Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Sorry about yesterday, everybody. I got complaints.
No one is a box of pencils. Everyone is a beautiful and unique snowflake.
Anyway, I'll try to keep it a little more upbeat.
This may come as a surprise only to people who have never read PrettyGeekyThing before, but I have a lot of experience dealing with messed up I.T. junk.
Today's post will deal with one of the methods a company can use to really foul up their I.T. solution. I've seen this.
The most common way involves an attempt at reducing costs. Revenue does not equal profit. Employees are expensive. Often, when lamenting the high costs of having all these people around, a company will ditch the easiest to blame first. Since all things employee related go through Human Resources, cuts often begin right there. They keep enough senior staff to handle lawsuit-free dismissals and they farm out everything else to recent graduates with low expenses and looming student loans.
These new H.R. people have fresh management and accounting classes burned into their brains. Most have never used a computer for anything but word processing and the occasional game of Half-Life. They take one look at the salaries associated with the I.T. department and decide where the next cost cutting will happen.
Staff cuts are always traumatic, but our diligent new hires are certain about the numbers. What they also determine is that there is a pre-existing rift between I.T. and the people that do the "real" work for the company.
No one really associates with those Lord of the Rings trilogy freaks. They wear t-shirts and jeans. They drink more coffee than every other department combined. They speak in a non-stop stream of three-letter acronyms that are probably made up.
In short, they won't be missed.
So "Young H.R." makes cuts. They leave the lowest paid in place in case something catches fire.
The next stage of this process is when the lowest paid I.T. staff start to complain of overwork.
This can't be possible. No one has ever seen an I.T. person work.
Human Resources Monthly has a review of a new work-tracking software that is easy to use and only costs $10k. Sold!
Those low-paid I.T. weasels complain about not having any spare servers to use to run the new software package. Purchasing says they just bought two new servers around the time the mail server stopped working for an hour and when the network drives vanished for an afternoon. Also, none of those no-talent I.T. hacks has ever worked with this software so they start to whine about training or documentation.
One (or more) of the members of "Young HR" went to college with a Computer Science major who is looking for work. Also, that guy had some awesome MP3s at one point.
College buddy is hired. At a premium, because he is a friend.
The low-paid I.T. survivors are still at the bottom of the pay scale.
Mistakes made by college buddy, who has no real-world experience but has authority to make decisions, cause an increase in work for all of I.T.
The work tracking software runs extremely slowly. Also, the feature that dials through to any employee number through the IP phone system still doesn't work right. Any competent I.T. person would have that running like a dream.
Meetings are held. Secret bitter meetings.
"What do those nerds do anyway?"
"You can't blame college buddy. He just got here. There is only so much he could do."
"Can you believe how bad these I.T. geeks have botched the work tracking software?"
"I know! The IP dial-through forwarding doesn't work half the time."
"It doesn't?"
"It doesn't?"
"It doesn't?"
"It doesn't! Try it! I'm sick of checking the directory every time I want to call someone!"
And so Young HR guy #1 configures his phone to forward to Young HR guy #2. Young HR guy #2 configures his phone to forward to Young HR guy #3. Young HR guy #3, not wanting to look like a slouch, configures his phone to forward to Young HR guy #1. Someone presses [enter].

And the lights go out. Senior Management generally spends this time stuck in an elevator.
After some flickering, lights are restored. Fingers are pointed.
I.T. tries to explain about shared servers and extended resources. Specifically, Work Tracking and Power Management on the same old hardware. They talk about untested patches and totally lose the crowd with "sequential dial-back fail over" and it is done. I.T. is outsourced within a week.
Who hired those losers? We need experienced HR people in here! People who hire based on skill, costs be damned!

And the cycle repeats itself. Generally, the network is so messed up it takes high-priced consultants to fix it. This can happen as quickly as once every two years or so in a decent-sized company.

1 comment:

Pamela Moore said...

Okay, Mr. Job Hunter. There's a Hallmark card of a song you need to listen to at http://www.clearchannelmusic.com/cc-common/mfeatures/johnmayerSP/. Listen to "The Heart of Life."

You're a valuable commodity who deserves to be paid and treated well. If someone can't see that, F them in their stupid mouths.

If all else fails, you can spend the last of your money on lottery tickets in hopes of the big break. I just bought my first lottery ticket in three years and I won $2! Whoopee!