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Justifications For Creating an IT Department?

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the dual-purpose-departments dept.

Television 214

jjoelc writes "This may sound like an odd request, so first some background. I work at a broadcast television station, and I have found it to be very common for IT to be lumped in with the engineering department at many stations. I believe this is mainly because the engineers were the first people in the business to have and use computers in any real capacity, and as the industry moved to file-based workflows it has simply stayed that way. I believe there is a need for IT to be its own department with its own goals, budgets, etc. But I am having a bit of a rough time putting together the official proposal to justify this change, likely because it seems so obviously the way it should be and is done everywhere else. So I am asking for some pointers on the best ways to present this idea to a general manager. What are the business justifications for having a standalone IT department in a small business? How would you go about convincing upper management of those needs? There are approximately 100 employees at the station I am currently at, but we do own another 4 stations in two states (each of these other stations are in the 75-100 employee range). The long term goal would be to have a unified IT department across all 5 stations."

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So let me get this right (5, Insightful)

InterestingFella (2537066) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515078)

You believe there is a need for IT department, but even you have rough time determining what that need would be. If you cannot think of a reason yourself, why are you suggesting it to begin with?

Re:So let me get this right (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38515152)

The OP seemed a bit ambiguous with the "'likely because it seems so obviously the way it should be and is done everywhere else.", but I am going to take it to mean that it's fairly obvious that they should be separated because they do in fact have separate goals, agendas, etc.... but what's a good business-speak way to make the case?

Re:So let me get this right (5, Funny)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515406)

To synergize our leveragables into a new cloud based paradygmn, we'll need a new solutions oriented IT team to create some actionables to create a win-win in reducing internal friction and increase efficiencies to enable the monitization of our empowered workforce.

Re:So let me get this right (0)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515428)

Well, I'd probably remove the spelling errors, or at start a new viral spelling system that matched those misspellings to make you seem more edgy.

Re:So let me get this right (5, Funny)

Flyerman (1728812) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515798)

We put the IT in monitization.

Re:So let me get this right (1, Funny)

jhigh (657789) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515430)

And to think that I just used the last of my mod points - well played.

Re:So let me get this right (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515600)

BULLSHIT!

Ok, what do I win?

Re:So let me get this right (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38515646)

We did that in our organization. Then we fired them all and outsourced our IT.

Re:So let me get this right (5, Insightful)

Sitrix (973862) | more than 2 years ago | (#38516124)

I knew a company that did just that... Outsourced company milked that company for money for a few years, while making short term decisions (often bad ones). Then, one day things started to break constantly and consultant was hired to locate source of the problems. Later, that IT was brought back "in house" to avoid making messes like that in the future. People that work under same roof as your company, tend to care a little more about your operations. This is just one example out of many, where short term thinking of cutting IT spending ended up costing company a lot more in a long run.

Re:So let me get this right (1)

datavirtue (1104259) | more than 2 years ago | (#38516134)

I think I just died a little.

Re:So let me get this right (0, Troll)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515548)

it's fairly obvious that they should be separated because they do in fact have separate goals, agendas, etc....

And this is exactly why you shouldn't separate IT. Immediately you start having separate goals and agendas the business people start hating you and you stop contributing effectively to the future of the company. This means that you have more difficulty getting budgets justified to actually do things. There are advantages to having a separate IT department; it may make it possible to have a coherent vision and fewer systems doing the same things. However, these advantages could be achieved by having a CTO/CIO type with technical knowledge and vision and healthy cooperation and discussion between departments.

As far as you can; keep the IT people as close as possible to the business and use virtual cooperation (IRC if you can, some kind of Yammer type system if you can't) and common sense to achieve common systems. Be aware that this makes IT look more expensive since you start actually doing more and you start fulfilling business demands. Make sure that if some idiot comes around trying to measure that you have a way of identifying and justifying the extra part of the cost which comes from actually doing useful things rather than just blocking the work of the rest of the company.

Obviously, for empire building reasons everyone else seems to have mentioned, this ideal vision very seldom actually happens.

Re:So let me get this right (4, Insightful)

sheehaje (240093) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515660)

Not sure what the business speak is, but the primary points to get across are:

An IT Department will evaluate needs of the other departments and determine ways computers can streamline day to day functions, primarily by automating current manual processes

An IT Department will help build computer usage policies that keep employees productive and the data systems reasonably secure

An IT Department will help determine systems to expand service to the customer base. i.e. web applications

An IT Department will recommend avenues to promote the company online to the marketing department

These are all things that IT people do that the Engineer department doesn't need to get their hands in. Honestly, most IT departments split time between engineering like functions (Network design and implementation), business analysis (Finance, Personnel systems, etc) , and marketing (online presence). When IT is gets lumped into one of those departments instead of being it's own entity, usually it takes on the persona of that departments function. When I first started in my job (back in 1997), IT was part of the finance department. We relied heavily on consultants for network, security, etc., and were mostly comprised of programmers. Our main function was to help finance with spreadsheets, and write time and attendance systems, and other financial tools.

We are now a fully functioning IT Department, with our own hierarchy. We do all the network implementation, pc support, server implementation. We have a few programmers who still do business analysis and programming for the different departments (not just finance). We also maintain a disaster recovery site, and have invested heavily in virtualization on both the server and desktop side. Things we would've never been able to do if we were still under finance. In the end, our whole IT department is about 1.5% of the total budget. That seems low, but our budget is around 300 million a year and about every 4 or 5 years, we can infuse more capital into the budget if our projects warrant it. We also charge back to the other departments as we are a shared service. It all needs to be analysed to determine if a business is large enough to warrant a separate IT department.

Re:So let me get this right (1)

datavirtue (1104259) | more than 2 years ago | (#38516184)

An IT Department will evaluate needs of the other departments and determine ways computers can streamline day to day functions, primarily by automating current manual processes

An IT Department will help build computer usage policies that keep employees productive and the data systems reasonably secure

An IT Department will help determine systems to expand service to the customer base. i.e. web applications

An IT Department will recommend avenues to promote the company online to the marketing department

** IF you have a culture that will allow these things to happen. **

Re:So let me get this right (5, Insightful)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 2 years ago | (#38516274)

Many of these are all things an IT department does BADLY.

a. It is NOT the job of the IT department to streamline the business. It is the job of the IT department to facilitate computing resources for other groups within the business who find it worthwhile to streamline using computers.

b. It is NOT the job of the IT department to keep employees productive. Nor is anyone in the IT department qualified to make decisions about employee productivity outside of the department.

c. It is not the job of the IT department to set information security policy. It is the job of the IT department to educate the other groups within the business as to the security impact of candidate business choices, enforce the information security policies those educated groups ultimately select and architect the system so that divergent security policies between the groups can not damage each other.

d. It is not the job of the IT department to market the organization online. In a successful organization, the online marketing professionals sit in the marketing group. It is the IT department's job to provide computing resources, to help vet prospective vendors and, on occasion, to warn the marketing group away from kinds of computing use that could be considered unethical.

The engineering department at a TV station *IS* an IT department. They manage the electronic equipment and the maintenance of the equipment which facilitates the business. Under no circumstances should an IT department stand alone from the engineering department; IT operations is unambiguously subservient to the overall "engineering" effort.

Re:So let me get this right (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38515160)

Sounds like someone wants help justifying their request for a team leader job.

Captcha: retard

Re:So let me get this right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38515224)

Sounds like someone wants help justifying their request for a team leader job.

Captcha: retard

Or this person could just be looking for some ideas and thought the people who visit /. were of some value. Maybe that person was wrong.

Captcha: above A/C yet another wannabe with no real value to the /. community.

focus on the problem (2)

noh8rz2 (2538714) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515526)

I would start by focusing on what the problems are. Outages from IT problems? Viruses? Downtime? Trouble with TV transmissions? Put a dollar value on the problems and you'll be 80% done with your sales pitch.

Re:So let me get this right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38515172)

If you cannot think of a reason yourself, why are you suggesting it to begin with?

Because if he creates it, there's a good chance that he will be the one put in charge, he then gets to put "Director of IT" or something like that on his resume, he then applies for jobs elsewhere - maybe even at the VP level or CIO, and he makes a shit load more money and then can buy better cocaine - he IS in TV after all.

Re:So let me get this right (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38515180)

I think he's talking about business justification, ROI, etc. Here are a few ideas:

1) uniformity and consistency across all 5 stations (reduced downtime and troubleshooting)
2) tighter controls/policies minimize security risks
3) faster turnaround on issue resolution (engineers aren't busy with other tasks)

Re:So let me get this right (1)

datavirtue (1104259) | more than 2 years ago | (#38516248)

1) uniformity and consistency across all 5 stations (reduced downtime and troubleshooting)
2) tighter controls/policies minimize security risks
3) faster turnaround on issue resolution (engineers aren't busy with other tasks)

If there is no perceived problem in these areas right now then it is a climb akin to Mt Everest in justifying this change to management. I've seen IT directors allow problems to fester and blow up because it is easier to get management on board for changes in light of a crisis. Mind you, this is after sending memos apprising them of the risks and current situation before things blow up--but it does no good to push things if upper management isn't concerned about it at the time. No fire, no problem. Your fires are not their fires.

Re:So let me get this right (1)

dasherjan (1485895) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515202)

"You believe there is a need for IT department, but even you have rough time determining what that need would be. If you cannot think of a reason yourself, why are you suggesting it to begin with?"

That's a very good point.

The OP might want to sit down and think about how he/she would lay out a new IT dept. Think about what tasks need to be done and what resources are needed to make that happen. That should help get the process of writing the proposal rolling.

Re:So let me get this right (4, Interesting)

j-pimp (177072) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515252)

Maybe he is simply a bad communicator in general, or bad at communicating to the business stakeholders. From his point of view it would be a good idea, because he sees IT as a separate discipline from engineering (in the sense of the particular discipline of television engineering I presume). He knows it would be better for him if he was in a separate IT department, but he doesn't know how to sell it to the business. There have been times where I felt I was right, but lacked the domain knowledge to make the case to the other side. For example, look at this question [stackexchange.com] on english.stackexchange.com [stackexchange.com] . I emailed ESR and requested he answer this question because I knew he had 1) good communication skills, 2) a better understanding of English and languages in general then I had, and 3) an understanding of DNS. While I am an OK communicator, I lack the in depth domain knowledge of linguistics to put forth an argument as eloquently as he does. To put it another way, pretend you wanted a raise. You know why its good for you, and you may understand why you are undervalued. However, you may not know how to sell it to your boss.

Re:So let me get this right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38515336)

I emailed ESR and requested he answer this question because I knew he had 1) good communication skills,

Mod parent (+1, Funny).

captcha: molest. What is it with the captchas today?

Re:So let me get this right (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38515304)

The only reasons that make it happen is: An IT department will save us money in the following ways: x, y, z.

You know your business and issues, so you have to fill in x, y, and z. Classic examples are reduced downtime, standard equipment and software purchases, consistent backups, someone to provide troubleshooting and training, documentation on the environment, and the ability to prevent the next IT trainwreck.

Re:So let me get this right (2)

jhigh (657789) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515466)

The only reasons that make it happen is: An IT department will save us money in the following ways: x, y, z.

This.

The reality is that unless you can have a positive effect on the bottom line, you're spinning your wheels.

Re:So let me get this right (2)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515584)

I agree. To sell the Idea you have to sell how it will save money and provide better overall service. If there isn't a cost savings, then it isn't going to be picked up. If it ends up costing more (i.e. New Manager positions to oversee new department) then it certainly wont be picked up.

Re:So let me get this right (2)

Caratted (806506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515324)

If you read into it just a bit, I think he's probably having a rough time with something else: justifying IT to upper management. Which is a topic that comes up all the time, and could have found good results with a simple google query.

Start with one big thing: work efficiency. How much work are your workers getting done when they're focused? How much more work would they get done with an IT department that has it's own budget (which has its own benefits for upper management)? Include engineering in that estimate - I don't just mean wait times on PC's, I mean how much time is everybody spending per day/week/month solving little problems for way too long when one or two IT centric individuals could have completed the task in a fraction of the time? Upper management justifications are nothing but tricky ways of saying "we will save you money/give you more money back on your investment." I could spew that shit all day long, it should be easy to convince them. Give them some made up metric by which they will be able to track their ROI. Make your spreadsheet in a year and put in whatever numbers you want to make it look good. This is America.

Re:So let me get this right (1)

datavirtue (1104259) | more than 2 years ago | (#38516128)

"likely because it seems so obviously the way it should be and is done everywhere else. "

Because it is done that way everywhere else is your cue that it may not be the best idea. Begin with identifying the real problems you perceive and determine if they mean anything to the business and if changing them is going to make your business and people more productive and happy.

If you can't find rock solid evidence for that then leave it alone, maybe making minor changes that would yield a benefit.

Re:So let me get this right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38516174)

There is a huge chasm of a difference between observing day to day problems with the way things are running, and then crafting a persuasive argument to support a concrete change. It is a specialized skill that is hard to develop and if you don't even appreciate that there is a skill there, you may want [smbc-comics.com] to reconsider [wikipedia.org] .

Step by step action plan: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38515130)

1. Give up.

Re:Step by step action plan: (0)

davewoods (2450314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515146)

2. ???

Re:Step by step action plan: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38515176)

3. Profit.

Re:Step by step action plan: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38515446)

This is why we can't have nice things...

Re:Step by step action plan: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38515184)

2. Ask Shashdot

1 place (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38515162)

1 point of call and 1 place to run things properly

The primary justification... (1, Insightful)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515178)

... is the sweet, sweet rage it will engender when your future IT techs tell folks that they can't use their iPhones and the editor of their choice for undisclosed security reasons. Ah, I can feel the little bits of evil already spreading, ruining people's days, causing them to hate their neighbor, kick their dog and neglect their children, leading their neighbor to flip off an old lady, the dog to bite the postman, and the kids to grow up to drug addicts.

Bwahahaha! Screwtape, you ain't got not nothin' on IT!

Re:The primary justification... (1)

futuresheep (531366) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515222)

GGruman is that you???

Re:The primary justification... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515640)

He said he wants an IT department. Not an IT-Security department.

Re:The primary justification... (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515668)

He said he wants an IT department. Not an IT-Security department.

So it's different justifications.

Re:The primary justification... (1)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38516148)

Most folks would agree that security falls well within the prevue of IT.

Define your "need" (4, Insightful)

Count Fenring (669457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515218)

This may be a bit naive, but maybe the fact that you're searching for justifications is a sign that you're not quite approaching this the right way. Maybe look at it this way - what is the need that this is addressing, the problem it would solve, the advantage it would give. You say that you believe that there's a need for IT to be its own department - why? Define that need clearly, then start working on the proposal from that.

Also, I'd give a strong thought to the relative advantages and disadvantages of the current system - it's easy to just disregard "the way things have always been done" as valueless, but processes evolve for reasons, and to at least a minimum level of functionality. Any change you propose needs to have clear, concrete, and valuable advantages over the existing process.

Re:Define your "need" (1)

mounthood (993037) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515524)

Maybe the "need" is something non-IT people don't know about? Do they need backups/helpdesk/security/app maintenance/etc...? Bring in a firm to audit/consultant on IT issues (and make it clear they won't become the IT dept. regardless of their review.)

Uhh (1)

Ze0h4x (2541082) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515226)

Make a formal business proposal and justify its ROI. Also, creating the basic architecture would be a plus... I feel like I'm just stating common sense?

Counterproductive IMO (5, Insightful)

kf4lhp (461232) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515258)

As background, I worked in an engineering department of a TV station for a while, and with the way things are going, engineering and IT are becoming far more intertwined and co-dependent on each other. Splitting them apart would, I think, be counterproductive - you'd end up with IT wanting to do their own thing and engineering being unable to make it work with their side of the house.

Having dedicated IT people and dedicated engineering people is a great idea, but they need a single leader to keep everyone pulling in the same direction (and some cross-training helps too).

Re:Counterproductive IMO (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38515390)

i also worked in the engineering dept of a tv station and i agree with parent. think about the equipment load. sure, there's a dc, a mail server, etc but there's also a ton of satellite, microwave, playout equipment etc that has every bit as much to do with engineering as IT. the important thing to have is a department where IT and engineering can work well together, and in a lot of cases it's totally counterproductive to have a separate department when a large part of your budget is for the acquisition and maintenance of equipment that serves a purpose in both environments.

Re:Counterproductive IMO (5, Insightful)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515606)

Things like the microwave in your example must by FCC regulations be maintained by a licensed engineer.

If you have a rack of 10 servers, where 9 of them are broadcast equipment that serve shows and commercials on-air, and one is the company mail/web/etc. server, why would you administer the two in two separate departments? Broadcast engineering these days is IT, to a very large extent - except that they are IT people with licenses and knowledge of RF and FCC laws and regulations. Creating a separate department to run the mail server is just silly.

Re:Counterproductive IMO (2)

frisket (149522) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515400)

...engineering and IT are becoming far more intertwined and co-dependent on each other. Splitting them apart would, I think, be counterproductive - you'd end up with IT wanting to do their own thing and engineering being unable to make it work with their side of the house.

But even if they are a single unit, you will still get the IT being neglected because the engineers want X instead of Y, and engineering being neglected because IT wants Y instead of X. There is always a risk that engineers will break IT systems because they are engineers, not IT people, and that IT people will break engineering applications because they are IT people, not engineers.

Re:Counterproductive IMO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38515990)

As an engineer says: "We just invent this shit, we can't operate it properly."

Re:Counterproductive IMO (1)

Stargoat (658863) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515512)

Mod parent up.

This is precisely the answer I was going to give. Modern IT needs to integrate its support structure into other departments, not separate it. If I ran a business, I would simply have an Information Security Department and not hire anyone that could not manage their own computer to the ISD's specifications.

Re:Counterproductive IMO (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515816)

I'm in an IT-Security department of a pretty large company, vice-CSO. Our department got the inofficial name "cover-your-ass-dept". Why? Because that's ALL we actually do. I try hard (honestly, no kidding) to make it more than that, actually giving people answers when they ask instead of just drowning them in "shut the fuck up" papers (called that way because they consist of strategy papers, position papers and job instructions, each about 500 pages of very IT-Legalese heavy text, intended not to be read but to shut the person asking up in a neat and simple way, telling them to RTFM. It's like the bible, ya know, whatever they're asking for, it's in there. Somewhere. Most likely in more than one spot. Most likely contradicting itself).

The reason is quite simple. When the shit hits the fan (not if. Please. No company with more than 100 employees is tightly secure, you can't tell me that. If you want to, I'll be there for an audit. I'm actually quite affordable, I do it more for fun than profit...), everyone start pummeling the IT-SEC department, and then you better have a cover-your-ass paper handy to show them that THEY fucked up. Else, someone gets fired. That cover-your-ass paper is usually one or more of those 500ish page heavy documents nobody ever reads. The usual course of action is like this, you could pretty much script it.

1. Shit hits fan
2. IT-SEC gets flak
3. IT-SEC collectively disappears between thousands of sheets of paper in desperate search of "but we told you this could happen if you don't...".
4. IT-SEC finds said "but we told you so" and presents it.
5. Nobody gets fired because IT-SEC did their job (yeah, right) and the poor sod who fucked up couldn't have known it better 'cause he's no IT-SEC.

That's pretty much what IT-SEC is like in some companies. And that's what is actually wrong with it. So you shouldn't have an IT-SEC department. You don't need one! Hire some IT-SEC guru by the hour, have him design your company security policy (we usually have templates ready, just needs a bit of adjustment and you're good to go), and have him come in for a checkup every couple month, maybe 2-3 times a year. That's enough. And plenty cheaper than having a guy sitting around doing nothing but covering his ass.

Identity Problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38515270)

Are there problems with your current setup? If so, how will an established IT department fix this?

-- or --

Will this new approach save money? (reducing licensing, people, etc.)

With that big an organization... (1, Interesting)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515308)

... I'm thinking that you should probably split it off from your development department.

Here's why (from a developer perspective).

It's better for devs to have someone else build a good wall around their sandbox (note: around, not through) then to have us devs make the entire organization's security match our own needs. We're probably competent enough to do things right, just as we are competent to test our own software. And we'll get it right most of the time. Thing is, we'd rather be developing new and cool stuff than doing security and installations for folks most of the time, and thus, get lazy, or miss things that might be obvious to those who aren't so closely involved with the problems that they only see the detail, and not the bigger picture.

And before I get jumped, a good IT department facilitates development, not stifles it, by doing day to day necessary tasks and keeping the decks clear for the developers. And yes, they do exist. True, there are some really bad and draconian ones out there - but it doesn't have to be that way.

Also, it's probably cheaper to hire IT folks than to pay qualified developers to run IT.

Re:With that big an organization... (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515958)

This can work out if, and only if, you steer clear of some cardinal sins I encountered during my years.

1. Keep the devs away from the other departments.
If you separate development and operations, do it all the way. Operations is what the departments talk to if they have problems. This of course requires good documentation so the ops can actually solve problems. If you don't do that, everything will eventually end up on the devs desks.

2. Keep the devs away from anything "live"
There must not be any kind of interaction between developers and the "live" systems. None. Zero. For exactly the same reason, they are after all the ones that created your software, so they are probably the ones that could solve a problem fastest. They are also the ones, though, who should be working at something completely different by now.

Separate ops and dev, but do it ALL the way. Else you end up with very overworked developers and very bored operators who won't have much of a clue of your system, usually ending in such a way that the ops get fired and the departments get merged. Of course, without hiring additional staff to do the workload.

Don't need it (1)

GeorgeMonroy (784609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515312)

If you are lucky enough that your IT costs are hidden in another department then go with it. Once you become a business cost you are done for!

Re:Don't need it (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515484)

If you are lucky enough that your IT costs are hidden in another department then go with it. Once you become a business cost you are done for!

That bad news is that in the broadcasting and general "telecom" world, engineering is already seen as a business cost, and per the OP, that's exactly where he is now.

Why if only we could be in this "technology" field without needing any expensive "technology" or those expensive "technology" people.

Re:Don't need it (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515988)

That's why the devil invented cost accounting and along with it cost and profit centers. Just to make sure that you have to "sell" your services to the other department. Which leads to such harebrained systems like having a too small mail box 'cause IT would have to "sell" you a larger one but your superior won't "buy" it, while a few terabyte on the mailserver are running empty.

Support vs. Infrastructure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38515314)

Engineers handle the heavy lifting and IT gets to sit at a desk all day laughing as the boss repeatedly trips the firewall trying to visit a porn site.
Seriously though, if you haven't seen the tiered IT model you should look into it: having established zones of responsibility saves you time and frustration, especially when it comes down to figuring out what to prioritize--so engineers aren't expected to drop the new broadcast antenna project to run off and fix a dude's desktop for instance.

like any department, need is the determinant (1)

nopainogain (1091795) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515320)

does your company have a need for an extra person or persons with the sole responsibility of managing a queue of issues? Can this be resolved with a patch or upgrade? ------would this process be a burden to the engineering department(or existing department with IT responsibilities? ------Does the existing IT responsibility impact the primary role of the department handling the issues now? those questions will give you the answer of "do i need an IT department" or if you can get away with a contract with a managed services provider.

This is semantics nothing more (2)

spacepimp (664856) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515338)

There is already an IT Department, but it exists as employees, under the umbrella of Engineering. Creating an IT Department simply changes the titles and reporting structure, and adds a new business silo. The bigger question here is what needs are not being met that make you feel creating a new Department is the solution to? If it is a lack of funding given to IT requests/needs then whoever is leading the IT team needs to improve their skill at explaining/justifying IT requests. If IT requests made in the Engineering department fall on deaf ears (which is what I am assuming is occurring), and the company doesn't see this as potentially damaging, then creating an IT department, wouldn't solve the problem. It is a culture issue at that point. Believe it or not many people are bothered by IT expenditures, and are oblivious to the role it plays in operations except when it doesn't work properly. My advice to you would be to itemize what is failing to be met in IT currently and how creating an IT department resolves them. Feel free to post the reply/rant here. For the most part we've all been there, and or are currently there, and maybe we can help package the answers for you.

Justifying a need or a want? (4, Insightful)

pryoplasm (809342) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515340)

If it seems like the engineers of the station can handle it, what exactly are you looking to get out of a standalone IT department? They can be useful if the engineers are overworked, but really you should not try to shoehorn an IT department if it isn't needed.

Do you use Avid or another computer based editor there? Perhaps what the engineers are doing for their role along with IT isn't too much of a burden, or might be a way to clear their mind and work on something simpler.

My first reccomendation would be to check in with the engineers you want to "help". Second would be to check with whoever does budgets or accounting to see if there is any room for it...

Re:Justifying a need or a want? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515554)

If it seems like the engineers of the station can handle it, what exactly are you looking to get out of a standalone IT department? They can be useful if the engineers are overworked, but really you should not try to shoehorn an IT department if it isn't needed.

I've worked in environments like the OP and you really don't want to piss off the production BGP guy by assigning him to explain to the receptionist for the fifth time exactly how to use F-ing headers and footers in MS Word. Also you don't want to dispatch your chief station engineer from the transmitter site to cubie-ville to replace someone's mouse.

Either you end up with very expensive high end people doing helpdesk work, which doesn't work for long, or you get help desk people trying to do extremely high end work (so, today's tickets for you are replace a mouse, remove virus from secretaries machine, pull some cat-5 into the new conference room, and swap out the fifty kilowatt transmitter tube #3 and neutralize the transmitter, what could possibly go wrong with that workload?)

Also you get prioritization BS like the CEO's computer needs to be rebooted for him, at the same time as you're having a nice transmitter outage.

Why change? (4, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515356)

Frankly engineering sounds like the right place for it. if you create an IT department then you will probably be pushed more under the business unit and that could be really bad.
You will go from "we need this to keep running" to "how will this expense increase profits".
Of course the real reason for this push maybe that the Author wants to move up and become a "department" head.

Re:Why change? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38516016)

Of course the real reason for this push maybe that the Author wants to move up and become a "department" head.

Thats a Bingo. Sounds like the OP is some lame, low-level, over-confident, helpdesk jocky that doesn't like being pushed to the side by the higher payed engineer. I'm guessing that since the engineer knows RF and all that old "analog" radio crap the OP sees him as stupid and old. He's got to be, he doesn't code in C# and have a unstable copy of Windows 8 running at home, right?

I bet he doesn't even have a copy of Skyrim. Fucking dumb old people. Why arn't they just put down at 50.

The only reason I can see to create IT departments (2)

Warren416 (2436238) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515364)

In business areas where IT is a clearly defined discipline, different than what the primary business of the company is, where most, if not all employees have trouble performing their daily details without a clearly defined "IT function" within an organization, IT organizations seem to have sprung up as if they were needed, in all places where they were really needed. That they have not been (until now) clearly and obviously needed in your organization, suggests that the business need is not so clear cut. May I draw some parallels? I have worked in R&D environments around scientists and engineers, who know how to do most of the IT functions that non-technical people wish IT would do for them, and who actively resent some snot-nosed MCSE telling them how good Group Policy and locked-down IT environments are for The Business. May I suggest that what will (sadly) happen in your environment is that a major IT disaster will create the instant perceived need for Standardization and Lockdown. it is only a matter of time. Your most prudent course may be to do nothing extraordinary, but be there and ready with solutions when the actual animal offal hits the actual rotary air-movement apparatus. Warren

Usually IT and engineers battle (5, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515398)

This is weird because being in the telecom biz for 20 years on and off, including working at a place that owned a lot more stations than the Poster owns, traditionally IT and engineering have always run separate networks and always been at each others throats. To the extreme of having two boxes on one desk, one on the eng network and one on the IT network and an air gap between the LANs.

Traditionally the way it seems to play out is the "IT" network is plain vanilla all microsoft centrally controlled and mainly focused on office drone productivity. Meaning the most specialized software IT supports is "Excel". The "IT" network swarms with viruses just often enough to terrify management at any suggestion of merging the IT and production networks (some "humorously" accuse the engineers of creating said crisis intentionally). The large IT network is famous for layer 2 routing loops (I can't believe they shut off spanning tree!) and whats best described as stupid OSPF tricks (like aggregating routes that are not "yours").

The engineering network seems to mostly be linux/unixy with not much central control (probably no lan wide file server, probably no wan wide DNS, believe it or not) although "whatever it takes to make a dollar" does fly so there is the occasional stand alone windows PC, which of course never gets updated because no one in engineering runs windows. Sometimes there is a firewall between the production network and the engineering network, or the eng network sometimes "dials into" the IT net via a VPN connection, but often there is an air gap. The secretary who clicks on every pop-up she sees in MSIE has no ability to access, say, the FM radio ad insertion box, although both are in the same building and have "something" plugged into their ethernet ports. Back in ye olden days I heard stories about salesguys hand carrying flashdrives with radio commercials audio files over to an engineer on the production network, I assume this still goes on.

This is also BAU common practice at ISPs and telcos and cablecos (kind of the same organization now, of course).

Some (some!) plants I've worked at are like this.. The CNC lathes and mills, or maybe the printing presses, and maybe the cad operators and/or preprint department live on one network, and the cubedrones in HR live on another network, and never the two shall meet nor are they maintained and controlled by the same people. Often, in the olden days, they used different technology, like if it was a "plant" the plant network was probably that 100-base-F fiber or whatever it was called and the cubedrones all lived on conventional cat-5 for obvious length limitations and also ground loop issues.

So that's your first job, decide how you'll interface the cubedrones with production/engineering, assuming they'll be interoperable at all, in any means what-so-ever. If you are not familiar with the telecom term/concept "demarc" well then you are in for a big education, thats all I can say.

Re:Usually IT and engineers battle (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515570)

Fascinating post, hope this gets modded up.

Ditto (3, Interesting)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515636)

This is weird because being in the telecom biz for 20 years on and off, including working at a place that owned a lot more stations than the Poster owns, traditionally IT and engineering have always run separate networks and always been at each others throats. To the extreme of having two boxes on one desk, one on the eng network and one on the IT network and an air gap between the LANs.

Likewise - I was in radio broadcasting as an assistant chief engineer for 8 years, and we and IT were always at each other's throats... They had the usual "we're the only ones allowed admin rights" attitude, which interfered with my ability to work on our digital audio workstations and automation systems. Eventually, it blew up, and we severed our networks. Anything that played audio became an "engineering" machine, and they were reduced to tending the email server and machines in the marketing department.

To the original questioner - it's important to bear in mind that, unlike many industries, engineering is a core aspect of the broadcasting business... The justification for having an IT department in a broadcasting company are not the same as with any small business, such as a small accounting firm, retail shop, dentist office, etc., where there's no one with the skills to maintain computers and manage a network. Instead, the justification is that it frees up the engineers to take care of transmitters and studios if they don't have to waste time re-imaging the receptionist's machine after he or she installed a dozen browser toolbars. But IT therefore is a subset of engineering... not a standalone department.

Re:Ditto (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38516052)

Likewise - I was in radio broadcasting as an assistant chief engineer for 8 years, and we and IT were always at each other's throats... They had the usual "we're the only ones allowed admin rights" attitude, which interfered with my ability to work on our digital audio workstations and automation systems. Eventually, it blew up, and we severed our networks. Anything that played audio became an "engineering" machine, and they were reduced to tending the email server and machines in the marketing department.

Ha I bet that was hilarious when the ad insertion machine started skipping and stuttering every 15 minutes when the anti-virus kicked in. Even funnier when the customers started asking their salespeople for credits. I've heard stories like that.

One telecom related anecdote was we rented a windows based box with some exotic software having a high 5 figure per year rental fee and a "you break it you buy it" clause in the contract. A drop in SEC mandated (sort of, anyway) network monitoring appliance. IT wanted to extend their tentacles into the machine "because its windows so we must control and monitor it" and that blew up all the way to CIO level and we won... Just because it's a piece of computer hardware does not mean joe random IT monkey is remotely qualified to mess with the overall system.

The fundamental problem is the IT mentality and the production engineer mentality are simply incompatible because of the difference in dollar loss during downtime and the difference in productivity requirements, to say nothing of expected response time. Also the engineers are systems experts responsible for the whole system, and the IT guys are trained not to care about systems, don't get involved in departmental workflow or business logic, just fix the tools and get out of the way. Finally the specialization is crazy... IT wants every box to be the same to lessen their workload, that just doesn't happen in the engineering world, you do what the service contract says not what the IT guy says. If the six figure annual service contact says turning on SNMPv2 on a production device carrying 7 figures per year of customer traffic will kill thruput and void the service contract, and IT says to turn on SNMPv2 because they have a policy that says only SNMPv2 is allowed now, then IT has to F-off and deal with their loss. IT can apply policies that kill productivity in a non-producing department with impunity, but in a production revenue generating department that attitude does not fly. CEO hears the true story of why they lost 1/4 mil of sales, that IT manager's head is on a platter, whereas its just funny if IT shuts down HR due to a little incident.

Re:Ditto (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38516230)

Oh and another huge difference between IT mentality and engineering mentality:

IT network has like 100 users (windows) and 1 headless box (da server)

eng network has like 5 users (pc in tx building, pc on chief engineers office desk, engineering pc in the studio, maybe a couple other places) and 50 headless boxes (remote monitoring and control of an entire multi-station studio and multi-station transmitter building, extensive environmental monitoring of the transmitter building, remote access to the sound compandor/compressor thingy for audio processing loudness wars, full remote telemetry of the station transmitter, multiple redundant studio to transmitter links with full telemetry, all those modern new-fangled cat-5 to fiber media converters that are now SNMP controllable, SNMP monitoring of the backup generator and UPS, you get the idea)

The ratios are so wildly different that the skillsets just don't match up.

Re:Usually IT and engineers battle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38516180)

My experience of broadcast is that, despite everything running on computers now, the system designs and workflows are completely retarded because there are few broadcast engineers who know much about IT. And this isn't just a local problem. I was once asked to implement a system for handling EPG data based on a draft standard and it was nearly impossible. The standard was being written by broadcast engineers who had absolutely no clue about data modelling and it was full of contradictions.

Of course, the fix for this is not an IT department. It's competent designers and developers in broadcast engineering.

What isn't IT getting now? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38515432)

Questions you have to answer yourself:

* Are the IT needs not being met because the budgeting goals of the department that current IT work falls under are not the budget goals of IT?

* What would be made easier by moving IT to its own department? What is currently obstructed by IT being under another department?

* What benefit will the non-IT folks at your company see from a liberated IT staff? How will you better be able to serve them?

One reason (1)

joss (1346) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515438)

Because people who are supposed to be doing other things (and are probably better at those other things) are having to do IT stuff instead.

Having said that, if I was running the place, I'd outsource it *if* I could find a good *local* outfit that dealt with that stuff.

Use the TSA argument - professionals needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38515448)

Engineers **think** they know computers, but that is a big difference from running IT operations.

"Accidentally" let a virus go inside the network. Watch how the engineers handle it. Perhaps drop a USB key in the parking lot with all the nastiest viruses installed. That will go across your network quickly, assuming MS-Windows and printers are on it.

The video engineers won't know how to prevent this from happening the next time, how to lock down a network, how to lock down computers and servers any more than I do about broadcast video systems. I know storage - high performance storage, backups, disaster recovery, network architecture with different segments for different purposes. I know proxy servers, blocking default route and DNS from end-user computers.

OTOH, does anyone working there have IT operations experience? You could be showing your own lack of knowledge.

Staying up with IT knowledge is a full-time job. I suspect that staying up with broadcast engineering knowledge is a 5 yr thing, not constant.

If you want this to be really effective at making your point, wait until a week before sweeps week and have a few IT professionals ready to help.

I hate to say this, but I know lots of small businesses with 150 people that have an IT department of 1 person and a contractor they bring in as needed - usually 1 day a week for server stuff. At one client, that contractor outsources to my company when they need complex infrastructure or virtualization updates. He knows he is in over his head then. OTOH, he is extremely well versed at running MS-Exchange and some specialized architecture apps that we simply do not have the skills to handle. The IT employee is competent but spends most of his time cleaning up after the CEO screws something or after the "art department" installs some other virus-infected "trial application."

Convincing Stakeholders (2)

lionchild (581331) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515450)

It's been my experience that in order to move people who decide on budget matters, stakeholders who are concerned about money...you have to focus on how your change will improve productivity for others, how it will improve cashflow, how it will make the company more effecient, how you'll make all the other departments able to make more money or report more news, etc.. If you can show that IT as it's own department makes money, or helps everyone else make more money, then it would mean that all the questions about cost go away. If IT doesn't cost them money, if it helps make money, then everything else is much easier to overcome.

Security Standards. (1)

Feyshtey (1523799) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515460)

Ask your boss how many of the engineers understand and effectively implement systems security practices. Ask him if he's cool with Channel12 down the street having a preview of every broadcast before it airs, and not being able to audit accesses to determine where the leak or breach occurred.

Kind of a long shot (2)

weav (158099) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515490)

Depends on the size of the place.

Of course, engineering gets stuck with it at first because < cynical broadcast engineer mode > we are the only ones who can actually deal with physical reality </>... A separate IT department doesn't really start to make a lot of sense until you have radio AND TV who already have separate engineering groups with different takes on IT. CBS in SF has a separate IT group (run by a former radio CE) but that's with like 3 TVs and 4 FMs in the same building.

If your station is the hub for all 5, well, maybe but I think it might be a hard sell to the pointy-hairs / showbiz-money types. Maybe better off re-org'ing engineering with a separate IT subgroup and breaking out its expenses and tasks sepatately for the time being.

Eric
CE, KNGY San Francisco, back in t3h day

500 employees (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515492)

You've got 500 employees sharing data. That's something that needs to be managed. Pitch it simply as focus and efficiency. Moving IT to its own unit allows you to have IT workers focused directly on IT. In the event of a major IT issue, you won't have jack of all trades employees trying to manage several different job roles. You probably don't need a huge department a small number of employees in a central location and one or two in each station.

But also focus on training. The small agile department will allow you to focus IT training and allow the business to take advantage of new technologies more easily. Engineers will learn many things, IT guys will focus on learning things relevant to making IT better in the work place.

Primary justification (2)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515494)

Looks like it's in your summary. Engineering departments are station-centric while IT scope is organization wide. Can you cite cases where local control trumped organizational needs? This is a bit of a tangent, but you might want to look into the history of the USAF splitting from the US Army. Both had many intertwined relationships, but the USAF side saw how being under the auspices of the Army detracted from their own goals and growth. I see a lot of similarities here.

Note, I'm assuming that your problems making your case are a communications reason, and not an issue of looking for personal reasons to sever yourself from your direct managers.

Systems Administrator Myself (1)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515514)

Being in charge of an IT department for a law firm, I can understand your needs. Management doesn't really understand the IT needs of a company, because they don't understand how information flows, or the need for having information available at all times, and keeping that information secure. I've seen small businesses pay some IT person to come in now and then to fix problems, but no one is monitoring their systems, making sure systems are setup properly, and upgrading current infrastructure to keep up with changes. The IT department is there to maintain, upgrade and research the current infrastructure. The benefits of having an IT department will only be realized when you see how much more capable the company is in the next few years.

Money (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515516)

If you want to justify anything to management, the best way is often going to be to relate it back to money. Will creating an IT department save money? Will it help cut some kind of expense? Will it make it easy to bring in revenue? Will it help your revenue grow? Will it allow you to do something more efficiently, requiring fewer people to accomplish the same thing?

There are lots of routes that lead back to money somehow. Improved security might mean protection against lawsuits, meaning less money lost in settlements. Improved employee morale might mean that you can hire and retain better people without increasing salaries. Changing the division of labor might improve efficiency and productivity.

Your engineering dept is your IT dept ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515630)

I think your engineering dept is your IT dept. "Engineering" has many definitions and in the industry/context that you describe your engineering department seems to a support department focusing on technology. It does not seem to be "engineering" in the product/tool development sense. In this sense it makes sense for IT to be a group inside *your* engineering dept.

Not a good move. (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515644)

If you departmentalize IT it will be easier to outsource it.

Broadcasting enigma (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38515662)

I also work in the broadcast field. Our issue with IT is that its business model is aligned with generic IT operations, and not an engineering operation.

What I'd suggest is, if you already haven't, is create clear role groups for the engineering department, one that does "IT stuff". Once you add a separate IT entity into the mix, you'll have much more red tape to get things done.

One case in point. You have an application that requires a PC workstation that interfaces into a video server. This application needs to run on the engineering network. However, because it is a workstation, it is IT's job to configure and maintain. BUT because it needs to run on the engineering network, IT may have issues plugging into that network. If you think that opening a port through a firewall will do, think again. Quite a few server API's assume full-open networks, as all operations should be run on the same network. Neither side really want to create a DMZ system or a bunch of them.

Now you have a network power struggle. The house network, run by IT, and the engineering network, run by the engineers. Trust me when I say this, but the engineers don't want another department controlling their network.

The you have IT questioning why these workstations are not running server OS's, and instead still require XP. These applications are not mainstream, ie: installed by typical consumers. They are specialized, that use rather old API's that don't play well with Vista or 7. There is no reason to change what still works.

That's just the tip of the iceberg. Guidelines need to be written clearly. You'll need to include a good set of engineers, not just the managers, but the front line guys, to work out the edge cases so that the business can still run efficiently. There's nothing like having to install a new system only to have to wait for IT to evaluate the software to come back with a really silly response like the application requires a hardware key that limits the flexibility of running the application.

What are the benefits? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38515670)

You need to break down the status quo and why you feel it does not work well, and what you hope the future end state to be.

Do you currently have broadcast engineers who are pulling double duty doing both IT and broadcast work? Or do you have IT focused individuals mixed in amongst the broadcast engineers? Can you quantify how much time is being spent on IT work vs. other responsibilities? Is having people pull double duty causing them to be ineffective at one or the other tasks?

Typically management will want to have justification in terms of hours being spent and how greater efficiencies can be achieved by changing from the status quo. Or a list of business capabilities that you can provide by changing that you cannot provide effectively now.

In order to gather this information you may need to work with your coworkers to determine just how much time is being spent in different capacities. Note that you may encounter coworkers who are adverse to the change.

Two Column List (1)

Baeowulf (1872730) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515678)

To sort out your own thinking AND create a presentation for the management, you may want to create a simple two-column list. Column 1 = Engineering Responsibilities, then Column 2 = I.T. Responsibilities After you create several drafts you should then ask management what the company priorities are. You should do this BEFORE presenting your list to management. After talking to management, rank your two lists in the order that management cares about. And present everything on one page. There should be no more than 3-5 priority items in each column and you should be able to explain WHY the responsibilities need to be excluded from Engineering.

Reason #1 (1)

certain death (947081) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515680)

The Flux Capacitor needs a Friction Re-lign and IT are the only ones who know where the friction spanner is...and stuff.

This is simple. Yes, even if it's ONE guy. (1)

lexsird (1208192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515718)

If you have a business. IT is cheap. You don't want engineers, people's who's time is infinitely more important than "fixin' the computers", to be fixing the computers. Seriously, you have to be insane not to have an IT person designated at least. I've had small business operations where I was quite capable of doing it myself, but I assigned the business to a friend and associate to handle it.

Why? Time is money. Let's look at it from what one example I have done personally.

Retail: As owner, my best time is interfacing with customers. Customers LOVE having the owner handling their business. It's a personal touch that empowers them and allows me to bring the full blunt of my resources at meeting their wants and needs. If I have my head stuck in a computer, customers feel off put by it. That's the draw back of being charming and charismatic, if you don't put in face time, it can have an opposite reaction. You can become "stuck up" and they will turn negative towards you. They don't shell out volumes of cash at you then. I feel like such a man whore working retail. I digress....

My brilliant friend, who wears that ball cap everywhere, who has bad teeth, and a hen pecking fat wife who calls him every other nanosecond to whine about kids she's too fat to get up and beat properly, needs a job. And is so damn overqualified for fixing my computers and keeping it all running properly that if there is a computer problem, it will be because ninjas from another dimension have gated in, and chopped them up with energy swords, after they beat Chuck's (my friend) ass into the ground. Sans that or something equally fantastic, I know the computer situation will be in good hands.

Chuck works cheap. If he isn't working, he's miserable. My time is worth money, lots of if I am doing my damn job. I can pay Chuck well, and come out ahead because I can deduct what I am paying him from what I make and still be out ahead. This is just thinking about a very small business in means of employee numbers. As you increase the amount of people involved, it becomes exponentially needed in part of the equation of balancing out your employee's time.

If your business is built around computers as vital tools for anything beyond simplistic small business book keeping, you are daft in my opinion for not assigning at least ONE human element to focus on IT.

An IT dept. with its own goals?!? (3, Insightful)

rbrander (73222) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515722)

This already sounds bad to me before it starts. IT departments shouldn't have their own goals any more than the Finance dept. should have their own, or the HR department. All of these are "internal service departments" - they do nothing directly for the corporation, as such, they only do so indirectly by providing internal services to the staff.

You may notice the odd phenomenon already happening in this slashdot topic, of a bunch of IT geeks making fun of, and heaping criticism on, IT departments. That's because internal service departments are almost completely incapable of distinguishing when they are serving the larger corporate need, and just serving themselves.

I have yet to find the IT department that did an honest and humble cost-benefit analysis or risk assessment, one that came up with the conclusion, of, say, (to pick a currently raging topic as an example) "Yeah, allowing people to use Smart Phones at will is going to cause us a lot of pain, but that pain is small compared to the good it will do for everybody else, so I guess we have to suck this one up for the team".

Never.

The whole last 30 years since the PC came in (indeed, one could go back to DEC "minicomputers" and "departmental computing") has been one of steady spread and democratization of IT tools. "IT people" (that would be us, the /. crowd) have jumped on this cultural shift with enthusiasm and indeed evangelism. But IT *departments* have always stood in the way, holding it back, demanding to control it all. They assert the larger good, but never do that cost/benefit figure, never do a post-analysis of productivity "improvements" after they took over something that was not formerly under their control, and cost them quite a lot of money to manage.

So get a security guy if the corporation can afford one and needs one. Get a central IT purchasing and contract-management guy, if that is cost-justified. Get IT-type staff, each as needed. But split them up, don't let them become their own department. Absolutely not one with their own goals.

EE's are not the best IT guy and IT guy don't need (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38515820)

EE's are not the best IT guy and IT guys should not need a min of a EE just to work there.

Broadcast Engineer != Computer Admin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38515870)

I used to work at a software company that interfaced with TV stations. The engineers at TV stations don't know and don't care about computers. They use them, and they know the software that runs on the computers, but they aren't computer guys, in the strictest sense. They don't have much intuition about why computers aren't running properly, and what they want is support contracts so that their computers get fixed. Which is fine, nothing wrong with that.

In case you don't know, TV stations are at the center of a massive shift from tape-based to file-based workflows. With the transition to file-based broadcast systems, a bunch of guys at TV stations have already gotten the axe. All those guys you used to see jamming tapes in and out? All gone. NBCNY at 30 Rock used to have rooms full of guys jamming tapes for upload to feeds, and they have all been fired and replaced by computers and file-based workflows.

The problem with removing IT from the engineering department is that more of your guys in the engineering department are going to get fired. They are going to get some IT guys, and suddenly there is going to be a lot less work for engineering.

This guy probably wants to be able to stop getting calls from the rest of the staff(producers, reporters, advertising, etc) asking why their email isn't working, or why their desktop won't boot. I wouldn't want to hear about those things either.

list gaps, risks, and savings (1)

a2wflc (705508) | more than 2 years ago | (#38515992)

That's what most upper management will make decisions on

gaps - what can't you do now that needs to be done. both capabilities and time to execute may be important

risks - what risks do you face with the current organization? (viruses, lack of auditing for any regulations you need to meet, hardware/software at end-of-life etc)

savings - how much money the business saves with a proposed re-organization. this will require determining the costs of the new IT department. If the cost is $0, just do it today and present the savings - but I'd guess it will take at least your time and probably parts of other peoples' time all the way up to the CEO (reading a new department line-item on reports does take time)

It would be best to present ways to fill the gaps and minimized the risks without a reorg as well. Then let management decide if IT department solution is better than the other solutions.

New departments are not always better. There is overhead of creating budgets which can lead to debates over resources, attention from upper management, and allocating time from other departments (HR, legal, etc) You may just need to better define the mission of your department (e.g. include IT services) and annual/quarterly goals and change individual responsibilities and hiring if needed. I'm in a situation with too many departments. Some minor things require 4 people (team lead level) to approve. When I want to start a new project I have 3 department heads I can go to for funding - they'll all start by asking if one of the others will approve and I may end up needing something from each of them which means extra stakeholders to deal with in the project (which isn't always a bad thing)

There's only one good reason (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38516014)

Unless you can demonstrate that having a separate IT department can save the company money, there are very few sensible reasons (legal requirements may be a sensible reason) for changing a successful organisational set up.

This is just a personnel issue. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38516086)

All people hired should be competent at maintaining their own computer equipment. *HOW SHOCKING*

Should have happened when you were much smaller... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38516136)

I am amazed that a company of your size does not have a separate IT Operations department. The best explanation sometimes is the most simple one. We need to establish an IT department so that our engineers can focus on doing their job. If you are looking for a financial reason, IT employees as a rule make less than developers and engineers. You could pay someone or someones less money to handle everything from changing mouse batteries to monitoring and tuning your network and server health to budgeting. To further conserve on money, you could cycle through interns and provide them with experience while receiving cheap labor and possibly a future permanent employee.

Cost analysis... (1)

bodland (522967) | more than 2 years ago | (#38516140)

Figure out:

how much downtime costs the company

how many of those incidents are due to engineers screwing up servers or databases

which engineers are avoiding engineering work doing IT work

compare labor costs of a IT pro and Engineer

If you can cost justify having six IT pros, couple of OS admins, couple of DBAs and a few tech support persons then it should be a no brainer...companies would rather pay engineers to do engineering work...not setting up PC's or installing and managing databases or patching windows servers....

I think you're insane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38516182)

I would love to be in an IT department which was under engineering -- or even operations -- whatever, as long as it is not under accounting, where it is usually found.

Oh, wait. Perhaps you're a sociopath who feels the need to build his own personal empire.

Been there, done that (2)

Team140 (2541094) | more than 2 years ago | (#38516224)

The parent company wouldn't happen to have the initials NAM and have stations all along the east coast from Maine to Florida, would it? If so, I worked at one of the Florida locations.

Here is one shining (real world) example of why an IT department or one person in charge of IT as a whole is good: 6 TV stations. Some have Active Directory, some do not. Every station does email differently. With different providers. All have VPN to parent company. Parent company installs application on a Terminal Server for all TV stations to access. Said application REQUIRES a valid email account for each employee. Parent company sends a request for email account server details for all employees and requires employees to change their email passwords to first initial, last name, 123 (ie: jdoe123),. Guess what, you just gave Bobby, the new guy in Master Control the local manager's password - oh, and the CEO and President of the parent company's email password! Hell, he's got EVERYONE'S password! Before you ask, no, the user's are NOT allowed to change their password or else it breaks the software running at the head office.

The above scenario would have been EASILY resolved using Active Directory, Domain Trusts and a single copy of Microsoft Exchange. I even offered to do the setting up of this configuration. The users would only need to remember ONE password - the one they log into their computer with. The scenario above ACTUALLY happened and I'm pretty sure - if I wanted to - I could log into and read, anyone's email who works for those TV stations today.

Not all engineers are cut out for making IT shine. Sometimes you really want a dedicated IT person managing things, especially when you grow to multiple locations.

Same boat. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38516256)

When I read this, I thought "I am not alone" the same thing is happening at my company. We are a Radio Station and own other stations in the state. For a period of 4 years there was a quasi separate IT dept. in essence were outsourcing our IT dept., to a company in another city because we couldn't get IT talent to come to our small town, we hire a network admin in house to take care of the day to day. In terms of technology and implementation, this was a great thing for the company, We had a lot of equipment that put us on the cutting edge. saving us a lot on support among other things. They were using things that the engineering dept cannot begin to understand: they don't know software or 'who' TCP/IP is, all they know is restart and see if that fixes it.
Engineering went to the board of directors and convince them that an IT dept is wrong and using Linux, Cisco is bad.......or anything special is bad. so they stop using this company that was our IT department,
Engineering from what I see, tries to hard wire everything they can (I admit it stable and easier to fix) if they can't do that, then they contract and outsource, causing a big expense. but in their view, "I can just make a call and they will fix the problem and I come off as the hero."

But in reading the comments from the other people it makes sense not to split the departments, since at my company there is a natural competition between the two. I agree with one of the comments, maybe uniting the two is a great choice but I would say the leader of that dept should be someone with a Computer Science background, not a Engineer in Electricity certificate, The right person in the right department, At the end we all work for the same company and we should work together.
 

Maybe you don't want it (1)

plover (150551) | more than 2 years ago | (#38516260)

Rather than rush to a separate IT department, try to more narrowly define the problem. I'm guessing you're seeing a difference between keeping the broadcasting equipment up and running; keeping the news, sales, and accounting department's PCs running; and keeping the stations' web sites on line. They're all seen by non-techies as "engineering" functions, so trying to create a distinction between "engineering" and "IT" probably won't go over well with management.

Is there some inherent problem with keeping these people within the same pyramid? It doesn't sound like it, as many stations operate this way. Or are you really tackling a political issue, where the current head of engineering is some old guy who doesn't care about this newfangled web stuff, and you don't think the PC side gets the budget/time/attention you think it deserves?

It's always hard to push management into making top level changes. And if you're trying to fight a battle with Mr. Entrenched by making an end-run around him, you've already lost -- he has had the ears of the owner for years, not you. (And in just about every case, he already sees you coming. It's not good to be seen as the usurper.) Instead of trying to work around him, try working harder with him. Look at creating the subdivisions under the existing engineering organization.

Keep in mind ... (1)

ContextSwitch (727852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38516320)

... that it may sound like a good idea now but when the company goes through a difficult phase working in a separate IT department is like having a bulls-eye on your back. Not only do you have to justify the department now in order to get it you'll have to keep justifying it especially when it'll be seen as on overhead cost because it won't generate any revenue of itself.
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