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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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  • 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.

  • 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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @10:11AM (#45594377)

    Other than the fact that Walmart trucks will go back to the distribution center - with or without boxes in them. This would effectively make THIS postage free. Unless you think that they would UPS them?

  • 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.

Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves. -- Lazarus Long