State of the IT Industry Dreamed 4301 days ago | | 1176 words

A discussion going on over at Bright Meadow got me thinking about the current state of the IT industry from the perspective of those users we’re here to help and the tech pawn who provides the support.

Nothing against the actually IT staff who are working very hard to get it done. But somebody messed up the planning. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that moving 7000+ email accounts to a new server (while people are still trying to use them) might cause problems. —Moose

He’s hit the nail squarely on the head! A “secret” about IT work is that often times, the people making these decisions have no idea what this actually entails! Granted, there are some great people in organizations who really do keep the users in mind and make excellent decisions for the betterment of everyone. However, you also have people that force you to wonder how they got the job they did.

For instance, I remember being told to install software that was not ready for deployment. All printing from it was completely broken and since this app was designed to search out and print forms and documents, printing was a major component of it. This call came down from the IT Manager in the company, who knew the app was broken. But she got her way, and as a result, we had lots of angry people.

Instead of having happy users, the 8-man roll out team got to deal with angry users who were unable to pull up and print important documentation. It’s infuriating to be yelled at for something completely out of your control.

Another huge issue in the industry is the fragmentation of the workforce.

Take for example the site I’m on now. It’s an industrial plant in rural central Virginia. There are two people on-site full time. Myself and the IT Lead. I perform desktop support on about 400 PCs and associated desktop and network printers. The IT Lead on the site supports the network apps that keep the plant up and running. There is a part-time phone support tech who spends his time between three sites. That’s it. That is our entire IT team.

Note how I mentioned there is no server or network tech. Sure, I know a tiny bit of networking and sure the IT Lead and phone guy do as well and we all pitch in where we can. However, we hit another problem. Who holds what contract.

I’m here as a subcontractor through another major company who has partnered with Dell. The network contract is held by IBM, and AT&T handles the phone support.

The breakdown of manpower is one full-timer (IT Lead), and two contractors (myself and the phone guy). We are both here through different contract through different companies. So we’re each got our own set of tools to use and ticketing systems.

If we were all from the same company or gasp full-time employees, I think there would be a lot more loyalty towards the company, integration in our work and communication.

I think there’s a lot of things that have been made worse by all of us being essentially pawns in the IT game, to serve or not serve at the whims and wills of the faceless manager we’re working for. (My manager is about 150 miles north of here, I’ve met him twice, once was the interview).

I am here to serve my user base. That being said, if a more interesting job offer comes along, I’m gone quicker than they can blink. As IT support people, we’re just pawns. We’re traveling nomads with skill sets and knowledge that are sometimes appreciated and sometimes not.

Another issue that I’ve heard over and over again from my users here on site. They can’t understand the people in India. It’s nothing against them, but when you’re Joe Shmoe plant worker and you’re already clueless about your computer, trying to decipher what the person on the other end of the phone is trying to say only leads to further frustration.

As a geek and IT worker, I need to remember to look at things from the aspect of my users. So I relate on a level I can. I don’t know anything about cars. It goes, it stops, it turns. If it stops doing that, has gas, and there’s not something smoking, leaking, on fire I’m at a total loss.

I imagine walking into my local Merchants Auto and explaining I need my car fixed. “It’s broken, it doesn’t do this and that.” (Very typical help desk ticket that comes across my desk). I imagine that instead of a slight southern twang, I’m met with a thick Indian accent, talking a mile a minute, explaining to me what I need to do.

At this point, I just throw my hands up in frustration. The last thing I need when I’m seeking help is a language barrier. And yes, everyone speaks English, but there is a barrier. How frustrating is that?

You’re sitting there at your desk with a simple problem and you can’t get an answer because you can’t understand the person you’re speaking to. Or worse you can’t understand them and they can’t help you and have to dispatch me. There’s hours you’re losing at your job, waiting for me to show up once the help desk ticket trickles down to me from on high.

The current bane of my IT life is an email server migration that is taking place at work. Personally I only had a minor problem when they migrated me which was quickly resolved, but most people have had a lot of problems. This means everyone is trying to call the service desk, which means if you want to report any other fault you have to sit in the phone queue for a minimum of 20 minutes before you can actually speak to someone. The IT department thought the migration would go a lot smoother than it has and didn’t bother to hire any extra support staff for the duration or put in a separate phone line just for email problems. —Moose

All I can say is that I’m sorry. I apologize for all the users everywhere that have had to sit on hold waiting for a helpless help desk monkey to provide no help at all. I know this pain as well as anyone as I’ve had to deal with them too. And I’ve met people who work on help desks, and their lack of knowledge is appalling.

I think too many times money is saved at the expense of the user experience. Roll outs and migrations being the worst offenders. This is not somewhere to skimp on money. Hire extra people. Schedule more help line employees. Do what you need to do to keep your workforce working.

As I see it, it is my job to keep the rest of the company working. I’m not needed until something breaks, but once it does, I’ve got to quickly and correctly get my users up and running as soon as possible. The slower I am, the better it is for everyone else.

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