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Overwhelming Bureaucracy in the IT Department? 591

Posted by Cliff
from the fight-the-inertia dept.
Nedry57 asks: "I am in the somewhat unique position of being a technology worker, who lives outside of the IT department in my company (a very large organization in the US). By far, the biggest challenge I face is getting anything done due to the bureaucracy that exists, within IT. There are certain tasks (i.e. anything that happens in the data centers) that I don't have the access to do. Even a simple task, like installing more memory in a non-production server, can take nine months and massive mountains of paperwork (no exaggeration), thus costing many times more than it should. The lack of agility is maddening, because I know we are missing significant business opportunities. My management is extremely supportive and despite our excellent track record of success in creating robust/secure applications--our work has passed audit numerous times with flying colors--we get no support from IT. Even senior management can't break through the barrier. I am very interested in hearing the experiences Slashdot readers have had in similar situations." How do you get your technology work done, when your IT department is more hindrance than help?
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Overwhelming Bureaucracy in the IT Department?

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  • IT (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:33PM (#14620800)
    You don't. You fire them and outsource their jobs to India.
    • Re:IT (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Fjan11 (649654) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:40PM (#14620894) Homepage
      I agree, let market economics do its work. Any outsourcing partner will be more than happy to upgrade your server in a matter of days. Of course outsourcing does land you with a whole new set of interesting problems (cost control!) but the net effect is positive on the whole. Flame me if you will, but there is a reason outsourcing is so popular with managers... most of the time you get a more responsive IT department for less money.
      • Re:IT (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Billly Gates (198444) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @07:37PM (#14621463) Journal
        Bolony.

        The cost savings are barely %15 at the most and the Indian management companies take most of the cost savings away.

        You need to spec requirements for any programming projects and you can't outsource business processing that far away. If anything efficiency eats in and costs actually go up.

        There are a few companies that are %100 based here in the US where manufactoring, operations, and management are all in one location. Outsourcing to China will actually cost more because work wont flow seeminglessly or as easily with everything apart.

        I wonder if this guy works for a government contractor or has the military as a customer? Such companies are required to do tons of checks and ballances and security.
        • Re:IT (Score:3, Interesting)

          by catch23 (97972)
          Nobody said anything about outsourcing to India... We started outsourcing our operations to Alabama and our IT department has suddenly become 100% more responsive. Their fear of losing next year's budget to another US company next door is pretty devastating. For most non-production stuff, we buy our own machines and operating everything in-house, but for production machines we have started outsourcing to other cheaper alternatives inside the US and I'm quite pleased with the progress so far.
      • Re:IT (Score:5, Interesting)

        by LardBrattish (703549) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @11:51PM (#14623035) Homepage
        I'm sorry but from my experience I have to call bull.

        Most of the time O/S contracts are not negotiated by tech savvy people which results in ridiculous clauses.

        The contract I'm working on at the moment only allows us to delay releases a certain number of times in a year and allows us a certain number of outages.

        Fair enough you may think...

        Now, if we're close to the limit on delayed releases but way ahead of the curve on actual outages what do you think we're going to do when we have to call go/no-go on a release with only a 50-50 chance of being successful? If we pull it we definitely get hit on the service level agreement; if we put it in we've got a 50% chance of taking no hit and a 50% chance of an outage which we can absorb easily. Is this the best thing for the customer? No. Is it the best thing to do pragmatically to protect the profits of the outsourcer? Yes.

        Another outsourcer at my company is only contracted to create 30 (IIRC) user IDs per month. If you're new hire 31+ you're out of luck until the first of the next month & the company normally hires in big blocks (when the graduates become available). Somebody averaged the number of new users over 12 months without negotiating in the flexibility to overspend one month & underspend others. It can be created of course but that means big bucks... That outsourcer had used up all of their projected 5 years budget within the first two years with all of the incurred excess charges for stuff like that. Mind you they were SO incompetent that the failures in other areas of SLA incurred penalty clauses to partially counteract that...

        I agree that entrenched IT departments can be really bad to have to deal with but they can be fixed if senior management has the will to do something - maybe the CEO needs to be told there's a problem instead of the usual "everything's fine".

        If you have a LARGE IT department and you believe outsourcing is the answer - you probably asked the wrong question. Small-medium companies with limited and well defined requirements can and should outsource. I do not believe large IT departments can be economically outsourced because the increase in management overhead that is incurred more than outweighs any savings that may be made - you end up paying for the outsourcers managers while you have to keep your managers to liase with their managers... If you write a cast iron contract the outsourcer will have already charged you a shedload of money to negotiate said contract and you will have also spent a lot of money on your peoples time negotiating it. If you don't have a cast iron contract then you can open wide & say ARGH!!! because the outsourcer will ream you for every excess charge they can before you go bankrupt.

    • Re:IT (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Remind me again how someone living in India is going to upgrade the installed RAM in a server located in the US?

      Wouldn't it be a little expensive? Just think of all the plane tickets from & to India for each problem ticket this guy opens.

      On one hand, if the IT department is genuinely sitting around with their thumbs up their ass, then fire them. Replace them with new workers, preferrably not from the old boys network that they were hired out of.

      On the other hand, if the IT department isn't performing th
    • Re:IT (Score:3, Interesting)

      In fact that is a large CAUSE of problems. Everything around IT has to be so process oriented to make sure our outsourced slaves are doing their jobs correctly.

      In a similar light, my own corporation has a complete clusterfuck of an IT department, since it is centered entirely on being as cheap as possible. Not only do we have the India effect, we have a security model centered on making sure every employees laptop runs a particular OS image that has a virus scanner fundamentally attached to the ON button (s
    • Re:IT (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jelloman (69747) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @08:15PM (#14621768)
      ...or just fire all of the upper and middle management in the narcissistic IT bureaucracy (you might have to barge in on them while they're jerking off to their org charts), and reassign all of the actual skilled IT staff and direct managers to the divisions of the company that they're supposed to be serving. Any arguments about efficiencies of scale are bullshit territory-marking, you can replicate much of that by centralizing procurement and licensing (but not budgets or purchasing authority!). Even if you lose a bit of efficiency, you more than make it up overall by greatly empowering divisions and departments. Costs plummet and productivity skyrockets when functional areas of the business get (only) the information systems they need, instead of forcing enterprise-wide adoption of the same adequate-for-everyone-but-powerful-for-no-one systems, or adding the same immense operational costs to every server when 90% of them need little security and no redundancy. If my creative team needs some more file-sharing space, is the business better served by me going out to Best Buy (ick) and getting a $400 NAS that I can hook up in 15 minutes (and takes my departmental IT guy 5 minutes to include in backups), or waiting 9 months for a $30K/year file server to be deployed to some server room in another time zone?

      If you're building an assembly line, do you give everyone a hammer just because it's cheaper than buying different kinds of tools? Most Fortune 500 CIOs would.

      When corporate information systems need to be integrated across business units or divisions, then build a development team for that, and have it report to the COO or CFO or someone else who can lean on upper management, rather than just making one centralized self-centered priesthood that controls everyone's systems top to bottom. I'm baffled that anyone can imagine how that could ever work well. That delusion requires a deep ignorance of human nature.

      In a well-led enterprise, only a few of the business functions are really important, because they're central to the strategy of the business. Internal IT is never one of those functions. Yes, everyone depends on it, but IT is not really an "it". All employees have similar requirements for air conditioning and paychecks and parking lots and health plans, but IT requirements vary tremendously. Meeting those requirements is hard, and getting hard things done in a corporation requires incentive and accountability. Centralized IT has neither of those, so they say "no" instead of "yes".
    • by billstewart (78916) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @10:15PM (#14622488) Journal
      Dealing with your own IT staff is bad enough. Dealing with outsourced IT is usually _less_ flexible, whether that's remote support from India or local support from companies like EDS, CSC, etc. Outsourcing saves money by replacing individual attention with mass production, so most of the work gets done by low-paid grunts working from standardized scripts instead of sysadmin wizards who can figure out what you really need.

      There are some exceptions, but they'll charge you more money for the flexibility. That's the other way outsourcers make you money - precisely defining the scope of work and charging higher prices for anything outside of it. Sometimes that's a Great Thing - outsiders who want to charge money are often much more willing to do what you want than insiders whose reward structure is that they're a Cost Center incentivized to cut costs. But the kinds of bean-counters who outsourced your IT department on you are usually going to prevent you from getting the extra-value services if they can.

  • I don't. (Score:4, Funny)

    by rvw14 (733613) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:34PM (#14620817)
    This guy is the head of my company's IT dept. BOFH [theregister.co.uk]
  • by whoever57 (658626) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:34PM (#14620824) Journal
    and leave!

    Seriously, it seems that you have fought the good fight. Your managers ahve supported you, you have been at this for a long time, without effect. You now have a choice: accept that it probably won't change and that you can live with it, or leave.

    • I just left a company that was similar. I was a sys admin, and it was damn near impossible to do anything.

      Once it gets to that point it most likely won't change, barring a CTO/CIO change.

      It's infortunate, but that's how most companies operate. Top, down.

    • by rovingeyes (575063) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:57PM (#14621112)
      Seriously, it seems that you have fought the good fight.

      OK, by this point I have read TFA at least a few times and I still didn't find what was the good fight this guy fought. I mean he doesn't list any steps that he has taken to fight the IT department. He and his management are unhappy with the way IT department works. So just for argument sake, can I assume that you are making assumptions that may not be valid and drawing conclusions that are plain wrong?

      I am not denying that this situations don't exist, but most people just whine about it, they don't do anything about it. For e.g. has this guy filed a formal written complaint to the upper management stating that the IT department is not co-operating? Has he tried forging some good rapport with the IT department? The only time any one remembers the IT department is when stuff don't work. Sometimes acknowledging that they are part of the company and their success may lead them to co-operate more. To support my argument read what the author states:

      The lack of agility is maddening, because I know we are missing significant business opportunities. My management is extremely supportive and despite our excellent track record of success in creating robust/secure applications--our work has passed audit numerous times with flying colors--we get no support from IT.

      So apparently according to him all the bad things that are happening in the company is due to the incompetence of IT and all the good things are happening because of his development team. Gimme a break!! That attitude (treating IT department like they are 3rd rate employees, a burden) is not going to get him or any body favors.

      Suggestion to author: Try toning down your ego, treat IT department with respect, give them credit and appreciate their work. They are the ones who save your ass when you type "rm -rf /". And ocassionaly buy them beer and lunch and see those 9 months turn to 9 seconds!

      • I mean he doesn't list any steps that he has taken to fight the IT department. He and his management are unhappy with the way IT department works.

        While his article is not complete, it does look like he has taken action:

        Even senior management can't break through the barrier.

        Next:

        has this guy filed a formal written complaint to the upper management stating that the IT department is not co-operating?

        This is the last thing I would advise anyone to do in a highly political company. It's suicide: you will

      • by number11 (129686) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @08:40PM (#14621919)
        has this guy filed a formal written complaint to the upper management stating that the IT department is not co-operating? Has he tried forging some good rapport with the IT department?

        1. Formal complaint about IT to CEO. Done.

        2. Forge good rapport with IT. Having trouble here, for some reason they don't seem to like me. They said something I didn't quite catch about me and the CEO.

        Maybe I should have done that in another sequence?
      • by Zoop (59907) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @09:24PM (#14622168)
        Suggestion to author: Try toning down your ego, treat IT department with respect, give them credit and appreciate their work. They are the ones who save your ass when you type "rm -rf /". And ocassionaly buy them beer and lunch and see those 9 months turn to 9 seconds!

        A professional turns around a job in the same amount of time, regardless of his opinion of the other person. Sounds like you're saying the IT department there at best isn't very professional.

        If the IT department is having a problem with the author, then they should be bringing it up with his supervisor. I have asshat coworkers as well. I bitch about them mightily, but I don't refuse to do my job just to spite them. Then I'm in the wrong and have no room to complain.
    • Yes! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by slashkitty (21637) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @07:02PM (#14621161) Homepage
      Man, I worked web development at a Bank that had so many levels of paperwork. The project I worked on was NOT related to handling money, it was just website stuff. Just to change on configuration value on a test (!) machine, I would have to fill out paperwork, get it signed by multiple people, attend a 1 hour meeting, and then pass off to engineering who would actually do the job (sometimes screwing it up)... What a mess.. Getting something on live, production servers was even worse! It would take me a year things that I had done in days in previous companies.

      Now I run my own company with lots of production severs.. No paperwork required, and I've automated most stuff.

      If you are stiffled, go out!

    • by panaceaa (205396) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @07:27PM (#14621398) Homepage Journal
      You have quite a defeatist attitude. Contrary to Slashdot common belief, responding to challenges by quitting your job doesn't solve any problems, unless your challenge is to find a job where you don't have to think or do any real work. (In that case, you should probably go join this company's bureaucratic IT group -- they seem to have that area covered.)

      In any case, the best way to get interdepartmental problems fixed is by providing rewards to both sides for working together. Short of that, you can start your own IT group or work with an outside company to get your solutions hosted. Your IT group should be a resource for you -- if they're not, you should be able to use other resources instead.

      One of the managers I'm currently reporting to used to run into a similar problem at his last company. He's a 2nd level manager, and he decided that he would pay the salaries of a few people in the IT group in exchange for them specifically working on projects for his team. It worked great, and they were able to push out new releases every couple months. Before he started the arrangement, releases were taking 9 months.

      In conclusion, you should give financial incentives to the other team to reach your goals: Whether it's through paying their salaries, or taking away their work by going with someone else. Unless they have an incentive to work with you, they probably won't.
      • Bull manure (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rumblin'rabbit (711865) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @08:22PM (#14621811) Journal
        You have quite a defeatist attitude. Contrary to Slashdot common belief, responding to challenges by quitting your job doesn't solve any problems...
        Cow droppings. Quitting your job often solves problems. I don't recommend people leave their job on a whim, but if it's intolerable and there is no realistic chance of improvement, then you would be stupid not to. There's such a thing as being too loyal. You don't owe any company your sanity.

        Beside which, what better way of making things better for those who stay? If management loses good people because of some problem, they just might address that problem.

    • Wrong Wrong Wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745) <dadinportlandNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @08:01PM (#14621647) Homepage Journal
      GO to the CEO, tell him about missed opportunities, and tell him the IT department is hostile.
      Tell him what needs to be done, and how you owuld do it. Get his buy in.
      Then do it.
      3 things can happen here:
      1) S/He fires you. You were going to quit anyways.
      2) S/He gets IT to start becoming more agile
      3) S/He say "Do it". At this point you have to do it. Point all bottlenecks you can't deal with to him. In fact, when you have a people issue you can't solve, go to him and ask for help. You must be successful. When you are it could mean a good promotion, perferably over all those enemies you just made. Enemies are all right, you just have to deal with them calmly, and with authority(or assumed authority if you don't have any real authority.)

      Hen you consideringf quiting anyways, you might as well take the risk and shoot for the stars.
  • Buy In Or Bail Out (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:35PM (#14620834)
    It's simple. Either you get the buy-in of upper management, CIO, CFO, CEO and effect a change in the present system or you bail out and get a job in another company. You and your immediate supervisor, obviously an inconsequential middle manager, will hold no sway and make no changes. All that you and he will do is rock the boat and develop a bad reputation in the company. Get upper management buy-in or bail out!

    P.S. It sounds like you need to acquire funding for a development and testing lab that is not under IT however, do not expect to connect such a lab to IT's network.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I've done that in research. We did all our own IT for 4 years, and regularly sent explicit debugging instructions and notices of disabled company wide services to IT. It came to a head when one of the senior employees started an IT committee meeting, the IT director showed up at them regularly, and every time he said "can't be done" I showed him my published notes or whitepapers on exactly how to do such services with no additional hardware.

      He hated me, or should have, but eventually resigned and was replac
  • Get the work done. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:37PM (#14620858)
    its easier to ask for forgiveness than permission
  • by sczimme (603413) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:37PM (#14620859)

    This is not an IT-specific problem: all functional areas in large organizations are vulnerable to this sort of bureaucratic barbed wire.

    Even a simple task, like installing more memory in a non-production server, can take nine months and massive mountains of paperwork (no exaggeration), thus costing many times more than it should. The lack of agility is maddening, because I know we are missing significant business opportunities.

    If you know that there are real costs associated with the lack of agility, you should a) document in detail the actual losses, b) present these figures calmly and respectfully, and c) gauge the reaction from senior management.

  • Work for Yourself (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mysqlrocks (783488) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:37PM (#14620864) Homepage Journal
    Get a new job working for yourself or a start-up. Large companies (like the one you are working for) tend to have a lot of bureaucracy. Smaller companies tend to have less bureaucracy. Not to say this has to always be the case, there are certainly exceptions. Good luck changing the IT culture. Once a corporation or a department develops a certain culture or way of operating it is usually very difficult to change. Sorry, this is probably not what you wanted to hear.
    • There's a happy medium between soul-crushing corporate machine and fly-by-night startup.

      I highly recommend working for a company with a real, successful product, but without aspirations of world-domination.

      -Peter
  • by fair_n_hite_451 (712393) <crsteel@shaCOUGARw.ca minus cat> on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:37PM (#14620866)
    Somewhere in the senior echelons of your organization exists a guy. This guy (likely at the CIO level or higher) is either willfully ignorant of the nature of the IS organization which reports up to him, or he's actively encouraging the situation.
     
    If it's the former, you need to find out who it is that's allowing the inefficient environment to foster and take steps (and obviously "you" aren't the answer, but one of his peers or superiors is) to educate him on how things could improve.
     
    If it's the latter, and he's actively promoting that method of interaction because it keeps their costs down, or reduces headcount, or whatever AND if he has the buy-in of his peers and immediate superior, you're screwed. I suggest looking to outsource your department's IT requirements to a 3rd party if you can't bring them into your own group.
  • Conflicting Goals (Score:5, Insightful)

    by samkass (174571) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:38PM (#14620870) Homepage Journal
    Progress and stability are often conflicting goals. IT departments generally prefer stability, and that's why your deployments have probably been so stable and passed so many audits. Developers, of course, are charged with driving progress.

    The real answer if you need flexibility with regards to "non-production stuff" is to not let IT have anything to do with it at all. Create a separate sub-net if you have to to keep the non-production machines off the IT network, and a firewall between your network and theirs to prevent any viruses, or other effects, from leaking from your net to theirs (this may require having to VPN through it just to work with these machines, c'est la vie). Keep the machines in a different room than the official server room. Maintain them all 100% yourself. Then do what you need to. Anything less and you're asking IT to aid in your development, a task they're probably not equipped to do while maintaining stability.

    It's not uncommon for companies to have a "developer", "staging", and "live" system setup that are all completely independent, with some established mechanism and metrics to push products from one level to the next.
    • by Xzzy (111297) <sether&tru7h,org> on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:58PM (#14621117) Homepage
      Create a separate sub-net if you have to to keep the non-production machines off the IT network, and a firewall between your network and theirs to prevent any viruses, or other effects, from leaking from your net to theirs

      Just take special care to educate everyone using the private network that it's not supported by the IT department, and questions regarding such are likely to be met with quite a bit of hostility. I work on the other side of the fence from the story submitter, and the general feeling is that even the technologiclly minded developers don't know diddly about maintaining a stable server. People are generally encouraged to set up their own work environment, but as soon as root access is given out it's made clear that it is no longer our (that is, IT's) problem.

      More importantly, after a couple years of running a private network, never ever consider passing off the burden of maintaining the rickety development system that is suddenly 24x7 critical to IT. Those kinds of moves are exactly the kind that destroy IT's willingness to accomodate user requests.
      • Re:Conflicting Goals (Score:3, Informative)

        by pthisis (27352)
        More importantly, after a couple years of running a private network, never ever consider passing off the burden of maintaining the rickety development system that is suddenly 24x7 critical to IT. Those kinds of moves are exactly the kind that destroy IT's willingness to accomodate user requests.

        That's the job of IT and development. If they can't do it, something's wrong with the organization. IT needs to know how to bring newly developed systems up to their production standards. Conversely, of course, if
    • I was going post at the top level but the above comment sums up what I was going to say.

      Having been through some business training recently you have to ask what is your IT departments mandate/goals and are they in line with the rest of the company or your department. Its can be quite illuminating that when you drill down to the core purpose of some departments you can find that they are not supposed to do what you/everybody expects.

      You should try it with your own job roles and departments, examine the work
  • by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:38PM (#14620872)
    Moving to another company besides Microsoft?
  • by juan2074 (312848) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:38PM (#14620874)
    Management can keep holding long meetings to find out why work is not getting done.
  • ... and with a subject like that.. you aren't going to here what you expect:

    The military (USAF) had a very good IT setup (overall) that was basically setup the way you'd set up a good memory architecture.. you have a hierarchy of IT with the most used/essentialy tasks able to be done close to where they requests come from, and build upwards and outwards. Those local people were "fired" (in the government people don't actually get fired, but moved) if they didn't perform, and they were basically giving the
  • Move to IT (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gstevens (209321) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:41PM (#14620905)
    It sounds like the bureaucracy is going to be tough to change. However, is it possible to get your group moved *inside* of IT so you can get the job done? It might require less work to do this and still let you get your job done.

    It sounds silly, but if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:41PM (#14620907)
    Look, the people you are after are the people you depend on. We install your memory, we code your apps. We run the internets, we guard you while you sleep. Do not... fuck with us.
  • by path_man (610677) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:42PM (#14620919)

    Dear IT Professional:

    Please don't change anything about the way your IT organization does business. We love the way you and your team fail to communicate; the way mindless mandates from on-high drive pointless initatives; the way the latest technology trend shifts focus from project to project like the attention span of a two-year-old.

    Especially don't pay any attention to streamlining the use of hardware and software investments that you've already made. You and your team need MORE MORE MORE to get this project wrapped up on time. Have you upgraded to the newest rev of our software? Can't you just taste the new-and-improved speed of our lastest hardware?

    In summary, we love the way your IT organization is today, and wouldn't change a single thing.

    Yours Truly, Your software & hardware vendors

  • by MagikSlinger (259969) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:42PM (#14620921) Homepage Journal
    "Our SAMBA connection is broken. Something changed over the weekend."
    "Nothing changed over the weekend."
    "You sure about it? Why does the AD server report it's running Server 2003 now?"
    "Oh that? We tried to implement Windows Server 2003 to replace our AD server, but we backed it out."
    *boggle*

    That conversation was with our IT dept. In any controlled environment, things should be thought out, documented and multiple sanity checks performed. Even a dev system can impact a production system if they run on the same segment.

    Now, having said that, our IT dept tends to mindlessly enforce rules without thinking about them and getting them to wake up to new technologies (e.g., SOAP, web apps) is like trying to bring around a corpse with smelling salts.

    A good IT department should make sure things happen in a controlled and documented way, but should also make it as painless as possible to follow the rules. They should be proactive so if you come to them with something new you want to implement. Not only will they know what you're talking about, but have already prepared a white paper of preferred architecture for performance & security.

    A really good IT department brings something to the table.
    • by UdoKeir (239957) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @07:30PM (#14621417)
      This was my favourite:

      "I need to put some photos on our website for folks to look at."
      "You could copy them to a shared drive."
      "But people outside of our company need to view them."
      "I guess we could expose a drive to the outside world, I'd have to talk to my boss about that. There'd probably be security issues."
      "Can't you just put up a web page with the photos on there?"
      "Building that kind of webpage takes a lot of work."
      "I can do it for you, I have a script that will generate the HTML and thumbnails."
      "We're not supposed to put up HTML any more, we're supposed to move everything to ASP."
      "OK, I'll find an outside server to host them."
    • by tf23 (27474) <tf23@lotOPENBSDtadot.com minus bsd> on Thursday February 02, 2006 @06:58AM (#14624423) Homepage Journal
      A good IT department should make sure things happen in a controlled and documented way.... They should be proactive... have already prepared a white paper of preferred architecture for performance & security....A really good IT department brings something to the table.

      And when you find a place that is willing to fund enough resources to have such a capable department, please, please, let us know where to apply.

      You are absolutely right that an IT Dept (as well as others in the building) should be proactive. However, most IT Departments that I've seen are so under-funded, under-manned, under-resourced that they're scrambling to keep their heads above the water.

  • Business Cases (Score:4, Informative)

    by C10H14N2 (640033) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:42PM (#14620925)
    At a very well-known, well-funded, academic institute, I had to write a formal business case to submit to not one but TWO directors to justify why I needed an extra 512MB in my laptop...despite the fact that it would at worst be about fifty bucks and, regardless, it was a FREE upgrade. A "business case." Honestly. I didn't have to write a !#%ing "business case" for the laptop itself! The amount of time spent biatching over that $0.00 basically could have paid for the whole g.d. machine, gig included.

    • Re:Business Cases (Score:4, Insightful)

      by adrianmonk (890071) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @09:54PM (#14622355)
      At a very well-known, well-funded, academic institute, I had to write a formal business case to submit to not one but TWO directors to justify why I needed an extra 512MB in my laptop...despite the fact that it would at worst be about fifty bucks and, regardless, it was a FREE upgrade. A "business case."

      That's a dumb requirement, but it's easily satisfied. The business case is that getting the free upgrade increases the expected resale value of the equipment, yet opting for the upgrade costs nothing. The fact that it helps you get your job done better is immaterial and doesn't need to be mentioned.

  • You do the best you can. If you care enough about the job to stay, I would make sure that senior management knows where the bottle-neck is. When giving status reports diplomatically remind people that "Item X,Y and Z" are not released due to delays in IT. I feel for you, my company was infected by middle management about 8 months ago, now releases that took me 30 seconds (literally I timed it) now take 2 weeks at the minimum.
  • by millisa (151093) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:43PM (#14620943)
    First off, 9 months seems excessive. Very little should take longer than a business quarter.

    However, in my experience every person outside of IT and security groups has this mindset that IT groups hinder them for no real reason.

    I do not doubt there is bureacracy that slows every company's process. However, the fact that you want a change made to one system now doesn't change that these IT people are responsible for the effects any change might have on an entire organization. I don't know how many times I hear "But all I want is X". And that person requesting 'X' doesn't realize that 'X' has these 3 possible security issues associated with it. Maybe it won't effect his server even if it is exploited, but that risk has to be evaluated, approved and lord knows what else.

    The fact is, every change *must* go through a certain amount of bureacracy to make sure all that it could effect have taken the appropriate level of responsibility.

    My best advice is work through your own internal processes to see if turnaround time can be expedited. Maybe all they need is a motivated developer type with your skills to assist in making their change control system better. Or maybe there are things you don't see. Don't assume IT folk are just pushing your stuff back because they don't like you (though that could be a factor). If you can get a 'champion' type in your IT group that can help you get your stuff moved through the most efficiently.

    But in the end, it is not up to you to decide what priority your request is given over someone else's. Even a simple request should be evaluated properly and must be given priority that is likely outside the IT drone's choice... Maybe your manager/director type needs to champion your projects to get them pushed through with greater priority . ..don't assume the issue is on the IT side I guess is the gist of it.

    Oh, and Bill said he didn't wanna give you your ram because you ate his pudding cup.
  • Welcome to IT (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Doctor_D (6980)
    Seems like most IT Depts have one problem or another. Sometimes there's no structure to be able to get things done. Sometimes the management doesn't care, and hence can't get approval to get anything done. Or management cares too much, and you're spinning your wheels in meetings for most of the shift and can't get anything done.

    Personally I'm considering getting out of the field. I love technology, I love playing with multi-million dollar servers, I enjoy helping users out of a problem (as long as they'
  • by Chagatai (524580) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:46PM (#14620984) Homepage
    I worked for a meat producer, with a staff of 60 IT folks for a company of 20,000. At the time, I was a real security nut and wanted to improve the company as much as possible. I was there for about a month when I spoke with one of the IT directors about the company's security policy. His response? "There is no security policy."

    He and others in the IT department tried doggedly to get security noticed, only to be shot down by executive management. To paraphrase the CFO and strip out the gratutious profanity, "We're a meat company. We turn happy cows into happy steaks and happy pigs into happy bacon. We're not freaking NASA. We don't need to worry about our computers like Lockheed Martin does."

    Several months later a virus hits the company and the phone system, which includes all sales offices, dies. I rush and get the tools to remove the virus in every hand possible.

    Ultimately, as I was leaving the company, they finally hired a security manager. This was only because of Sarbanes-Oxley, and that person was given the role of a paper tiger--no authority to change things to be more secure, but a perfect picture for blame should something go awry.

    When I left, I entered another office with other politics, but it is nowhere as bad as it was there.

    • by cyclone96 (129449) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @09:08PM (#14622084)
      Yeah, get down on your knees and thank God you aren't freakin' NASA.

      I work for NASA, and the IT on our office systems (NOT the production/mission critical stuff, thank God) is the worst thing I've ever seen.

      My workgroup of 20 engineers has a shared server space of...300 Megabytes (that's Mega, with an "M"). Our actual needs are around 10 Gigabytes.

      So...about 20 Gigs of spare drive space on one guys machine has gotten shared out and is now the de-facto server. It gets backed up every week or so to another machine, and maybe monthly DVD backups get burned.

      This is a terrible solution, and I know darn well that the 2 or 3 man-hours a week it's taking to maintain this thing costs a hell of a lot more than giving us the correct server space we need. Let's not even mention how much it will cost if we screw up and lose something. But...IT is funded seperately, and they could care less how much labor we waste making up for their inadequate infrastructure (a big problem in any government org is accounting for wasted labor like this).

      I won't even talk about the "improvements" to the mail server, which resulted in day long email crash to several thousand users yesterday.
  • ...but in some places it actually works.

    It is easier to beg forgiveness than it is to ask permission. Do what needs to be done, apologize later.

    Just don't screw something else up in the process. :\
  • by errxn (108621) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:46PM (#14620991) Homepage Journal
    I get on /. to try and escape this crap for a few minutes! Thanks a bunch!
  • - Look for an external company that is dedicated IT support outsourcing (local, so they can be on site if needed).
    - Invite them and ask them for a proposal to replace your current IT dept in some functions (make sure to get respose times and costs).
    - Show them to senior management, an ask internal IT to make a counter offer.

    IT needs to start treating you like a customer, not like a problem that needs to be dealt with.
  • by know1 (854868) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:48PM (#14621003)
    what was your username again? *clickety click*
    • what was your username again? *clickety click*

      har har.

      All these other guys think they're so funny, but that was the comment that actually made me laugh out loud... even if it's perfectly lifted from the BOFH stories, it's, well... perfect...

  • Risk and Age (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TedTschopp (244839) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:52PM (#14621053) Homepage
    I think the most important thing to remeber about Large Companies is that most large companies are old companies.

    Most Old Companies are very slow. They are slow becuase they have learned a lot of very painful lessons over the many years. They purposfully slow things down to insure that all the old lessons and painful experiences are taken into account.

    The way this is done is through paperwork, meetings, agreements, etc... Think of it as the company is protecting itself from the stupid decisions of the past.

  • by Thauma (35771) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:52PM (#14621058)
    Make friends with somebody in IT, grease the proverbial wheels. A case of beer can do wonders for motivation.
  • Very seriously, you don't get your work done. There is no sense in covering up for other's incompetence by being super-competant yourself. They call that co-dependant facilitating.

    Don't! When management complains about productivity, calmly give them detailed chapter and verse written during your "on call" downtime. Then management can make informed decisions. Which they cannot if you keep covering for IT.

  • I'm with you. I'm a UNIX admin in a really big company now. The smaller comany I was in was recently purchased by said big company. It's been like swimming though syrup trying to get things done anymore.

    One way to make things happen fast is to say that NOT doing X will incure a risk to the company. You say, we need RAM this week or production app X may break. Every day send out an email to the effect of "6 days until system failure..." The countdown of doom.

    Another is to use process management judo.
  • Sometimes it's self-preservation on the part of the bureaucrats.

    I've started insisting on emailed instructions and approvals from my boss and other internal clients, for protection when controversy erupts. Managers tell me we have a small, friendly company, but it doesn't feel that way when the CEO calls a meeting on five minutes notice, requiring the presence of everyone between him and me, to discuss something I did based only on someone's verbal approval.
  • Make It Happen (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bios_Hakr (68586) <xpticalNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @06:55PM (#14621089) Homepage
    Some number of years ago, I found myself in charge of a private infrastructure. We had maybe 50 servers and 400 users exchanging sensitive information completely seperate from the main, public network.

    Because of the percived importance of uptime on this network, everything required mountians of paperwork. Installing and removing nodes from the domain required three administrators, setting up a new machine required a month on a private VLAN being monitored by a sniffer, memory and hard drives were obselete before they got to the customer.

    Anyone who ever worked around an UPS knows how they die. They give plenty of warning. Having an UPS fail is a rediculous way to lose your backbone infrastructure.

    My predicessor had done a wonderful job of installing an UPS for every router and switch in the datacenter. Problem is, both power supplies in the routers and switches were connected to the same UPS. In cases where an UPS was about to fail, he unplugged the UPS from the wall and plugged it into, you guessed it, another UPS.

    He didn't do it out of ineptitude; it was done because the only option was to clash heads with the IT overlords. They would require studies about how many UPSs failed and if it failed before the MTBF, they'd want us to try and recover money from the manufacturer. They'd want contractors to come in and examine the UPS to bid on a UPS monitor and replacement contract.

    In short, asking the overlords was like asking to be turked by a syphalitic bear.

    So, some BOFH, overwhelmed by the prospect of repairing the power system, chose another path. He walked over to a failing UPS and simply turned it off. He was the only one with the access to turn it back on, so he had no reason to worry.

    Within two hours, all in-progress meetings were cancled. The Supreme Overlords demanded from on high that this lowly tech was to get a blank check and a blank trouble ticket (approved by the Supreme Overlords) to do whatever he needed to do to prevent that from ever happening agian.

    Electricians installed two seperate power feeds into every rack.

    Each power supply got a seperate UPS.

    Old equipment was updated.

    Everything was strawberry fields and unicorn giggles after that for the infrastructure department.

    Now, to answer your question: You have something that someone wants. Hold it hostage till you get what you need.
  • I'm sure there will be plenty of comments like mine, but... welcome to the real world.

    First off, your position is not unique at all. Perhaps it's unusual in your *exact* location/department, but rest assured you're not the first tech worker outside of IT.

    Secondly, this is really your boss' problem. If they're supportive - great! Have them find a way to cut you a check, pass you some cash out of petty cash, bill their company credit card, whatever it takes for you to have a couple of piddly sticks of RAM s

  • do it yourself.

    Yes, if the IT dept is so difficult, start your own with your own machines and staff. Keep it discreet, obviously. Get your work done, and don't go shooting your mouth off about it.
  • by metamatic (202216) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @07:03PM (#14621168) Homepage Journal
    Meticulously document how much of a barrier the IT department is to productivity, and why you don't get things done. Keep a record of every e-mail, and make sure all communication is at least repeated in summary by e-mail, so you have proof. Present the evidence to senior management when they ask why things haven't happened.

    Ultimately if the management chain doesn't see it as a problem, then it's not. Or rather, it's not a problem you will ever be able to do anything about. So once you have that documentary proof, by all means sit and read Slashdot or twiddle your thumbs while you wait for IT to do their jobs. Or even better, use the time to experiment, learn, and gain skills.
  • At EA we were working with internal websites and opera.

    A website developer came down to test it on one of our pc's. With 256mb of ram it took Opera about ~90 Minutes to properly load.

    He turned off the computer went upstairs and within 5 minutes had 1gb of ram in that PC. Booted it back up opera took about 5-8 seconds. And that was just for a 10 minute task.

    Efficient, and the way it should be done. An employees salary - Time wasted ratio is way more expensive than the cost of memory or "The right tool for th
  • by digitalhermit (113459) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @07:08PM (#14621227) Homepage
    Interesting comments...

    I've been in IT for close to twenty years in a couple small startups to some multi-nationals and in my own consulting business. One thing that lots of IT folks lose sight of is that IT is first a support organization within the larger organization. If the larger organization is sufficiently forward thinking, then they can (arrg, PHB-speak) *leverage* IT to be more competitive. But IT folks still have to make sure the website is up, the file server is accessible, users can login, etc., *before* you start thinking about the add-ons.

    If the business doesn't want to spend money on the servers, then document what the consequences and benefits are for their decision. Don't just write that they'll have slower machines, but play Devil's Advocate and write up the business case for not adding memory.

    Or, figure some way to optimize your resources so that less memory is required. This can be as simple as turning off services, or as complex as setting memory and processor caps within the virtual partition. And if you've tried all these and you're just short of memory, let them know.

    In my consulting business my first goal is to keep my customers' infrastructure running. Next is to save them money versus some other consultant. Sometimes they need to spend money up front to save more down the road. Let them know if this is the case.
  • by jjohnson (62583) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @07:08PM (#14621230) Homepage
    Here's what you do: take a simple task like adding RAM to a non-production server, and go through the entire, exhausting process in letter-perfect fashion, meeting every paperwork, audit, and permission requirement. Along the way, document every minute you spend on the process, showing exactly what you're doing, how long it took in minutes, and what requirement you were meeting. At the end, create a spreadsheet showing in careful detail that adding a $500 SIMM actually cost the company $5,000 in processes.

    That spreadsheet becomes the club with which your managers and directors can beat the IT department because they're effectively offloading cost onto you at a rate of 1,000%.
  • I usually try to figure out ways of either circumventing them, mocking them, or getting them to want to do it because not doing it hurts them personally. Three examples:

    1) Circumvention: Recently, I needed a DNS change to point an existing subdomain to a different IP address. Our not-very-useful IT project manager told me they needed to come up with an LOE for changing the DNS entry. Three days later, they told me they hadn't had time to calculate the LOE and would not be able to complete the change by the
  • Even senior management can't break through the barrier.

    IT operations are not independent. There is always a senior-enough management level that can decide to override an IT organization's policies. After all, if the IT group isn't meeting the business need, then it is failing no matter what the uptime statistics say.

    It sounds like you are really running up against a difference in organizational priorities. For whatever reason, your side of the issue is deemed less important than the arguments advance

  • The trick is (Score:3, Insightful)

    by binkzz (779594) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @07:21PM (#14621342) Journal
    To make IT believe they spotted and fixed the problem. It's an ego thing; if you tell them the problem and the fix, they have nothing to do anymore.

    Tell them your machine is really slow lately and the harddrive runs like mad. Sometimes you get a 'Not enough RAM' error, but you have no idea what that could possibly mean.

    Chances are you'll have your stick within a day.

    Alternatively, ask your cute receptionist to go over in miniskirt and take a few sticks of RAM; they'll never know what hit them.
  • by poopie (35416) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @07:46PM (#14621536) Journal
    There are certain tasks (i.e. anything that happens in the data centers) that I don't have the access to do. Even a simple task, like installing more memory in a non-production server, can take nine months and massive mountains of paperwork (no exaggeration)

    So, let me get this straight...
    User is frustrated because request to make standard servers non-standard with a custom request in a datacenter requires paperwork and time. User is upset because IT has formal procedures for change control, service level agreements, and standard hardware configs. User doesn't get ram upgrade and posts rant to Slashdot.

    User is technical, probably dual boots their desktop to non-supported OS, probably hacks computer stuff at home, probably very smart and capable of supporting five or six computers by him/herself.

    IT department probably supports 1000+ machines, and that number has doubled in the last year or so while staffing has been cut.

    IT department probably has 200 servers per admin and only maintans this ratio by with consistent server deployments that maintain standard configurations.

    A good IT organization understands the company's business.

    A good technology worker needs to learn to work with IT to get what they need. You would probably be able to request and justify 10 servers and get them in the time it takes to get a one-off upgrade

    The lack of agility is maddening, because I know we are missing significant business opportunities.

    Lack of planning on your part does not create an emergency on my part.

    Learn how your IT organization works. Work with it.

    we get no support from IT. Even senior management can't break through the barrier

    Perhaps you don't see the big picture. Perhaps you don't see the corporate IT budget and where you/your team/your project is on the priority list for that budget.

    I'm sure there are all sorts of IT departments, but the *good* ones understand the core business and know what's important to the company's bottom line. If your IT department doesn't understand that, then I'm afraid you're going to have to become the IT liason and teach them. Provide them with your requirements well in advance so that they can plan proper deployments. Work together so that you can understand the pain points of IT, and they can understand your hardware/support requirements and the *value* that this will provide to the company.
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @07:53PM (#14621589) Journal
    The IT department exists to make sure they have regular, gainful employment. They do NOT exist to make your job easier, or anyone's for that matter, who does not have direct or closelly indirect firing power over them. There are mouths to feed, mortgages to pay, colleges funds to fund, retirement to dream about.

    Cynical? Yes, but also very true. The above is the root of the issue. I'll put it in the terms that IT would:

    ITs job is to keep the servers running, smoothly, with as little interruption to daily work as possible. As with any complex undertaking, different users have different priorities. CxOs come first. Period. Internal needs come next (see: "servers running, smoothly," above). High profile departments are next - marketing, sales, accounting. The last one is mostly because it comes under a CxO (F - you can choose what it stands for) who is intimitely involved with the month-to-month operation, and through which everyone gets their pay checks (including previously mentioned CxOs). Development is pretty far down, as you can see. You must understand - you don't bring cash into the organization (sales), nor do your efforts directly affect the price of company stock (marketing), both of which are of top importance to the CxOs.

    That does not mean that you are not essential. But you are essential in a way that is ongoing - like the janitorial staff. If they lose development, things will slowly start to degrade, but it will be a while before there is a crisis. Either way, its an expensive mess to clean up, but if you throw some cash at it, you can bring things back to livable.

    Now, lets look at the flip side. If IT goes down for a day, there will be hell to pay, and heads may roll. Every IT person knows this. Anyone who has dealt with complex modern systems knows that it's a house of cards. There are so many things that can go wrong. One failure, if not just costing your job, is certainly going to make for a long night getting things back in order. That would be uncompensated overtime, remember. Also, ten years without a single failure will not make you a hero, like landing a new sales client, or scoring a great marketing campaign which lifts the stock price or sales. It will make the company think you're reliable, but boring. Bonus aren't given out for boring. One failure, on the other hand, makes you a villain.

    Now, if you've made it this far, how much value is there - for the IT professional - in helping you get your job done faster. In case you've skimmed, I'll tell you: none. It's like playing russian roulette for fun. Unless you just happen to like the life-or-death thrill, or have nothing to live for, it's a fools game.

    I wish I had better news for you, but if you have a large corporation, than you have an ingrained corporate culture, and IT subculture. And they don't drift your way.

    Oh, I've never been in IT. They piss me off 'cause I'm an engineer and just want to get shit done, and they want to worry about making sure the CEO's internet never goes down. I've learned over the years that, in effect, that is their job. I've stopped fighting them and learned to either (a) work with them or (b) work around them. The latter is done carefully to avoid stepping on toes. Just as they are under the thumb of uper management, they like to exert their power where they can. That would be against you and me. You don't tunnel under a mountain if there's a reasonable way to pass around it.
  • by lpfarris (774295) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @08:43PM (#14621946)
    This is the sort of complaint I hear constantly. So, speaking from the IT side of the house.... My job is to keep existing systems that generate revenue and enhance productivity up and running and secure. Downtime costs serious bucks in lost revenue. On top of that, I do indeed have an overwhelming bureaucracy to deal with, doubled in difficulty and complexity by Sarbannes-Oxley. The S-Ox auditors are not techies, they are accountants, which means a great deal of irrelevant detail has to be audited. Exceptions to existing application environments and frameworks are extremely expensive in terms of allocating dedicated hardware and dedicated people that could potentially be servicing ten times the resources, but those economies of scale are lost when we have to do special things for someone's one-of project. Handling exceptions is very expensive in a large scale environment. If we need something new, lots of planning goes into it, to make sure we can keep it up and running, and scale to much greater than anticipated load. If you want agility, you either have to find a way to achieve it within existing channels (in our environment, the turn-around for J2EE or Oracle apps is quite short), or you need to convince upper management of the value of a skunk-works type mini-DC for such "agility", with the understanding that anything successful will need to be reengineered to be robust enough for the main DC. Most of all, you have to have a value case. It's not enough to talk about lost business opportunities. You have to be able to quantify the projected value of the opportunity, and balance that against the cost of handling an exception in the datacenter. If IT cannot quantify the cost of an exception, bad on them.
  • by jdehnert (84375) * <jdehnert@NOSPAm.dehnert.com> on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @08:45PM (#14621958) Homepage
    Currently I'm on the IT side of this, so let me play both sides for a sec.

    From the IT side, you can't always respond to every change request ASAP. Simple things like adding more ram and stuff are all easy to actually do, but sometimes there are roadblocks, for instance who owns the system? If it's IT, they may not have budget to add more ram whenever someone asks for it. If it's you or your group, can you get a PO approved?

    Does the system really need more ram? I used to get requests for more internet speed all of the time. It happens a lot less often since I started parading out the metrics to show people here that a) we are not using all of our bandwidth to the internet when their issue occurred, and b) I can prove that we can and do use up all of our bandwidth at times.

    Policies can slow things down too, but to operate without them is a very slippery slope. I used to hate policies but as I moved up the chain in IT and we began to get requests for things that would create a great deal of work for very little return, or even more important, to deal with difficult HR situations, it became much simpler for everyone to be able to point a the policy that says "As far as the company is concerned, there is no personal data on that company supplied laptop, and you need to hand it over now"

    From the non IT side it can be very frustrating dealing with IT some times. If they are really competent,and your requests are reasonable, they will get to your request in a reasonable amount of time. If not, well....

    Here is all I can recommend if you aren't getting the service you need. Make the business case to your manager. Show him or her what these delays are costing the company, and allow them to take it up the chain of command with the data you have provided. In any well run company, showing how you can improve the bottom line should be enough to get things moving. Keep in mind that you will win some, and loose some. There may be issues you are not aware of behind the scenes (partnerships, politics between groups, etc.)

    Leaving is an option, but save that one for when you are certain that you are dealing with real incompetence and you are sure that there is no way to fix things. If you think you have a good company, do what you can to make things right.

  • by Rufty (37223) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @09:00PM (#14622045) Homepage
    I used to work in a *very* bureaucrat infested research lab. This is the place that firewalled "new" ssh but let the "known protocol" telnet, out... Friend of mine was running very numerically intensive spectral analysis/matching on samples. Bung in sample. Get data. Process for about 8hr. So, do last thing of the day and you've got the results next morning. Until, in the interests of a uniform computing experience *all* boxes were required to have the same basic setup and were bolted down tight. This included everything. Including the screensaver that seamlessly blended from slide to slide of the company's publicity shots. Bingo! 100% CPU when the screensaver kicks in and the analysis runs can no longer work unattended. Bummer! OK so my friend takes an old mouse, a clamp stand, a magnetic stirrer and flea, and some epoxy. Glue magnetic flea to mouse ball. Clamp mouse over stirrer. Stirrer agitates mouse. Screensaver never gets to run. Once again work can happen!
  • Help them help you (Score:5, Informative)

    by lostboy2 (194153) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @09:29PM (#14622199)
    My situation is very similar to yours. I am a tech person for a department outside of the formal IT group which sometimes seems to be inefficient and/or ineffective. However, I don't believe that IT is the enemy and tend to sympathize with them.

    In my current position I've seen some of the worst behaviors (in system administration, application development, etc.) practiced by tech people outside of IT who then expect IT to automagically make everything work and clean up any messes the non-IT folk created. On the other hand, there are also times when our IT department really does drop the ball.

    This has created deep-seeded animosity between some non-IT departments and IT, I think. The non-IT folk believe IT are bureaucratic obstructionists who don't know what they're doing; while IT believes the non-IT folk are disorganized, loose cannons who don't know what they're doing. Unfortunately, to some extent, I think they're both right.

    That said, my best advice to you is to help IT help you. Try come to some agreement or understanding with IT and define what it is they they need in order for them to be more responsive to your needs. Respect their needs as much as you want them to respect yours.

    Also, don't undermine or bypass policies and procedures defined by IT. It might seem like you can get around IT's requirements and do something your own way, but that just perpetuates the problem. If you think IT is being unreasonable with their policies, find out why their policies are the way they are. You might discover that there is a good reason for it.

    Think of IT as a finite resource -- don't squander it. I've never met (or worked in) an IT department that wasn't overwhelmed with things to do. Keep in mind that any system you implement may require some amount of time and effort for IT to support and/or maintain it. And keep in mind that there is always a Y2K or Service Pack N+1 or something like that around the corner keeping IT busy. So, as much as possible, budget your IT-time wisely. And, of course, plan ahead.

    You may already be doing all of this, which makes your situation a more bitter pill to swallow, in which case I'd suggest helping other non-IT departments do the same, if they're not already.

    And, of course, doing all of this doesn't guarantee that your IT experience will improve. But, I think it's a case of "you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar" and "you who are without sin may cast the first stone."
  • by Mycroft_514 (701676) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @09:29PM (#14622204) Journal
    may require much more than you realize. Case in point. A developer needed a single column added to a table, and we had done test and acceptance testing. He wanted the column added during the day, so we put it in with an alter - no big deal right? After 50 seconds or so, the alter timed out, and took down users all over the country with it!!!! And the alter did nothing wrong, but it needed exclusive access to the table - and could not get it.

    We had to step back and put the alter in in the middle of the night on a Sunday. And with our usage, we can't even get that time every week.

    Bottom line? Get over yourself. You would do better to go talk to IT and find out WHY things are the way they are, and work with them, rather than against them.
  • by sesshomaru (173381) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @10:24PM (#14622547) Journal
    Everyone in the world knows (exageration, it just seems like it) the following things:

    1. Their computer problem is much more important than any other computer problem that might be on your plate on any given moment. Oh, and they are certainly more important than you going home to the wife and kids or to catch the latest episode of Veronica Mars or whatever you IT people do in your off hours.

    2. Even though computers are mysterious things to them, they know that it'll only take you a couple of minutes to fix any given problems they have with them. So, you can get whatever you were currently working on done, if you IT people even really work rather than surf the net and play video games all day.

    3. The words from the Veruca Salt song in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, "Don't care how, I want it now!!"

    You may know the following things:

    1. It will be very tempting to work on the most obnoxious person's problem first just to get rid of them. Even though that person's problem may be irrelevant in terms of the organizations productivity or profits, since they won't let you alone you may take your valuable time and use it to work on it just to get some peace and quiet.

    2. There is nothing more fun than to be pressured into working late to solve some irrelevant problem because you are being pressured into it by some obnoxious co-worker who may be important in the corporation.

    Face it, most of us need some sort of layer or wall between us and them so that we can work on our manager's priorities rather than J. Random Employee's priorities. When you waste hours on someone's project and your manager comes and yells at you for missing your deadline on your real project, you're not going to be happy about how little "red tape" is in the corporation.

  • I feel your pain (Score:3, Informative)

    by FatherOfONe (515801) on Wednesday February 01, 2006 @11:10PM (#14622819)
    I live in a regulated environment, and understand your issues with getting stuff done. However, there are generally two sides to every story. I will counter your discussion a bit.

    You want RAM in a server. That company currently has over 2,000 server and they have a service level agreement that is currently not being met with the business. They also have people that use to take servers down to just do "one thing" and not document why they were doing it, then when someone else went to update the server later it was not in the state they believed it would be and it created more problems and thus the server was unstable after their upgrade or the downtime was far greater than expected.

    So the I.T. department gets judged by the business on uptime and other service level agreements. They do NOT get charged on helping the business out. So they are very cautious on any change to the environment. They are so cautious that it has gotten ridiculous for any change to occur.

    So what can be done? Well I would need a ton more information than you provided to make more suggestions. I will NOT believe that everyone in your I.T. department is a bunch of idiots and lazy. I bet that around 80% are average to good, 10% suck and the last 10% rock (Like every large company).

    Now a few questions.
    1. Do you have a CIO?
    2. Where is the majority of your I.T. department located?
    3. How does your I.T. department prioritize its' project?

    Those are just the first three that come to mind. In short I need to understand the constraints on the department before any real suggestions can be made. It is far too easy to say "fire them all", and in most companies that would be a huge mistake.

    Lastly, I can say that I have seen a company that making any changes to ANY router took forever. It flat out sucked, however the reason is that this company was part of a bunch of other sister companies and one parent company, and those same router guys use to make changes on the fly (quick), but then it would take down a sister organization for a day or so, until they realized the mistake they made. So because of the major impact to the other businesses those same router guys were not allowed to make a change without a ton of paperwork under the penalty of being fired.

       
  • by KGBear (71109) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @10:13AM (#14625259) Homepage
    ...someone gets to be an IT worker outside the IT department. In my experience, usually this happens because some dept. head is unhappy with IT. They think if they have someone they can control directly, they'll get things done 'their way' instead of the 'IT people's way'. So they go and hire someone.

    This poor soul then comes into the company without any knowledge of the wars that ended up by spawning his or her job and gets all surprised because IT is less than helpful to him or her. If you think their job's simple existence means IT lost that war it becomes clear why IT reacts the way it does.

    But feelings and corporate politics aside, usually and especially in complex environments, there's reason for what outsiders perceive as bureaucracy in the IT dept. This is not to say that sometimes structures ossify and start abusing their powers, by no means. That does happen, but I believe most of the time that 'bureaucracy' is just IT trying to cope with absurd workloads.

    Remember that IT depts have been hit hard by cost-cutting measures. There's never enough warm bodies to tackle all the projects and the backlog is usually huge. Remember that, even if the 'IT person outside the IT dept.' is absolutely flawless in their skills, mistakes and security vulnerabilities, especially done to central resources, will ultimately be blamed on IT and IT will be the dept. expected to correct the problem. Combine these two issues and you begin to understand why IT depts. everywhere are pushing for centralized controls. There's no other way to make sure of a lot of vital things such as: changes are logged somewhere so people know who did them, why and more important, how to undo them if they have to; proper testing has been done before changes are implemented; backups are being done and spot checks are happening so those tapes are actually useful if they are ever needed; all (sometimes thousands) Windows workstations are having security patches applied regularly and anti-virus definition files updated at least daily; etc, etc etc.

    We have what I think is a good plan where I work (state university) - and yes, I work in the IT dept.: you administer, you support; you want our support, we administer. In other words, if you have the root/ administrator password, you are self-supported. Why is that? Because our team of 8 people wouldn't have time to fix everybody's computer if all our 8000 users had the freedom to download and install whatever they want.

    Although I believe 9 monthes is way too long for adding memory to a server, if someone is trying to do it right it's also not a 10 minute job. In our environment we do have to cope with state purchasing laws and regulations, for instance. Yes, getting a memory stick from buy.com and sticking it into the server is appealing, but it's illegal and that's not the IT dept's. rules. Beyond that, we want to make sure we're buying a trusted brand, the vendor has proper warranty, the server actually supports the part, the server downtime will not create other problems down the line. Not to mention, in times of tight budgets, checking if the additional memory is even needed. Maybe trying to be a bit more efficient in your code or database design would save the company a lot of trouble.

  • by ErichTheRed (39327) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @10:46AM (#14625609)
    I've been an IT person for several places, some of which had no rules whatsoever, and some that had the nine-month memory upgrade syndrome.

    I've determined that once an organization grows beyond a "small business", there cannot be a "no rules" approach. If there is, lots of money gets wasted on hardware for people that self-approve their purchases, and critical apps go down in the middle of the day. The apps aren't fixable until the only person in the company who knows the system gets back from lunch, because he has all the info in his head.

    The other side can be worse. My last job was for a company that got the whole ITIL religion. Absolutely everything had pages and pages of documentation attached to it. Service requests got routed through several levels of helpdesk before they got to us. We had a full-fledged project management office that made us spend more time in status meetings than working on actual projects.

    There must be a happy medium. Period.

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