sevenex In reply to At the very least

This fellow Arkie concurs fully, especially when it comes to Admins. This is where I draw the line as I've chimed recently elsewhere in the forums about a former manager who insisted on his employee's passwords and how I staunchly refused his request until he assured me if they were compromised for any reason that he had to allow me an opportunity to speak for myself - no exceptions, and he did. It's NOT a manager's business to obtain his employee's passwords as that is a separate disaster awaiting to occur, and I can cite several reasons in a future post. As far as documentation on what's what - that's clearly a no-brainer and disaster waiting to happen. Management must step to the plate, rectify this, and make it company policy so this doesn't rear a Medusa head in the future.

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Can You Say Down Time?

by sentdata In reply to What if the IT guy dies?

Let's say your boy get's taken to a secret prison and can?t work? Don?t call Avlac! Get the passwords for everything, routers too.

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Management Problem

by NOW LEFT TR In reply to Can You Say Down Time?

Raise this with management above the IT Manager is a tactfull way, directly or inderiectly as suits.

Could be the inability to carry out a request when said IT Manager is off sick / on leave.

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A solution

by cor In reply to Can You Say Down Time?

We deal with this all the time as an IT consulting firm.
Our approach is that we come in to perform a company wide security assessment. During that process we find out how severe the problem is if he got hit by a bus today.
We then create a tactical approach to mitigate those areas of most importance. We have done under cover approaches where we place an IT guy in the company to find out the rest of the missing knowledge or in some cases we have taken over the whole department and made the company IT person report to us.

There is always a solution to this.

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Encrypted data is the only real potential disaster.

by stress junkie In reply to What if the IT guy dies?

Okay. I agree with all of the other posters so far. On the other hand when I was working as a contract employee I often came into situations where the previous system administrator hadn't documented anything and nobody knew the system passwords. These things can be handled. It could cause down time but you aren't completely dead.

Documentation is a tough issue. I try to keep good records so that another system administrator could pick up where I left off just by reading what I have written. It is unbelievably difficult to keep the documentation up to date. Written records become inaccurate quickly in a dynamic environment. Sometimes it is really really difficult to keep good documentation up to date.

On the other hand if business data is being encrypted with a system that only has one password and uses the password to encrypt the data then that data might be lost forever. Few businesses employ these types of measures even though they should be used for all confidential data. In this case you need to know the password for the encryption algorithm. You also need to know what encryption method is being used, how it is implemented, and how to restart your computers without the help of the system administrator.

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