General discussion


World and dog to be IT pros

By waity85 ·
Apologises in advance if this has been asked before, or just that no-one is interested, but this is my first post so here goes...

Why is it that every man and his dog believe that because they have a PC in their house that they have what it takes to be an IT professional?

For example a client is currently setting up a new environment and is constantly asking advice, and then ignoring it.

The latest trick is that because he has a server configured to do X, he can build another server that also does X. Even though he paid someone else to build the server and doesn't seem to have a clue how it actually works.

So on this logic I need to ask:
Does owning a chemistry set mean I can work for a pharmaceutical company?

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Thanks for the replies

by waity85 In reply to World and dog to be IT pr ...

All the advice pretty much confirmed what I thought however this leaves me with a couple more problems.

How do you go about saying 'no' without get the clients backup?
This seems to be especially tough for me as, as part of the clients contract, they get 'support', this is intended as (basic) help when initially setting up their network for the first time, or rebooting a machine to save them having to gain access to the server. Some clients however keep pushing to see how far we'll stretch.

This problem has been sorted out with one troublesome client, but only after Management made them take out an extra support contract after we had been doing their day-to-day admin tasks for a month.

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Despite what's written above...

by DMambo In reply to Thanks for the replies

IT folks are not the only intelligent people in the world. I know this will shock many of you, but some people out there can actually think!!

Is it possible to work with the client to develop a plan for that 2nd installation and to divide the tasks between those the he can do after observing it done once, and those things that he'd better have support on-site for?

Before I was the IT guy, I worked with a vendor to set up the initial network in our plant. It was a small LAN with a single NT server and about a dozen clients. Things changed, our needs grew, and I was able to work with this same guy, under his supervision in a way, to expand that initial network significantly. Most of his time was put in over the phone. It worked for him, and it worked for us. Now, several years later, I am the wizard that you all know today!

As far as the unending support goes, your contract should specify a number of support hours or calls to be included for the initial fee. Others are billed at normal rates.

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As I clearly said.....

by jdclyde In reply to Despite what's written ab ...

We do the same thing. If there is new technology that we need to put in place, we hire someone to do the first location. We watch and take notes. We then copy what he did for the other three locations.

There is nothing wrong with this.

BUT that for the most part does not sound like what waity is describing. Except for the server, the biggest complaint seems to be that they customer gets recommendations and then runs off and does what he wanted to do in the first place. I have seen this many times, and it is someone that is just looking for you to validate what they are saying, not tell them something different.

Wizard? You forgot "modest" too!

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Terms should be clear up front

by jdclyde In reply to Thanks for the replies

when you create this contract, it should be made clear what the terms of it are.

What is covered, and for how long.

It is only when a customer is allowed to expect more either by a misunderstanding, or being misled by a sales rat promising the moon so he can get his commission.

Full fill your part of the signed agreement, and have your manager clear up any misunderstandings.

Don't take them wanting to do something for themselves as a personal insult.

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Post sales issue...

by waity85 In reply to Terms should be clear up ...

That is the most common phrase to come out of a salesmans mouth at the moment. So anything after the contract is signed is generally left to engineering department. Usually without any formal, written description of what is required or should be provided.

I common example of this was a customer ringing to inform is that they had lost connectivity. After several minutes solution was found, so we rang customer.

"Yep, its your firewall, you may want to fix that."

"But you manage our firewall, whats broken?"

After a quick call to the salesman, "yeah we manage they firewall for them. Did I not tell you?"

So this really makes life interesting. In terms of fulfilling the signed agreement. Just about every contract is standard with the usual stuff the company provides plus 'support'. Definitive isn't it?

While I'm complaining, did I also mention that customers have 24/7 access to engineers, and we're meant to be able to get to work within roughly 20minutes?

I didn't take the client wanting to do the work himself as an insult. I enjoy helping people as much as possible (only reason I've managed to put up with this so long). But the guy is clearly in over his head, and I just can't understand why he ^wants^ to do it himself. Especially not when its business critical.

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Many reasons why he would WANT to

by jdclyde In reply to Post sales issue...

He might fancy himself a tech. People that don't do it full time seem to think it is more fun than it really is.

He might enjoy playing with the toys.

He might be too cheap to pay for any more support than he has to.

Worst case and he destroys things, that is why he has a "catch-all" contract for YOUR support!

Your a 24/7 shop? Poor you. I am out the door and they are unable to contact me for anything until I walk through the door the next day. Breaks my heart! B-)

No company phone for this one!

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who said being a tech wasn't fun?

by waity85 In reply to Many reasons why he would ...

I love being a tech and 'playing' all day. I know you probably wouldn't think it considering the number of gripes I've had today. But then I'm still young, fresh and idealist (and not looking forward to the burnout that seems to be commonplace)

As for 24/7, I fancy getting away from that part of the job as soon as possible. It just doesn't leave enough time to play with *MY* toys and projects.

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Getting away from the 24/7

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to who said being a tech was ...


I've been trying for well over 20 years and if anything things have got worse as now I've gone from the IT Manager to owning my own business with 10 Techs working for me and I'm now on call 36/85 per day.

I've got to pay others to play with my Play Toys well restore them anyway as I have very little time left to do any work myself thought I do try to get a few hours per year. And I'm trying to remember what a Holiday is though I did get 2 weeks off in 2001 when I dropped a Mercedes on myself and nearly managed to kill myself but even then my generous staff visited me in Hospital and brought along a NB and Ceil Phone Adapter so I could download their e-mail and answer their questions and do anything else that was required. The nursing staff just couldn't understand why I had 3 Cell Phones beside me. :^0 But on the up side when I wanted copies of the pictures that they took of me for the medical journals I had all the necessary hardware on hand to directly interface with their system and get my pictures.


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Yeah, it is fun

by jdclyde In reply to who said being a tech was ...

but it is only after a lot of hard work that it really becomes fun, by learning all the hows and whys.

I personally don't "work" with computers.
I get paid to play with all the cool toys.

But there IS stress involved that isn't for a home user when you can't get that widget to work. Playing with your own system at home, you don't have an angry end user glaring at you the whole time as if it were your fault that they broke the system. B-)

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Well I've read all the above and I'll add my 2 cents worth

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to World and dog to be IT pr ...

Originally I came from the Big End of Town and if the company involved didn't need 3 floors of Mainframes and several thousand Workstations they where ignored by the Big Boys.

This meant that the smaller companies where virtually on their own and it's only fairly recently that people have realized that there is a Profitable Market in Small to Medium Business and they then wonder why they are not snapped up to serve this market.

Most of these people had to Make Do with what they could get and just get by in the process so they became self reliant even if they are doing things all wrong and the expensive way they are used to doing it themselves as previously they didn't have any option as the Big End of Town Laughed at them and refused to offer any service.

I saw this personally and tried to help as much as possible but even then I was limited in what I could and could not do for this side of the business.

About 10 years ago now I walked away from the Big Boys and started playing with the Small to Medium Market who generally speaking approve of my methods but will still do things their own way as they are so used to doing it this way and will then call me in to fix up the problems that they have created.

Sometimes I can short Circuit the procedure and sometimes I can't and I just have to live with the results but things are getting better as over time when new hardware is purchased I explain why it is wrong or too expensive to run even though the Sales Person told them it was exactly what they needed. Things Like Multi Function Devices being used as Network Printers because you can scan from them but what isn't told is that you are limited to the desktop where the unit is to scan and generally you can provide a scanner and printer to the same costs that are both better and cheaper to use but of course they do take up more desk space.

The one that I really liked was a brand new Bubble Jet printer running out of Red Ink after 1.5 days and it required a expensive Color Cartridge even though there was plenty of Yellow and Blue left and they where effectively throwing away a half full cartridge. When I told them the costs involved in a unit with separate Ink Tanks they where stunned as they just didn't know that these units existed let alone have any sales person explain the difference and this was really a High Volume Printer that was going to be producing well over 5,000 color pages per month and what they saved on the original purchase was more than made up within 2 - 3 weeks with replacement ink cartridges.

Really they should have had a Corporate Color Laser Printer but that option wasn't offered to them.

Now I find that I have to work with these people and eventually I get my way and I end up saving them money and making a good name for myself along the way. If I spend a few hours answering silly questions at first I don't really mind as I know that eventually they will get the message and ask me to setup things properly and pay me to do it properly!

Currently there is a very hard time involved in dealing with small to medium business as they have had to fend for themselves for so long and it's only now that people in the IT Sector are beginning to Realize that there is a good living to be made from that area particularly with the really small companies who can not justify having a full time IT staff member on hand. If I can I fix things remotely I do and if a Service Call is required they pay me from the time I leave Base until I return and so far no one has complained.

But the ones that get me are really the non IT related jobs like How do I Download Music for My I Pod? and things like that which are really nothing more than play toys for the owners of the business. One of the best ones was reprogramming a GPS to work properly in Europe from AU and the owner just had to try it out after the European Maps had been loaded and went out to his car plugged the thing in and requested a direct route from his work to some destination in Europe. I had already told him that it wouldn't work and at best it could only give him a distance reading to where he wanted to go but that wasn't good enough so I had to stand outside in the Hot Sun and wait till the unit failed and then I asked him Exactly How do you Plan to Drive there from Here? I know that you're Jag is a great car but I didn't realize that it could travel underwater and there are no roads to let the GPS tell how to get out of AU onto the Sub Continent and then into Europe. At that stage he realized just how silly his request had been but was none the less impressed that the unit could tell him exactly how far he would have to travel to get to his requested destination.

I then took him back inside and set the starting point from the airport where he would arrive and the way points and he was as happy as a Pig In Mud and when he returned he just had to call me and congratulate me for doing such a great job for him as he never missed a single place that he wanted to go and even better was always on time for meetings.

By doing things like this I get asked what Hardware that they need and eventually they not only ask advice that they pay for but get me to supply the Hardware that I gave to them at reduced rates just to get the business and because I'm supplying better hardware I don't have to return for Hardware related faults.

Remember that it's only been sometime in the last 18 months that MS has got the idea that Servers are required by Small Business previously they didn't address this area of the market and nor did most IT people.


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