As a disclaimer to this post I’d like to point
out that I don’t feel that IT departments are the Anti Christ. Most companies
have limited financial and human resources for a lot of the technical back
office support and I don’t think there is an IT department in the world that
isn’t under strain because of the restraints imposed upon it by senior
management. Having said that, the way you manage that strain says a lot about
the calibre of IT management and the staff within the structure. Now I have got
that out of the way, let’s go for the jugular!
In the “day job” I work for a medium sized
public sector organisation that has very high security risks and when myself
and two colleagues started a new unit within the organisation the IT department
was very much the tail that wagged the dog. If we asked for certain IT systems
to be put in place the team members would spend more time telling us why they
couldn’t do it than finding a way of implementing our requests. In short they
were lazy, had a nice little system going and, to put it bluntly, couldn’t be
arsed to put themselves out.
At first they tried to baffle with
techno-babble but sadly for them the three of us were pretty IT literate and
shot down most of their arguments as to why they couldn’t help us. There were a
series of major battles and by and large we got our way. Then two years ago the
organisation brought in a new director level bod who is one of the leading IT
experts in his field and that’s when the blood letting started. A massive internal
revamp reduced the team from about 120 to 70 staff and a forthcoming second
round of job cuts is about to cut that by 50%.
This has led to an understandable atmosphere of
bad feeling and a serious deterioration in service and I have four examples of
how this has affected me and my team.
1: Back in February I ordered a one terabyte
hard drive as one of our important processes was eating up the pre-installed
80gb drive. It arrived in a week and, despite countless prods and pushes on the
Assyst logging system, it eventually got installed three weeks ago after the “mission
critical” processes on the PC were jeopardised. Sadly, the technician who
ghosted the old drive didn’t extend the partition so the PC thought the new 1tb
drive was the old 80gb and ground to a halt!
Two days later after another Assyst log and no technician to extend the
partition – a 10 minute job – I informed the help desk that I was transferring
17gb of archive files from the stand alone PC to the already creaking main
server to ensure business continuity. A technician arrived within half an hour!
2: Again, back in February I requested that
Cognos software be transferred from the PC of an individual who did not need it
any more and for it to be placed on my computer. That was finally achieved this
week after several “Ground Control to Major Tom …” messages on Assyst and a
desperate WTF email to the head of IT outlining the delays.
3: A year or so ago I got a Blackberry – or so
I thought – so I would keep in touch with emails and voice calls while out of
the office. The allegedly configured
Blackberry arrived and I was told that I could receive emails but not
make phone calls. Apparently the
Blackberries were part of a bulk purchase with another organisation and they
got the full working kit but because my organisation used a different air time
provider the SIM card couldn’t be used for voice calls. I sent it back.
4: Earlier this year one of my team damaged
some kit on a vehicle. The installation and maintenance of this kit is handled
by IT so I raised a purchase order and asked the clerk to forward it to IT to
obtain replacement parts. Four months later nothing had happened so I rang the
MD to complain about non delivery only to be told that they hadn’t received the
Judging by conversations I have had with other
managers I am not alone. I will get to the bottom of this but it is almost as
though the whole IT team is affecting “If you think this is bad just wait until
you decimate us and see what sort of service you will get then.”
Now I shouldn’t have to send an unpleasant
email to the equivalent of a CIO because I know the pressure he is under, but
when my department’s efficacy is threatened then I will move heaven and earth
and get as nasty as is required. But this begs the question – he did not know
how his department was under performing and are you aware of how your team is
working for the various levels of your organisation? Have you carried out an
audit right down to the lowest common denominator to see how the IT department
is seen? You may receive an unpleasant shock or do you subconsciously know
there are problems and you are sweeping them under the carpet?
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