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Ask Slashdot: How Do I Convince Management To Hire More IT Staff? 383

Posted by Soulskill
from the make-them-cover-the-help-desk dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I work at a manufacturing company. We have roughly 150 employees, 130 desktops, 8 physical servers, 20 virtual servers + a commercial SAN. We're a Windows shop with Exchange 2013. That's the first part. The second part is we have an ERP system that controls every aspect of our business processes. It has over 100 customizations (VB, but transitioning over to C#). We also have 20 or so custom-made support applications that integrate with the ERP to provide a more streamlined interface to the factory workers in some cases, and in other cases to provide a functionality that is not present in the ERP at all. Our IT department consists of: 1 Network Administrator (me), 4 Programmers (one of which is also the IT Manager). I finally convinced our immediate boss that we need another network support person to back me up (but he must now convince the CEO who thinks we have a large IT department already). I would like them to also hire dedicated help desk people. As it stands, we all share help desk duties, but that leads to projects being seriously delayed or put on hold while we work on more mundane problems. It also leads to a good amount of stress, as I can't really create the solid infrastructure I want us to have, and the developers are always getting pressure from other departments for projects they don't have the manpower to even start. I'm not really sure how to convince them we need more people. I need something rather concrete, but there are widely varying ratios of IT/user ratios in different companies, and I'm sure their research turned up with some generic rule of thumb that leads them to believe we have too many already. What can we do?"
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Ask Slashdot: How Do I Convince Management To Hire More IT Staff?

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  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @06:26AM (#45593087)

    Standard way of doing it:

    - Outline what's wrong with the current undersized staff, where are the bottlenecks, what's being held up because there aren't enough people.

    - Explain how this hurts the company's bottom line.

    - Explain how hiring another person will solve the current problems, increase efficiency, and in the medium to long term, increase revenues more than the cost of hiring this new person.

    If your case is well built, it'll be self-explanatory. If your boss/manager is reasonable, they will see the benefit of hiring a new person. If they don't seem to see the benefit and refuse to see the logic of your case, either

    1/ you haven't built a good enough case (your fault)
    2/ your boss is a jerk and you should quit
    3/ something fishy is going on at your company (such as the company having run out of cash and being unable to hire, even if it'd make sense) and you probably should quit as well

    • by ruir (2709173) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @06:39AM (#45593139)
      And if you dont have time or inclination for this, ask them to hire an external consultant to help you.
    • by Brownstar (139242) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @06:42AM (#45593155)

      That's a start.

      But from my experience the request will be taken more seriously if it is driven by the business teams, rather than the IT staff.

      > the developers are always getting pressure from other departments for projects they don't have the manpower to even start.

      Get the other departments to pressure the CEO to hire more IT staff, so that they can get the projects they need, and will be in a better position to explain what the ROI for the projects they want will be to the company than you will be.

      If they can't justify the ROI for the projects, then if they're rational, which I realize isn't always the case, they will back down from requesting additional development that they can't justify. Which will pull some of the pressure off of your team.

      Not sure how costs are split in your company, but if each department has their own budget, convince them that if they want more projects to be built, they need to allocate some of their budgets to the IT side of the organization so that you can hire the staff required to deliver those projects to them.

      • by ruir (2709173)
        It is obvious just from reading the test: - the poster is the network manager, so no systems for you; - from the size of your machines, you need 3 Windows system administrators; - you also need at least more two people, one for the network, and other for the systems. - The IT Manager should , in the middle, long term , move to management, and hire at least one programmer more. - you need helpdesk people too. At least 2. And them management thinks you are small. For the size of your organization, you need a
        • by rhsanborn (773855) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @08:54AM (#45593691)
          130 Desktops and max of 28 logical servers and you need 3 windows systems administrators!? Cross train the IT manager or programmers, or contract with a local outsourcing team to provide backup. I've found small local IT services shops can do basic systems management at a reasonable cost, and work well when paired with a knowledgeable person on the client side. You be the smart guy, and leverage a local services team who probably have a CCNA, Windows Server admin, SAN admin, etc. on staff.

          The average IT spend as a percent of revenues is around 2-2.5%. That varies depending on industry (tech industry is much higher upwards of 4%), but it's a good starting point. I'd look at where you are at now as a benchmark. As others have mentioned, you need to make a business case. What projects are being delayed, by how much time, and what is the effect. If the effect is that the company misses $200k in revenue or increases production costs, you can probably make a case for additional help. If the effect is the floor manager gets grumpy because he really would like this thing, you probably aren't going to get additional help, nor should you.
      • by Pollux (102520) <speter AT tedata DOT net DOT eg> on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @08:51AM (#45593669) Journal

        ROI: Return on Investment

        I had the displeasure of working inside Walmart stores for four years. (Thankfully, not for them, just in them.) They printed on every one of their distribution packaging boxes at the time, "Collapsing this box and sending it back saves the company $0.11.) Now there's ROI as simple and as plain-as-day.

        How much time is lost due to computer or program downtime? How much time is lost due to broken code? How inefficient is having programmers share in tech support duties? How much money is this costing the company? Tell the company what they save by hiring another employee, and they'll make it happen.

        • by pla (258480)
          I had the displeasure of working inside Walmart stores for four years. (Thankfully, not for them, just in them.) They printed on every one of their distribution packaging boxes at the time, "Collapsing this box and sending it back saves the company $0.11.) Now there's ROI as simple and as plain-as-day.

          ...Except they tried to use it to persuade underpaid retail employees to help the company out. I can just imagine countless stockers gleefully taking the time to make damned sure each and every one of thos
      • > Get the other departments to pressure the CEO to hire more IT staff, so that they can get the projects they need, and will be in a better position to explain what the ROI for the projects they want will be to the company than you will be.

        I'd add one more thing to this. Why is his department working on projects for "free" anyway?

        If Project X needs 50% of a developer's time and Project Y needs another 50%, that developer's salary should be coming fully out of those projects' budgets. As a result, the I

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @06:54AM (#45593213)

      Nonstandard way of doing it:

      - Ignore the issue. Assume you can handle everything thrown at you. Overwork yourself trying to get everything done.

      - Burn out. Collapse under the workload. All IT work grinds to a halt due to lack of sane employees. This might or might not convince the management there could be an issue somewhere.

      - Snap. Apply violence, preferably to inanimate objects. Property damage and blood spatters do tend to get the management's attention very quickly. Carefully explain the issue at hand while they're still listening.

      My direct superior went down this path. He doesn't work here anymore, but his little outburst did result result in our boss-type-people finally fixing pretty much everything he had been complaining about for years.

      • by Bert64 (520050) <bert@@@slashdot...firenzee...com> on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @07:38AM (#45593385) Homepage

        A lot of people just overwork themselves trying to get everything done... If they succeed, then management think everything is just fine and ignore the fact you've been working twice your contracted hours to get everything done. As far as they're concerned, the existing staff are achieving everything required in the contracted hours and they have no need for extra staff. If you keep working like this it creates precedence and upper management will expect things to continue the same.

        They will only take notice if there is an obvious problem, ie projects getting delayed and other areas of the business complaining about the delays.

        The problem is if you suddenly stop overworking yourself and doing so causes these delays, management won't accept that you were overworking before, they will assume that you were doing your contracted hours before and are therefore slacking now.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @07:03AM (#45593259)

      As a simple version of this: just log activities of the IT staff for a month or so.
      Make sure you do it with sufficient granularity (that's tricky) and then highlight what time is spent on help-desking and solving other people's problems, and (in a different color), what time is spent on actually improving things.

      Now your business case, assuming the logged period is fairly standard, is evident: here is how IT is forced to spent its time, and here is what is left by the wayside.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Wrong. That the standard way of getting it rejected. Don't ever try to outsmart a manager when it comes to "managering". They don't care. IT only costs money, and adds no value (execpt when IT is not working, then it has to, pun intended). There have to be VISIBLE problems, service affecting, a-150-employees-including-the-ceo-cannot-work-because-the-windows-domain-controller-is-on-fire-level-problems. Then, MAYBE, when this has happened a few times in fields wher there is documentation that you told managme

    • by Ice Tiger (10883)

      Don't forget to include the opportunity cost of the current setup. People not working on projects that might lead to business outcomes that enhance the bottom line etc

      You also might want to consider shifting anything that doesn't add to the bottom line out the door, for example use O365 instead of local Exchange as that will mean less person hours spent on a commodity service rather than something that differentiates the company in the marketplace.

  • by thesandbender (911391) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @06:27AM (#45593091)
    The simplest, and most effective way to get what you want is to prove that your staffing approach will save man hours/time/money. That is your only effective recourse. If you can't do this you are SOL.
    • The simplest and most effective way is to let a few services go down for a few hours due to lack of maintenance and explain that you're too busy to get them all up again in short time.

  • by sisukapalli1 (471175) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @06:27AM (#45593093)

    If you are stuck between mundane (e.g. boss's email not working) and serious (e.g. database servers are not responding), it may be wiser to offload that part at a lower cost per employee (instead of a network admin to be a backup while you work on help desk issues)?

    I've seen the problem where expensive servers are never installed (they sit unplugged for months) because people are busy fixing email client configs...

    • by ruir (2709173)
      Often then not, helpdesk gives more trouble instead of less. They need to be properly trained and groomed. It is not a magic solution.
  • by yanyan (302849) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @06:28AM (#45593099)

    A lot of graphs and charts showing correlations between more IT staff and productivity, revenue, downtime, and output. :-)

  • by Dan Askme (2895283) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @06:35AM (#45593125)

    I used to work for a company with 150 machines, 10+ servers, few lazer cutters running windows (of all things).
    Programming was outsourced.

    That job required 1 IT engineer, and, 1 IT manager.
    We also operated CCTV systems, when requested by management.
    Onsite callouts to external users, etc etc.
    Yeah, it was a family run company. You know the kind, workload piles up whilst you prioritize the family members requests (no matter how silly they were).

    It sounds like you have the numbers, just in the wrong place.

    "We also have 20 or so custom-made support applications that integrate with the ERP to provide a more streamlined interface to the factory workers in some cases,"
    Theres another problem right there. Sounds like your programmers are simply throwing out quantity, instead of one quality application. It will bite them in the ass later down the line.

    I honestly think your company should only have 2 programmers, 2 IT engineers.
    I wouldnt be surprised if they sacked the extra programmer and made the IT manager focus on IT, instead of programing.

  • by ruir (2709173) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @06:35AM (#45593129)
    The point you have to make is not you need to hire more people, it goes beyond that. Point 1) document the time you are "wasting" with tasks bellow your competence. Point 2) do the math, show them how much they could save, both with productivity lost in important projects, and most importantly, how much they could save shifting more mundane tasks with cheaper people. Point 3) Document the expenses with outside contractors (if any). Point 4) Make the case for outlining responsibilities and areas of competences. People dont ask airline pilots to pick up trash, or give food to travellers, well again, because their work is expensive. Also, people dont expect taxi drivers to be able to fly a jet. Point 5) Learn to say no. Either when you dont have competences or time. Point 6) Learn when how to say I dont know. Point 7) Know when it is time to outsource some services, either in complex or lengthy tasks.
    • by ruir (2709173) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @06:50AM (#45593191)
      And dont forget also metrics standard in industry. From the top of my head, normally is an administrator for every 50 windows machines. I can be wrong, research about it, put there known names, like Gartner. I personally think they spew bullshit, but management loves numbers and metrics.
    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      Point 2) do the math, show them how much they could save, both with productivity lost in important projects, and most importantly, how much they could save shifting more mundane tasks with cheaper people.

      Make sure to show them that there is more work than the department can handle now. Otherwise: out you go, in comes a cheaper replacement taking over everyone's mundane tasks, and your not so mundane tasks are taken over by the higher qualified people. After all, if you have work for five people, it doesn't make sense to hire six. It may make sense to replace one with someone with a different skill set, and re-organise the work.

    • by gorbachev (512743)

      That assumes the CEO/company understands the difference between an "airline pilot" and a "taxi driver".

      Some companies for which technology is not a core competency don't really know,

  • You should have timesheets detailing everything you actually do, a list of tasks that need to be done as well as time estimates against them. Present that as your business case. Remember though staff are very expensive, for such a small organisation that is actually a lot of developers but maybe 1 too few admins, perhaps they should also be looking at utilisation of more off the shelf stuff rather than extremely expensive customisations.
  • talk business (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tom (822) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @06:40AM (#45593149) Homepage Journal

    Been there, done that.

    When you talk to managers, you need to talk business. Throw every reason you think important into the trashcan. Then build your case from the ground up as a business case. Show that it saves the company money or increases productivity. Basically, make the case that your proposal == more $$$.

    If management has ever complained about IT being slow or unproductive or their new iPad taking a week to set up - that's your door. Show them how productivity would increase with the expensive IT guys doing the IT work and lots-cheaper help desk guys doing the cheap work. Make sure to use the word "waste" a lot, because it's a red flag to managers - you they leave with the fear that they are wasting company resources unless they follow your proposal, but without you having said that directly, because they have to think they came up with that conclusion themselves.

    And read up on the bikeshed problem - include some trivial, easily understood parameters in your proposal that management can discuss and decide upon.

    And finally, understand that there may be reasons you don't know about that could lead to your proposal being rejected no matter how good it is. I once got a project rejected that everyone agreed was good because the company was about to merge with another one and nobody wanted to make a decision in that order of magnitude (a few million) because management had already begun the "there's one of us in each company but only one position in the merged one..." game.

    • When you talk to managers, you need to talk business. Throw every reason you think important into the trashcan. Then build your case from the ground up as a business case. Show that it saves the company money or increases productivity. Basically, make the case that your proposal == more $$$.

      Essentially, you must dance the corporate Dance of the Seven Veils, in order to entice managers in the only language they are able to speak.

  • Q. How Do I Convince Management To Hire More IT Staff?
    A. you don't.
  • by KingOfBLASH (620432) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @06:52AM (#45593197) Journal

    In addition to the IT department wanting more people, probably shipping, accounting, sales, and just about every other group in the company wants to hire more people. And everyone probably has a good reason, a clear benefit or savings to the company if they get the people they want.

    As the company can't invest in all of these projects (and hire all those people), they'll be careful before they add staff to any group. This is pretty standard. It's not enough that you say "I need more people so we can finish projects on time and get a great network infrastructure." You have to be able to say "lack of IT staff is hurting X groups and costs the company $X"

    Why not look at it another way? Instead of asking for more people, look at the issues being brought up with help desk work. Are you spending 8 hours a day resetting passwords? Maybe you can give the users the ability to reset their own passwords. Or maybe some training will pay off dividends and allow people to make less help desk calls. Cut down on the help required and you can effectively have more time for other things (without needing to hire someone else). You'll look like a hero. Just start tracking what type of issues come in and you'll be able to use that to build your case to management.

  • Unbalanced (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sugar and acid (88555) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @06:54AM (#45593207)

    I'll be honest, you seem to have a large IT department. You have 4 programmers, and that seems out of whack. Now you are a manufacturer are these programmers actually working on internal business systems (so truly IT), or are they actually involved in developing end user software firmware etc (product development).

    If it product development they need to be moved into the development department with the engineers, though the IT manager would then come underneath the product development manager which maybe politically problematic but needs to be done.

    If it is just for internal systems development and support, frankly your doing too much customization of your internal system. I think you'll find that the payback with a company the size your described , for automating and streamlining every process, by heavy modifications to the ERP are actually not there. Get the IT manager to fight against further scope creep of the ERP, sack a programmer or 2 and get in more true IT support staff.

    • Re:Unbalanced (Score:4, Informative)

      by duplicate-nickname (87112) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @11:23AM (#45595259) Homepage

      This was the comment I was looking for. I can't believe a 150 person company needs 4 (or 3.5) developers working on its ERP system. You either have the wrong ERP for the job or incompetent developers.

      That's between $250,000 to $500,000/year to support an ERP system. You could outsource the whole think to the most expensive provider and not pay half of that. We do massive ERP automation projects for Fortune 500 companies at a fraction of that cost with even lower on-going maintenance.

  • Get Good IT People. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @06:59AM (#45593231)
    I used to WRITE industry-leading ERP software, AND I used to manage 120 offices equipped with desktops at the same time, AND run the cable myself through the ceilings. And (other than writing the software) I did it entirely on my own, until I got overworked and hired an assistant.

    That might be a bit less but look at the scale here: you have 4 programmers, programming shit the ERP company should be supplying you already (OUR customers didn't have to know how to program). You need 2 "network support" people although I did all the network support by myself back in the day when Ethernet was just being marketed. We didn't have it yet. It's so goddamned much simpler today I have to wonder what the problem is. If the 8 servers need a lot of maintenance then you didn't do it right in the first place.

    Where your company sucks is help desk. Managers, engineers & other hands-on people should not be doing help desk in this day and age. That's just ridiculous. Tell your management to get some decent help-desk software (some good stuff is FREE!) and hire some (relatively cheap) clerical workers or PHONE JOCKEYS, for Christ's sake, and get that monkey off your back. It doesn't belong there.

    That's cheaper (and often better) than trying to pay tech staff to handle support. You do need to set up a good Wiki (or similar) for FAQ and answered issues, but at least you have gatekeepers to keep people off your back all the time.

    And honestly: if you need 4 programmers to do your ERP, you're buying it from the wrong people.
    • I should clarify what I was saying: if you're the top guy then some support questions will (and should) trickle up to you eventually. But the key words here are "trickle" and "eventually". You should have a layer or two of (again, relatively cheap) people under you to handle the more routine things.
    • by ultranova (717540)

      I used to WRITE industry-leading ERP software, AND I used to manage 120 offices equipped with desktops at the same time, AND run the cable myself through the ceilings.

      You had it easy. We had to mine the copper for the cable ourselves. And walk to the mine through a snowstorm uphill both ways. But at least I had copper; my predecessor had to push hydrogen nucleus together with their teeth.

      Heck, I heard the whole Big Bang was just a server room project that got out of hand...

    • by jon3k (691256)
      After spending many hours researching I'd suggest osTicket [osticket.com] for helpdesk software. It's free and open source and really good.

      Just curious why you think IT is simpler now than it was before Ethernet. Or did you just mean cabling specifically? That seems kind of counter intuitive. The demands from their users on IT departments is much, much higher than it was 20 years ago.
  • You should track how you and your staff spend time for a week or so (a typical week). Then you should point out how much effort (FTEs) mundane support tasks are taking, and how much is left for system development, programming.

    When you do that, do point out the extra penalty for efficiency due to constantly have to answer support request. (assuming it is inevitable)

    Then list all requests for system improvements, what are the benefits of each when looking from a business perspective (bottom line impact). Do

  • To justify spending on any project, you have to explain why it is worth spending money on. This is standard practice for any large expenditure.

    It's a simple concept, but it's hard to do well.

    Simply identify the benefits of hiring someone, and their value. If the additional value is more than their cost, by the required return, they'll spend the money.

    If you spend your time doing other stuff, point out you spend x% of your time doing this other stuff, and if you consider the context switching overhead you're

  • Hire a Temp (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @07:07AM (#45593273)

    Hire a temp, it's usually easier to get a temp approved to knock down ticket times. Make them your Helpdesk person and have them handle basic low profile stuff. Temps are less threatening to management but do this every time you get backlogged eventually it will be cheaper to hire someone than to keep paying a staffing company. At the very least you'll get help to lighten the load even if only temporarily.

  • by thatkid_2002 (1529917) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @07:17AM (#45593311)

    The way I see it - the "IT Department" is really just you because the programmers are more akin to an "Engineering" or Tooling department IMO. Are the programmers providing IT support? If so, this is a double edged sword for obvious reasons.

    I have worked in offices only slightly smaller than that company and we needed at least two people most days - and we had the benefit of having outside help for a lot of things (having a high staff turn-over didn't help).

    I think it's worth making a business case focused argument rather than a "we need help" based one. Perhaps you should get the help of a manager who is not in the "IT Department" to help build, mentor and deliver the case. This isn't necessarily because your existing IT Manager is incompetent, but mostly because he is too close to the issue at hand and is unlikely to be taken seriously because of it. He also sounds like a typical tech guy - and thus probably isn't quite as tuned into non-IT culture.

    • Ah, I got distracted while writing my initial reply and failed to re-read TFS to get the answers I wanted. Yes, the programmers are doing IT/support tasks rather than addressing business needs and things are going pear shaped because of lack of focus. Though my solution remains the same.
  • by martin-boundary (547041) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @07:25AM (#45593339)
    Don't ask for more people! Ask for more money!

    Tell the boss you can get rid of the four programmers by using a new super AI scripting system that only you can program. Tell him with the money he saves on the four salaries, he can pay three of those salaries to you on top of your normal one, and he's still going to save money! Win-Win! Next, you need to gain access to your Windows boxes without a gui: Simply install a Russian botnet, with a web based control interface. You can get an old one from any online Mafia surplus store. Next, you can simulate the AI system using a dozen cheap Indian IT professionals who simply do the needful overnight via the web interface. Demonsrate the system to the boss, claiming it's a natural language interface (don't mention the Indians). Make sure you finish the demo with a difficult task which is written in incomprehensible New Zealander slang, to show that the system still has just a few bugs left. When the boss is impressed, ask for another $500k to develop the system, promising joint marketing rights when it's finished. When difficulties arise in the next 6 months, ignore them, claiming you have coding to do and the final version will solve everything. At some point you will get fired. Use the golden parachute you negotiated after 3 months, when you were claiming that Google have been pestering you with job offers twice each day (proved using forged emails).

    Now relax, count your money on the beach in Acapulco, and install an experimental version of Arch Linux on your Beowulf cluster of Raspberry Pi's. Log onto the Internets using your satellite phone, and help newbies with their sysadmin questions long into the sunset.

  • Ratios (Score:5, Informative)

    by ledow (319597) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @07:27AM (#45593353) Homepage

    I work in inner-city schools. My last job was for independent (private) schools.

    We had 380 kids, 50 staff, 50 desktops, 50 laptops, 50 netbooks, 50 tablets. We tied it all in on site, with VoIP phones, structured cabling and also wireless, dozens of apps (some dating back decades), dozens of printers, access control, CCTV, even the boilers were computer-controlled. Every classroom was kitted out with projector, whiteboard, phone, laptop point, printer, and a few bits of miscellany. It was all wired back to 6 servers, and we offloaded quite a lot of external stuff like email to Google Apps.

    There was me. Just me. And an independent audit recommend we get someone else to help me but it was going to be just an apprentice.

    The computer systems ran everything, including a bunch of legally required systems and the finance (several million pounds a year just in school fees, for instance). Building projects happened every Summer and generally added several rooms and meant recabling large parts of the building every six months or so.

    Outside contracting was limited to cable running (not even crimping, etc.) and third-line support. We had a helpdesk ticketing system, regular computer-based exams that affected the children's education if they weren't run properly, an MIS that held stupidly critical information and was in use by the staff every moment of every day.

    And, I'd like to reiterate, there was just me. Now, I left because of overburden but that was after 5 years of all the above running quite happily and only THEN (after a staff change) did they try to pile duties like managing the boiler control systems (what the hell do I know about gas boilers the size of a room?), overriding all my freedoms and choices (ordered a VoIP phone - normally £100 and next-day delivery.... six months later, the order still hadn't even gone through the system) and expecting decisions-by-committee where the committees still wouldn't exist six months later.

    As such, I left not because of the IT workload but because of the management bullshit that suddenly appeared above me and stopped me doing my job. Several others left with me, and the number of constructive dismissal claims went through the roof.

    And you're sitting there with 4 programmers and 2 "general" IT staff on something that I would consider - at best - equivalent, and moaning? My sympathy isn't with you. I made more than 100 customisations to a single process on a single machine, running more than 25 separate major functions which was so funny that I used to label them (e.g. "Fax-to-email server", "Intranet server", etc.) on the side of the machine and I ran out of room on a tower case. Hell, just the copy of Hylafax I was always scared to upgrade because it had so many home-brew patches and configuration quirks that it took a long time to do so from the bare source.

    Multiply that up by the various other servers, failovers, etc. and I did more programming on them than I did any other kind of tech support. One of them even had some electronic relay control boards that I had to design and build myself, controlled by that same machine and even controllable remotely via authenticated SMS message (heavily patched gammu installation).

    So in terms of your people ratios, I have little sympathy. And you have a LOT of programmers to make your life easier. I spent most of my time chasing external tech support for stupid unresolvable issues in binary software that they refused to update/support. Things like hard-coding the version of Flash required but not being able to recognise two-digit major numbers (e.g. Flash 10), the company going bust 10 years ago, but the software being "vital" to the school's curriculum. Things like software running under Windows 95 "everyone is local admin" conditions but having to deployed in the two IT suites and various standalone and staff laptop machines such that children could run it unsupervised.

    Couple in heavy web filtering, huge legal requirements (all staff machines

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Most people cannot perform at that level.

      You were underpaid, and I hope your next position was better compensated.

      • by ledow (319597)

        Strangely, my "next" position was a one-day trial at a huge private school.

        Six guys, didn't manage to do as much in the entire day as I would have done in my pre-morning checks. It was embarrassing. Tickets months out of date and lots of fobbing off. Couldn't even be arsed to leave their rooms which had a pathetic absence of tools or useful machines (sure, quad-screens looks cool... what the fuck were you using them for?).

        I'm sure that the average worker doesn't do as much as I do, and I can name dozens

    • by Pollux (102520) <speter AT tedata DOT net DOT eg> on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:04AM (#45593741) Journal

      Try one man, 1200+ users, 500+ machines, and 8 servers. Public school. Less salary than you can shake a stick at. But I'm passionate about K-12 public education, and I love helping kids. Don't like it? Tell your superintendent why, then walk away.

      I think both you and I know that a school environment is not a business environment. A business generally has income dependent on productivity. A school has generally a fixed income dependent on student enrollment. If the submitter can increase productivity by hiring another employee, it's worth money to the company. If a school can increase productivity by hiring another employee, it doesn't mean jack squat.

      In terms of your ratios, I have little sympathy. And take your rants out someplace else. It's not productive to the conversation.

  • Q: How do I convince management to hire more IT staff?

    A: Quit.

  • by HnT (306652) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @07:36AM (#45593381)

    Your main issue is: in every single sentence you told us you said "I want", "I need" something to essentially make the situation better for you and your co-workers and you want the company to spend money for that. This is completely useless since all they hear is you asking for a favor to make your life and your job easier for YOU, and you presented mildly or barely business-relevant arguments as a justification for that but your main points were presented about YOU and your team. It is not an issue for management if you and your coworkers are overworked as long as things are still running; they will brush that off as "the geeks are just whining" or "times are tough but it will get better". It obviously has not been an issue so far that certain projects got delayed. And "we could do better" is something managers don't care about because it is universally always true even if you are the leader in that area.

    You mean well but you are selling it completely wrong. If you really want to work on bettering the situation then you got to learn to play politics and understand business and partially go against what feels natural for a tech. That means you need to establish an actual issue in the managers' minds first. This could mean weeks, months if not years of pointing to an issue when it pops up and showing how it affected the business in a negative way. But be warned, nobody likes bad news and to be constantly nagged, so you will need tact. It could be done opportunistically, piggy-backing a crisis. Bob in accounting not being able to start his Excel fast enough is not such an issue. Losing a client because your infrastructure could not provide the necessary information is a very real cause to do something. The whole network being down and nobody being able to access their emails for two days because your only network admin was sick or on vacation is a very serious business risk to consider. If you have shady ethics then such an incident can work wonders if management really does not understand how serious the situation is of not having a backup admin for vital infrastructure. Managers love their emails, that is a point they will instantly understand.

    Don't tell them what they should do, show them the real business-relevant issues and be prepared for them to completely ignore it despite all the sense you are making - running a business means constantly balancing more or less serious issues with very serious issues and crises and often getting it wrong and if there is no money then your issues could be severe but they still might be unable to do anything because there simply is no money. If they do listen, be ready to make suggestions and keep things simple and clear. There is a very descriptive saying, "pictures for kids and executives", that is how simple and clear you should keep it. Never argue with "too much work".

  • You can make any arguments to management that you want, but I've done more with less and I recommend you do the same. Take charge learn your systems and become the expert who doesn't need help. Then go get a new job or start a firm as an IT consultant. Your first client can be the one you leave.
  • Talk money: man hours, capital investment, returns.

    Will it profit the company?

    This is a language problem. Know your audience, use their language

    Restrain your Tech nature. Management doesn't care and never will -- just shut up about it.

  • by sirwired (27582) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @08:09AM (#45593507)

    Off-hand, four programmers for a manufacturing company with 150 employees seems a bit high. Is your current application environment really so inadequate or dynamic that you need four people to keep up with the changes?

    But yes, a dedicated Help Desk Tech for day-to-day "box won't boot" problems is cheap and effective.


  • This is what your senior managers are often most concerned about.

    The way I see it you need to figure out how much it costs the business if function X breaks. If the network fails, how much does the business lose per day.
    Let's not forget there is an additional cost if the usual staff cannot do their work, time lost to restore backups etc.

    Now factor the cost of getting some adhoc help via an external company in case of emergency. Eventually the network will fail and if you alone cannot fix it you'll need
  • You need to show how much of your time is being spent on stuff is help desk, desktop support and so on. You then need to document your cost that is being spent on these activities each week in terms of salary plus benefits (HR can get this for you, typically 1.5 times salary). You then need to document your opportunity cost for those things that you aren't working on that the business needs (systems that support business functions).

    If you can do this than you can show how your company is spending by using p

  • Your boss's job is to make sure that the company turns a profit. Why should he hire more people when everything is working fine right now? This might *sound* like a stupid question, but that's exactly what your boss is going to ask. You need to have an answer for him.

    You say that projects are getting delayed so that you can put out fires. *What* projects? Could these projects save the company money? Could they reduce risk and therefore prevent a loss of money? Are they necessary for the business to c
  • when you run your numbers don't forget that you may be able to "sell" the increases better if you can make it as cheap as possible.
    start with your Help desk do you have a large number of tickets that could be cleared by a "trained monkey"?? Also for the top end folks think "What will happen if i get run over by a bus or go Full Metal Jacket BOFH?"

  • Unless you're selling your software, IT departments don't make money. They either save money or increase productivity through automating manual processes allowing the company to fire people or produce more product with the same amount of people. Having an IT department that is larger than 1-2% of the company causes the costs to outweigh the gains. You'll have a hard time making your case unless your company can either monazite the work your IT department does or you can prove there will be very significa
    • by DaveV1.0 (203135)
      Right and wrong. IT departments don't make money directly. They do, however, help other departments make more money. That is what one must always present to the executive suite.

      IT helps marketing, sales, etc. do their jobs better and faster and adds much more value than cost.

      That is the message IT managers and directors need to continuously present to executives and other departments.

      BTW, a way to do this is to "charge" for IT services the same way facilities "charge" for cubicle space.

  • Tons of outsourced helpdesk available these days. We use it to provide 24x7 to our customers that need it.


  • Every environment is different but I tend to agree with ledow.... Based on what you have stated, I would think your IT dept is sufficient in size.

    I work at a 400 user company (wholesale/retail) with an IT staff of 4: a developer, an ERP help desk person, a IT director who also manages the ERP system, and myself, the sys admin who handles everything else. We have 30 branch locations a commercial SAN, about 16 virtual servers and 8 or 9 physical ones.

    What helps hugely in my case is that the bulk of my
    • by Simulant (528590)
      Let me add this: Most of our printers are leased and maintained by the leasing company which is huge headache I don't have to deal with much. Also, we are a relatively relaxed low-security environment. If you work at a bank, I can immediately see how the increased security requirements would cause much more work.
  • Start speaking the boss's language. They don't think in terms of bits and bytes. They don't think in terms of cases reported and entered. They think in terms of bottom line.

    Do the following :
    1) Establish a business case without using technical terms (jargon in their jargon)
    2) Express the cost of hiring the employee in terms of how much the cost of recruiting the employee and providing a workspace for them
    3) Express the cost over time that the employee provides.
    4) Make an itemized list which expresses how yo
  • You mentioned Exchange. Get rid of it. This is something you don't need to manage. Loose it.

    Farm this out. Depending on your Love Hate with Google they do a great job of managing corp email. Make email not your problem.
    Are you managing a document respository? If so loose it. Farm this out. Do not settle for some integrated POS.
    Are you managing the VM farm? Why? Get rid of it. Go Amazon, Google, Rack Space. You should not be spending more than 10 seconds a day worrying about VM capacity.

    OK now

    • by DaveV1.0 (203135)
      You are making the very large and probably false assumption that the submitter has the authority to make those decisions. Also, there may be an unintended side effect of pushing for such changes: the submitter could end up slitting his own throat by indicating that he is not important and all his job duties can be outsourced.
  • Well, not really.

    Provide a business case showing that if you get hurt or killed, there is will be a serious impact to the business and continuity. Also show how you can only fix one major issue at a time so any major issue will be a serious impact to the business. Remember to show you are close to irreplaceable and effectively a single point of failure which could endanger the company's revenue and good will with customers and vendors.

    Also, as most executives see IT as a cost center, include informatio
  • by Bogtha (906264)

    the developers are always getting pressure from other departments for projects they don't have the manpower to even start. I'm not really sure how to convince them we need more people.

    You don't. You tell the people asking you for stuff that you don't have the resources to do it, and you let them convince your boss that you need more people.

    Stop trying to do everything, prioritise the important stuff, say no to everything else, and if the things you say no to are important enough, they'll find the ma

  • Ask them which of the things they need implemented now is a greater priority and let them figure out the resourcing themselves.
  • My first recommendation is to calculate your cost of downtime due to a failed hardware or software component you control. In some manufacturing environments even an extra hour (if your out of the office and need to drive in) could pay a $25k salary for a year.

    Next is to focus on getting a dedicated resource for intake of calls/emails and to handle most of the running around. The first 2 years someone is out of school they are most willing to work for really cheap. Introduce yourself to some teachers at the

  • You're pretty funny. It's managements job to set the bar so you can "Barely keep up" That's how they extract the most work out of you. If you're stressed out and barely able to keep up, then YOU are the problem. Stop trying so hard. Back the F up. Prioritize your projects, put in your 40 to 50 hrs and go home. If they don't like it they can fire you and retrain someone else. Or maybe they will get you some help.

    The fact of the matter is, if you're over-worked and ok with that, they have no business reason t

  • We outsource our helpdesk to a (US BASED!!!) company that charges a very reasonable per incident fee. They are extremely professional and will do pretty much anything we train them to do and provide documentation for. I've been EXTREMELY happy with them. We use them to provide after hours support, in lieu of me having to staff people at night. I'm not going to post the name of the company here unless you specifically ask, because they don't pay me.
  • In a company where (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bravecanadian (638315) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @12:39PM (#45596393)

    IT is not a part of the business model -- you most likely don't.

    You're considered a necessary but unwanted expense like keeping the lights on and are usually treated like the janitor.

    No one cares who you are or what you are doing until there is a mess somewhere. Then it is your fault for not having cleaned it up already.

    Welcome to IT.

    If I had known years ago what I was getting myself into I would never have gotten into this industry or at least I would have had the sense to work in a business where IT *is* the business. Hopefully I will be able to make that transition in the future.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."

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