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What Would You Demand From Your IT Department?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the minimum-level-of-service dept.

671

ZombieLine asks: "The IT department at my company (approximately some 500 people) is showing signs of incompetence, and has been ignoring knowledgeable user input for about a year. Additionally, they haven't been able to sell needed changes to senior management. Unacceptable server down time, maxed network storage, and no backups systems have hit the bottom line, and those on top are starting to notice. We users are staging a revolt to make IT more responsive to users by creating a group from the company divisions and IT to discuss needs and solutions. What would you put in our charter?" What services and responsibilities would you demand out of your IT department?

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671 comments

What would you demand from your IT users? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912563)

ZombieMime asks: "The non-IT employees at my company (approximately some 5,000,000,000 people) are showing signs of incompetence, and have been ignoring knowledgeable technology input for about a year. Additionally, they haven't been able to accept needed changes to senior management. Unacceptable computer usage, maxed bandwidth usage, and no common sense have hit the bottom line, and those on top are starting to notice. We geeks are staging a revolt to make users more responsable to IT by creating a group from the company divisions to discuss needs and solutions. What would you put in our meeting room to kill as many people as possible?"

Re:What would you demand from your IT users? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912680)

Pet peeves:

Not enough storage. When 200GB drives are under $150 maybe it's time to stop complaining at the people who dare to keep a meg of on line messages.

As the masturbation you have not seen how busy a competent IT technician is. It's the ones that people know they can't turn to with problems who have time on their hands.

Re:What would you demand from your IT users? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912704)

Pet Peeves:

Users who think the network drives are for their personal music, picture and video collections.

I Demand LARTs! (2, Funny)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912791)

LART conservation has drastically reduced the effectiveness of my comany's IT staff. I demand more LARTs!

Re:What would you demand from your IT users? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912713)

That's funny. My pet peeve, as an IT guy, is people that don't understand why we don't spend $150 and get a bigger hard drive, because they don't know how to store their mail locally.

Re:What would you demand from your IT users? (3, Interesting)

a55mnky (602203) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912722)

Your ignorance of what is involved in supporting IT is showing.

Although the cost of the drives may have come down, there are other costs associated with adding another drive - that additional 1 meg of on line messages multiplied by X numbers of users needs to be monitored, maintained, backed up and made redundant ... and of course restored when somebody mistakenly deletes the wrong message.

Re:What would you demand from your IT users? (2, Informative)

Sinus0idal (546109) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912764)

Indeed, I was going to say, I'd like the poster to show me a decent 200gb SCSI drive for $150. In fact, it would need to be in a RAID, so make that 2 or 3 200gb SCSI drives for $150.

Re:What would you demand from your IT users? (1, Troll)

bobcat7677 (561727) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912844)

I like anyone to show me a 200gb SCSI drive for any price. The only SCSI drives I have seen recently jumped right from 146GB to 300GB flavors.

Re:What would you demand from your IT users? (5, Insightful)

shaitand (626655) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912790)

"you have not seen how busy a competent IT technician is"

A competent IT technician has just enough time on his hands to learn new technology and retain sanity. A competent IT technician does not give users access to anything that could cause unpredictable consequences and makes sure that the systems they do have access to don't have problems in the first place.

An IT guy who is constantly running from place to place is the result of one (or more) of three things.

1. An understaffed department. Your IT guy is not working the floor in a retail outlet, if he's on his feet or crawled under a desk most of the day you need more IT guys.

2. An imcompetent IT guy (or IT decision maker causing IT guys to perform IT tasks incompetently). When IT is done properly there are not fires everywhere to put out.

3. Incompetent users. Incompetent users are the types who keep the IT guys busy fixing phantom problems, doing user training, or bug them with water cooler talk that fails to recognize that IT guys don't like people or talk. Your IT guy does not care to tell you about the cell phone or digital camera on the market.

Re:What would you demand from your IT users? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912742)

Fuck you.

From the non-tech perspective (4, Insightful)

Dukeofshadows (607689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912761)

As a non-technical person with enough engineering friends to get to this site and have an iota of what might be reasonable to expect from IT professionals, here's my list of expectations:

-Security of data: obviously no data is *absolutely* secure if the computer is connected to the net, but enough security that I could feasibly work with medical records and HIPPA-privledged information without constantly worrying about crackers. For those of you who don't know what HIPPA is, imagine a very protective law about patient confidentiality that can result in serious jail time if it is violated.

-Continual access (within reason): If there are natural disasters, power outages, or personal emergencies, then certainly one can't reasonably expect 24-hr access. At almost any other time, however, I'd like to be able to turn a computer on at the workplace and not worry about downtime or have to call someone to fix the system (as my colleagues and I do now).

-Work ethic: Nothing pisses me off more than lazy people, especially those who try to use technobabble to hide incompetence. If there is work to be done, then I'd like to dial up the local expert/employee and know that the problem will be fixed *quickly* and efficiently. Certainly there will be problems that require more time than others and nothing runs smoothly all the time, but no one should have to brook crap from employees who pad schedules. If there are problems, say so and at least *try* to explain them, don't go into geekspeak/technical language in hopes that I don't understand and give up and let them go back to (insert game here).

-Keeping me informed of new tech without trying to be a salesman: Not every new upgrade is worth getting and keeping up with the Joneses can be prohibitively expensive. Sure, new tech is very cool and I'd like a wireless device to use around my office to tie labs/patient data together, but that doesn't mean it's worth constantly annoying the boss for tech upgrades

-Honesty: Don't overcharge me or bend/stretch/break the truth with me. Medical professionals *seem* to be a prime target for fleecing among computer folks and I've heard horror stories about people paying several times market rate for upgrade and basic tech services. If you work for me, please be honest about all systems or equipment. If I've made a poor decision and there's new data, say so. If there's a better program/hardware setup out there and I'm not familiar with it or am being blindsided by the saleswoman, make mention of it. I don't have the time or patience to micromanage, if your job is technical material than I rely on your expertise and expect to be able to trust you and your decisions.

That shouldn't be too much to ask and is what I will expect of any technical employees I'd hire once I graduate and get a practice up and running a few years from now.

Re:From the non-tech perspective (4, Insightful)

GuyverDH (232921) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912859)

- Security: How much of that data gets into hard copy that end-users leave lying around their cubicles, or is displayed on screen when users get up and walk away from their desks without *locking* their systems. How many people *share* userids and passwords so that they can login as each other *just in case* they forget their own passwords, or someone else can do their work for them.
Security is a two edged sword... To increase security - you the end user get the following. All traffic is encrypted. All fields that display sensitive information are invisible, unless you move the mouse pointer over it, and click (hold the click to see the info). All screen savers are locked on blank screen (no user customizable fancy dancy screen savers) - and set at 1 Minute, maximum - no user ability to change / reset this. All user systems have USB disabled, no cdrom drive, no floppy drive. All passwords must be a minimum of 8 characters long, have at least 2 numerics, 2 symbols, 2 capital letters and 2 lower case letters. Zero repeat characters, and no character can be used in the same position more than once in 16 months. Passwords must be reset every 28 days - no exceptions. All users must pass basic computer literacy / ability tests. You fail the test, you're fired. Internet access is restricted to Intranet and *approved* work related internet sites. Usage is monitored, and reviewed by supervisors monthly. Users must face the entrance to their work environment, with their monitors facing away from the entrance. Spot checks will be done to see if anyone has passwords written down, if they do - they're shit-canned. Anyone caught sharing / using someone else's password is fired - no questions asked. Supervisors caught logged in as one of their employees are also shit-canned. Supervisors have the ability to review their people's work, without logging in as the user.
- Continual access - Users get as much access as the business areas are willing to provide. IE - Continuous access costs money. Get the IT areas the money, they will get you the access. Clustered servers with snap-shot capable databases / filesystems are not cheap. Nor are the test servers needed to allow for full regression testing of each patch / update for every system in the office. All of these things must be provided for to get you your *full time access*.
- Work Ethic - Nothing *PISSES* me off more than lazy end users who say "can't you just?" or
"quick question" - especially when I've already answered the question 15 times previously. Nothing is ever as *simple* as you think it is. With today's systems that are interconnected at levels previously not even dreamed of - taking that simple table offline so you can *refresh* the data, causes 13 other business areas to sit idle until that data is made available again.
- Keeping you informed - While not every new technology is great, there are sooo many new technologies that *could* make your life easier, if only you could get over this *fear of change* you seem to have. Change is good - without it, we'd all be dead.
-Honesty: I've never stretched the truth, nor have I overcharged. However, the reverse is also true - don't ask questions like - "Honestly now, isn't it *physically* possible to do x/y/z?" Even when it's physically possible to do something you want, doesn't mean it's the right / correct / intelligent thing to do. Since it's our job to be technical, and *know* these things, let us do our jobs - without butting in with your inane prattling.
Remember - as a computer analyst, we are expected to be right 100% of the time, and aren't allowed to *experiment*. As a doctor, you are expected to be right 100% of the time - however, with computers if the *patient* dies - nothing but information is lost.

Re:What would you demand from your IT users? (2, Funny)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912769)

What would you put in our meeting room to kill as many people as possible?

That depends. Is death by roundhouse kick acceptable?

Re:What would you demand from your IT users? (1)

insanehomelesguy (929505) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912784)

What I want is users who sit right next to eachother (ALL 5 OF THEM) to not all call me about the same problem. I heard from the last 3 that were having a problem and I am already working on it. STFU!

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from personal anecdotal experience (4, Interesting)

yagu (721525) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912572)

Your company may have IT problems if any of the following has happened recently:

  • your company has right-sized the work force (could cause loss of corporate memory since right-sizing is usually code for age discrimination
  • decided to become a [insert technology here] shop by executive fiat with no input from IT staff (could de-moralize IT staff, they're not going to care much if their input isn't being counted)
  • changed the review process (more de-moralization -- they're (reviews) usually not changed in a positive way)
  • eliminated bonuses
  • implemented mandatory overtime (I've experienced this many times -- it's the best way to instill attitude in an IT organization)
  • gotten a new CEO soon to loot your company and run (I experienced this... once I experienced a half million loss in options and 401K it was hard to like what my company had become when the CEO walked away with $500M)
  • frozen pension benefits (ditto)
  • cut back on medical coverages (ditto)
  • implemented a required "certification" process for IT staff (gag)

There are many more -- these are just a few I've experienced that exclaimed "improved [insert your favorite trait/characteristic here]" and had mostly the opposite and unexpected (to decision makers) results.

(btw, your "500" count is listed after the mention of your company, it's not clear if you're talking about a company of 500 employees or a company for which it's IT segment comprises 500 employees...)

Was IT outsourced to EDS? (2, Informative)

argoff (142580) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912744)

At one company I worked for, upper level managment (bypassing everybody behind the scenes) got into a very expensive long term IT outsourcing contract with EDS that required them to take over all IT opperations. (kickbacks anyone?)

Anyhow, what happened was that once EDS was locked in, they went off and hired a bunch of hamburger flippers and called them "Senor IT insert_speciality_here". While the existing IT staff tried their best to train them, the results were rather predictable. I've herd EDS has dome something similar in a bunch of big government contracts too.

I've had friends in Europe claim that EDS are very respectable and professional experts, so perhaps there is something different in the US. But here, I was really unimpressed.

Your company may be totally average if... (2, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912779)

Your company may be totally average if those things happened to you. Pensions? Bonuses? Health Insurance? I think you're living in the 1980's. What you're describing is completely normal these days. I don't think that it is indicative of anything at all, actually.

No.. the answer lies within his dilemma (2)

beacher (82033) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912805)

"Additionally, they haven't been able to sell needed changes to senior management."

Answers:

  • Put senior management on the same file server and the downtrodden masses
  • Put senior management on the same switch as the masses
  • Put senior management on the same proxy server as the masses
When senior management feels the pain, they're likely to release the thumbscrews if they can. If they still don't respond, then you've identified your bottleneck.

-B

Question from the 21st century: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912845)

What do "401k", "pension benefits", and "medical coverges" mean?

ITIL (5, Informative)

Wanker (17907) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912582)

The UK-based ITIL initiative describes in gory detail a collection of best practices that IT can follow to provide better service to their customers. They can do as much or as little of the whole program as they want, and it can even be driven from the outside by the user community if absolutely necessary. Obviously, if there's cooperation it works better, but if they roll their eyes at "another total quality management initiative" (which it's not) you can still use the terminology and methods and eventually drag them into it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_Technolog y_Infrastructure_Library [wikipedia.org]
http://www.itil.co.uk/ [itil.co.uk]

Re:ITIL (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912694)

I have to post this one as AC, sorry.

The UK-based ITIL initiative describes in gory detail a collection of best practices that IT can follow to provide better service to their customers. They can do as much or as little of the whole program as they want, and it can even be driven from the outside by the user community if absolutely necessary. Obviously, if there's cooperation it works better, but if they roll their eyes at "another total quality management initiative" (which it's not) you can still use the terminology and methods and eventually drag them into it.

The company I work for decided to "implement" ITIL about five years ago. It has improved nothing, and has essentially just served as a different set of buzzwords for managers to use.

What it reminds me of is an article I read about the US military and its "transformational" thing a few years ago. Everyone and their mother was scrambling to claim that their pet project was a great example of a "transformational" weapon, even though they changed nothing about it.

Have you thought about... (4, Interesting)

tekiegreg (674773) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912583)

Outsourcing to someone else?

Seriously, if you're going to have a department of lazy, inefficient slugs, you might as well have them for cheaper :-)

In addition, the very threat might make your IT department shape up real quick...nothing like the threat of losing your job to light a fire under your butt and get working.

By the way raymondsimms@hotmail.com I'd be careful using fullnames around stuff like that. An IT guy at your company is probably checking the company database right now for names that match that...prepare for the vengeance of an IT Guy.

Re:Have you thought about... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912747)

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Nickname: raymondsimms
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What's the moral of the story?
Don't use your regular e-address when posting to slashdot.

Re:Have you thought about... (4, Funny)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912758)

Ooh! Good idea. I'll check for him tomorrow when I get in to work.

First thing to demand - an SLA (4, Insightful)

Olmy's Jart (156233) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912594)

You need to map out your requirements and then formulate them into an SLA, a Service Level Agreement. Then get your management to agree to it and take it to the barganing table. Make it clear that this is what they (the IT department) will be measured and evaluated against. If they can't agree to it, then get them to counterproposal. But, what ever you do, get it in writing in the form of an SLA, with the bosses on board... The particulars about what services and what responses and what responsibilities you want from them are details that go into the SLA. Once you hash out the details, get them locked into that SLA, though...

Re:First thing to demand - an SLA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912796)

Find the incompetent VP in charge of IT. Check their finances: where does the hardware go, where's the audit, and what have they been bringing home without putting a tag on it or "decommissioning" to ship to friends. Get their secretary in on the act: every incompetent IT manager I've ever met has a secretary who takes the brunt of the grief.

Then send it to www.fuckedcompany.com from a very, very anonymous account, along with the logs of the porn they download in worktime.

And no, I'm only slightly kidding. Actually publicly embarassing a bad manager is much faster than any internal political struggle to change their behavior.

Common Occurence (1)

hoojus (935220) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912597)

I have noted that this seems to be happening more often. Our IT department has been downsized and now it is almost impossible to get assistance so we have taken all our servers away from the university and kept them in our Computer Science School. We also contact them simultaneously to when we start fixing the problem and then post to senior managment how long they took after we had fixed the problem ourselves. Unfortunately it has introduced more downsizing as we have been shown to not require them at all. So what should really be done to ensure good service? Showing them to be incompentent doesnt work and neither does doing it yourself... but when you don't then you can't get any work done.

Re:Common Occurence (2, Insightful)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912716)

Our IT department has been downsized and now it is almost impossible to get assistance

O RLY?

Maybe this should have been a wake-up call to the bozos with pointy hair that they actually NEEDED all the headcount that used to be on payroll.

Re:Common Occurence (1)

Geekbot (641878) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912760)

Suits need to see money. Don't show them the time you saved. Give them an invoice for the resources it cost for you to fix the problem. Make it clear what you didn't get done because 1) there was a problem 2) you had to spend time fixing it yourself.

"Showing incompetence"?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912598)

Well, the first thing I might demand would be *competence*... Everything else is gravey.

Sure are a lot of Ask Slashdot's today.

Install new software or die (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912599)

Rupert Murdoch has spoken.

3 easy steps (2, Funny)

dark404 (714846) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912603)

Step 1: Find a Bofh
Step 2: Unleash the bofh into the IT department
Step 3: Rightly cower in fear and reverence of the new effective (and renamed!) Network & Systems department.

Re:3 easy steps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912624)

Or throw a SOX Auditor their way, and watch them drown in red tape!

Re:3 easy steps (1)

remembertomorrow (959064) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912643)

Yes, the optimal IT dept. consists of 3 people: The BOFH The PFY and The Boss. Although, The Boss' only purpose is to serve as the fall guy. He is also easily replaced.

knowledgeable user input?? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912604)

What do you consider knowledgeable user input?
In most user communities you see divisions that ignore the entire enterprise and base their knowledgeable input on what will most help them, but maybe dosen't work in the enterprise, or adversely affects other divisions.
This situation fits 90% of input from the users, and makes it hard for an IT department to isolate what is actually valuable input.

Re:knowledgeable user input?? (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912718)

"But the boss wants pink cables..."

Re:knowledgeable user input?? (1)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912777)

"But the boss wants pink cables..."

The fool! The boss should know that data moves more quickly through blue cables!

The IT Crowd (1)

PatTheGreat (956344) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912614)

I personally think that the whole company revolting against the IT department would make a hilarious "The IT Crowd" episode.

Keep IT Simple (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912615)

I would demand less users.

$2 Million, and a parachute! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912617)

Those are my demands!

What are we starting with? (5, Insightful)

Conception (212279) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912621)

"Unacceptable server down time, maxed network storage, and no backups systems have hit the bottom line, and those on top are starting to notice."

I don't know your situation... but maybe more money is needed for people, equipment, etc etc. You can demand all you want, but if you don't pony up the resources... *shrugs* You get what you pay for.

Re:What are we starting with? (2, Informative)

Geekbot (641878) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912789)

You can say that again. IT doesn't make money, they save money. The suits in power see that the IT department can be run cheaper with only x staff and x resources. Those that aren't getting their needs met need to be vocal and clear about the cost to the company, in both downtime and morale, when the system just doesn't work.

Re:What are we starting with? (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912871)

Then get them to save money by throwing out the Siebel trouble ticket system and replacing it with Bugzilla or something else usable. Siebel is the single worst drain of IT time I have ever seen: it generate lots of "statistics" that are fundamentally fraudulent and used to justify wasting time doing the Siebel tickets badly instead of actually fixing anything.

I'm not kidding. I've watched two distinct companies decide to use Siebel and nearly halve their IT productivity per person from its various failures. The only way to make it work efficiently is to pull the data for it directly from the Oracle back-end and put it in a usable web interface for viewing, and use the Siebel interface if necessary to input new requests.

performance criteria, & resources to meet them (2, Interesting)

Engineer Andy (761400) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912629)

set down what is reasonable in terms of expectations (not more than "x" minutes of downtime during business hours every "y" weeks, scheduled downtime compared to unscheduled downtime. I would have thought that data storage would be part of your record keeping requirements for your Quality management system, just as the system should spell out how you should be filing your correspondence, verifying your work, and all the other mundane bits of Quality in a business

I think that if your IT team have been beaten into submission by a tight-fisted upper management, they may well know that things are not as they should be, but know that no matter how hard they push, upper managemtn wont do anything until it becomes a crisis. More of a sense of resignation, and coping from day to day rather than implementing the best practise they know that they should have

my old office had a server die and take down all the files for a day or so during business hours due to a faulty power supply. no hot swappable power supply on that server. They were continually running out of server space for files (not due to massive mp3 libraries sitting on the server either), which seemed mad to an end user who just wanted to know that things would be able to be saved.

They also had two email gateway servers (i'm not in IT so i may be using jargon incorrectly) and periodically one would fall over, and every other email would fall into a black hole, with no bounceback or indication your email wasn't lost. It got so bad that i would phone people when critical emails were coming through so i could be sure that they were receieved.

the firm I am with right now has a really good internal help desk system which quickly answers user queries, and the system is set up so well that you become oblivious as to the system because you can just get down to doing your work rather than worrying about how stable things are.

A piece of the action (2, Funny)

DysenteryInTheRanks (902824) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912630)

What would you put in our charter?

Incompetence? Check.

Ignoring front-line workers? Check.

Stretching resources until savings are overwhlemed by resulting inefficiencies? Check.

Don't complain -- your company sounds like it's ready to go public!

If you're writing a charter (cute!), just be sure to ask for some preferred stock options or a pre-IPO allocation from the underwriter. If you don't know what those are, just ask the IT department, they are clearly up to speed.

Not on tech, of course. More important stuff!

Masturbation. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912637)

It's a moral imperative for IT workers to masturbate in the server room while perusing freebie porn. What else are they going to do the other seven hours and twenty minutes out of the day?

Process Documents! (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912647)

Their responsibilites must be clearly enumerated. Moreover, everyone most know what those responsiblities are. The process document allows you to complain to their manager if service is not acceptable, but it also gives them ammunition to justify additional funding or resources. When you have a process document, the problem shifts from "IT are a bunch if mindless jerks who suck" to "Why didn't IT deliver adequate support" which often leads to answers like "Well we have 2 guys serving 500 users and in any week 20% of the user base requires and hour's worth of hand holding."

A smaller company might be able to get away with flailing around in the dark, but as you grow your business needs to become more structured. It's easy for 5 guys to know what the company needs to do and how they fit into the big picture. It's much more difficult for 500 to do so.

A good way to do this is a process wiki. Just get your IT guys to set up a... oh... wait...

I know the answer, I know the ANSWER!! (0, Troll)

3seas (184403) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912657)

Do you own work, or get replaced.

Do I win, Do I win? Huh? Huh?

If not then how about:

Hey, IT person, aren't you like takin this job security a bit to far?

Now do I win? Huh, Do I, Huh?

Ok how about....Give the IT department the money they need to upgrade the hardware and software.
And talke away their free soda's if they don't.

Well? Do I win now?

Hmmm, damn if I do, damned if I don't...

Ah, their I go... I win....

The bosses have noticed? (1)

Saxophonist (937341) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912660)

If those at the top have actually noticed a problem, and they know that the IT department is to blame, I can't imagine that you (as users) will have to do anything. I'm pretty sure they will take care of it, though not in a way friendly to the IT staff.

Probably, you'll be looking at a department totally torn down and replaced by something, which may or may not be better. Maybe try to get some input on what that new structure is.

'ave you tried turning it on and off again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912664)

Or possibly just going down there and talking to them face to face?

No Brainer (5, Insightful)

moehoward (668736) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912665)

This is beyond a no-brainer. I actually doubt the authenticity of the story based on how the real world works. Or maybe the poster is really in a 25 person company or something.

Anyway, here is how it works. Your department has IT needs. These needs are written down. The IT department has guaranteed services it provides. These are written down. Your department takes a budget "hit" to pay for an internal IT department. These are the givens.

Now, if IT does not provide services you NEED/REQUIRE (like backup, duh), then you go to the whomever is above both departments (COO, VP of division, president...) and you show the mismatch. This is not a complaint, just a reason why you are increasing your budget next year to get the services you need to succeed.

Of course, you are keeping a log of all incidents that are occurring and a log of down time and a log of costs to you as a result, etc.

Look, business people are not idiots. The 3 previous paragraphs I write above are beyond no-brainers. Why is this stuff so non-obvious to today's geeks??

Re:No Brainer (1)

onemorehour (162028) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912727)

If I had mod points, I would mod the parent up Informative. This was my first reaction to reading the article, as well. It's not as if the problems complained about by the poster can't be written down and shown on paper.

Re:No Brainer (1)

baggins2002 (654972) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912835)

I believe your right. This doesn't sound like a 500 person organization, more like a 25 maybe 100 person organization.
If it's a large company they may get all huffy and find themselves in some deep shit. I've seen it before where groups of people bitch and complain and nobody ever tells the IT department. Then they get Senior Management involved, who then finds out than none of their needs or issues were communicated to the IT Department. Senior Management usually gets cheerfull when they find themselves in the middle of an immature pissing contest and they really love it when a number of people organize and get all riled up over something like this.
The whole tone of this story sounds off for a large organization.

Demand what every organization needs... (1)

canning (228134) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912667)

A magic wand.

Of course you could also demand three wishes, and if this is the case might I suggest using your first wish wishing for unlimited wishes.

Get on this quick because trust me, your IT department is planning similar action.

if you run a 24 hour operation, IT must also be (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912669)

and that means response while you're trying to get something done, not maybe someday. pager burps on the hour or on milestones with a contact number in case something goes critical suffice IMHO.

and forced reboots in a 24 hour operation must not be pushed out of the dayside's visibility to plague the second and third shifts work. there have to be two or three push-and-boot cycles, or IT deserves horrible fates.

we have had growing issues with getting choked-up servers and processes worked on, partly due to downsizing, partly due to offshoring. with thousands of paying customer stuck outta luck when this happens, it ought to be a primary concern for our operation. it does not seem to be.

that sort of thing ought to be run right up the flagpole to a VP. but you have to have metrics for them to pay any attention, or CEO escalations by multi-million-dollar accounts, or that sort of thing. metrics are safer and cheaper. draw them up with user input so they really mean something to the needs of the business, not just bullet points on a whiteboard next tuesday, and pretty colored dust on the carpet tuesday night.

What exactly do you want from them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912671)

You need to come up with a list of exactly what it is you'd like from them. I don't mean a set of demands, either. You have to be reasonable. Beyond that, go out and do their jobs yourselves, hopefully just temporarily.

It's one thing to point out "unacceptable server down time", but that in itself is likely a useless thing to do. What you could suggest, for instance, is possible solutions. If the downtime is caused by the network being run on Windows, suggest a transition to a *nix platform.

If storage is a problem, then go out and contact reps from various vendors to get some quotes. Again, if you think you can do the job better than the current IT department, go ahead and do it. Present your findings to the management. If you are indeed more competent, and can provide economically-feasible alternatives, you'll get what you want, while simultaneously giving a kick in the ass to the IT dept.

A bigger LCD screen (like an Apple Cinema Display) (1)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912672)

And an iPod video for watching important, work-related tutorials.

It sounds like your company has other issues... (4, Insightful)

mrscott (548097) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912674)

It sounds like your company has other issues beyond an unresponsive IT department. You indicated that IT has been unable to sell necessary changes to senior management. Are you positive that senior management agrees that changes are needed or that they actually understand the seriousness of the problem? You might find that IT feels that their hands have been tied and have nowhere else to go since senior management isn't helping them.

A group of users making "demands" of the IT department is somewhat inappropriate. Yes, the IT department exists to help users with their work, but their priorities are set by senior management. If you plan to create some kind of IT Steering Committee, I would recommend a few things: (1) Lose the attitude -- all you'll do is put the IT folks on the defensive (and remember, since you're not in their group, you may actually have NO idea what priorities have been laid out for them by senior management); (2) Get the blessing of senior management before you try this; (3) Make sure at least one or two high-level people attend your meetings and buy-in to what you talk about.

Treat the IT folks like human beings. They may have perfectly good reasons for dismissing what you consider reasonable ideas. Perhaps they're seriously understaffed so that great desktop Linux rollout one of your users is convinced is the right idea just doesn't pay off for them, for example.

Re:It sounds like your company has other issues... (1)

ficken (807392) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912767)

I agree. The CIO of your company is not doing his job. If he were, he would be motivating (or hiring!) people to do the job at hand. Never, ever treat your IT dept like crap. If they are worth their salt, they can do very bad things (like adding your email address to pr0n mailing lists and unencrypt the network traffic and capture it cuz chances are you use the same passwd for everything).

Re:It sounds like your company has other issues... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912783)

Treat the IT folks like human beings.

That needs be repeated over and over. A lot of the other posts on here are all about "get them to sign on the dotted line and then play gotcha after they don't meet every single goal" Yeah that's a healthy relationship.

A better way to approach this is to ask what the IT department would like to do that would help the company out. More often than not you'll get back a response of "well if we just had a budget for training on Windows / linux we wouldn't have to do so many reboots" Or "If we just had a real backup server we wouldn't taken down the system at 10AM to do a backup"

Hopefully the people in the IT department are professionals and will know what needs to get done for the betterment of all. They're probably frustrated too with the work environment -- its not like IT people are trolls that just want to reboot people's machines right before an important meeting. (well most aren't)

What do us IT workers demand? (1)

Marthisdil (606679) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912681)

Non-stupid users. If we tell you not to do something, don't do it. Clicking on something that says "improve your email with smileys!" after we have uninstalled Smiley Central a bajillion times is unacceptable.

Soon as users start taking some responsibility for their own actions, then I'll listen/ Luckily at my company, I have the authority to write employees up for mis-use of corporate technology...so if I get sick and tired of your ass clicking everything, I'll write your ass up. Three times? see ya!

Not enough info (1)

toadlife (301863) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912682)

"Additionally, they haven't been able to sell needed changes to senior management. Unacceptable server down time, maxed network storage, and no backups systems have hit the bottom line, and those on top are starting to notice"

It sounds like your IT department is not properly funded, and/or possibly undermanned.

How many bodies does the IT department consist of? Is it one guy, or twenty? How many computers and other systems do the IT dept handle? It's hard to tell you what to expect with so little info.

Lame followup to 5funny the hard way. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912684)

I want G5s for everyone, cron jobs for the coffeepot, and backup T1s so that my mp3 collection grows uninterrupted.

Also, please incarcerate the cartoon badgers, replant the aspen, and strap keyloggers to the hedgehogs, 'cause they've begun to warty me. Worry me. Whatever.

This may be Senior Managements Fault (5, Insightful)

baggins2002 (654972) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912686)

--No Backup Systems
--No Storage Space
These sound like budget issues. Do you think that if the IT staff, just tries really hard or is competent that they can just create File Storage and Backup Systems out of thin air.

A user revolt? Good luck! (2, Interesting)

winkydink (650484) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912688)

"but when you go carrying pictures opf Chariman Mao, you ain't gonna make it with anyone, anyhow."

Do you think you workin some kind of democracy? End users, have no budgets and as such, little influence.

Also, all of the issue you describe are operations and not applications-related. Unfortunately, if the PHBs are getting what they want from the apps (reports, closing the books, sales info, etc...), then nobody will give two cents abouyt bad ops.

The people you need to convince about your issues are executive management in your departments. If you succeed in doing that and enough of them talk to the CEO, there's a good chance that the CIO will be asked to come up with a plan to turn things around. If not, then either you and your compatriots did a poor job of making yoru case, or executive management is happy with the status quo. If that's the case, and you're really fed up with it, your only recourse may be to look for a new job.

Re:A user revolt? Good luck! (1)

megarich (773968) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912771)

I work for a small private company with only 2 1/2 IT people (the other guy only spends half his time on IT and half on other projects) for 100+ people and 100+ machines and servers. I wish the users would revolt more. They have more power than what I do and we desperately need at the very least one more guy.

I do know what my only option is but its still sad the ceo can't see the value of IT, he only looks at it in terms of cost burden.

wait... (4, Funny)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912692)

I AM the IT department, you insensitive clod!

Re:wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912853)

Personally, I welcome our new Unwashed End User overlords.

First order of business.. (1)

TheOldSchooler (850678) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912696)

Extra cup-holders for all desktops!

Centralized IT is the problem... (2, Insightful)

javabandit (464204) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912700)

Completely centralized IT should die a paintful death. I'm not sure where this concept of having to centralize all IT functions... but it seems totally idiotic to me.

If I manage a group of 40 people, I should be able to hire an IT person to service my 40 people. Their salary should come out of my budget. My IT person should have to adhere to corporate architectural guidelines. But this IT person should report to me and be accountable to me.

Internal corporate IT SLAs are a joke. If an SLA is violated, it turns into nothing but a moronic yelling match complete with finger-pointing, et cetera. Meanwhile... the end-user still suffers.

Down with centralied IT, I say. Put IT staff inside of each business function. Make them accountable to that business group/function... where it belongs.

Re:Centralized IT is the problem... (2, Insightful)

Ykant (318168) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912765)

The day centralized IT goes away is the day the departmental pissing matches come back full force, with the "computer guys" stuck in the middle again. Leave IT management to those best suited to it - good managers with skills in the field. You want one person assigned to your department? Fine - but let their boss, the one who sees the overall scheme, handle it. Your way would have 22 different guys working all on top of each other, vying for redundant resources.

Centralized Can Work (2, Insightful)

raftpeople (844215) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912842)

I agree SLA's are worthless, for a variety of reasons.

However, I disagree that centralized IT should die. I have spent much time in my professional career undoing the nightmare of islands of systems where information is stored in multiple places (and only one is current), the same data value is stored differently (different customer numbers, item numbers, etc.). Attempting to reconcile differences in procedures, bring info together after the fact, etc. etc. is time consuming and error prone.

I can see having dedicated resources as long as the enterprise architecture is coordinated and reasonably centralized.

show me the money (1)

alen (225700) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912710)

users are always demanding most storage to store their MP3's and vacation pictures. And they want new servers, but their departments aren't willing to pay for it. If you want something, talk to your own department management and have them pay for your projects

Management? What management? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912721)

If things have degraded to the point you describe, I suspect you have incompetent management, both in the business divisions and IT. If neither management group is in sufficient touch with their organizations to see these problems, then they are likely the "root cause". They are the problem you need to "fix".

Sounds like Yahoo (1)

Jack9 (11421) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912723)

Anyone who works there knows, this article sounds a lot like @yahoo.com

My IT Department (1)

spiderrice (960964) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912733)

100% Uptime for Backup Systems.
97%+ Server uptime during working hours.
Sufficent Storage, and procedures in place to keep it stuctured in an acceptable manner.
90%+ of helpdesk calls resolved that day
Upgrades to core network and organisational wide systems when required.

Re:My IT Department (1)

kmassare (113285) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912822)

>97%+ Server uptime during working hours.

Personnally I think that 62+ hours/year of server down time during work hours is a little excessive.

Re:My IT Department (1)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912864)

Only 97% uptime? That's 14 minutes of downtime per 8 hours. Is that acceptable?

Fire the Managers (1)

MPHellwig (847067) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912734)

Any manager who manages to neglect the signs of sure disaster needs to be fired.
Sounds harsh but managers don't get payed their cut for "dangerous" work conditions.

Blogger.com? (1)

Un-Thesis (700342) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912738)

Your company wouldn't be Blogger.com would it? At least, all those things and more have happened to it since it was bought out by Google.

Get your own IT (1)

Adumbration (912697) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912739)


At my company, we have decentralized IT to a large extent such that each group has the resources they need.

This kind of organizational structure has worked out quite well. For example when our DBAs were in a centralized group, the DBs were often abused, and the DBAs didn't get much sleep. Now that the DBAs are in each group that uses the DBs, they can more effectively educate the users and keep things under better control.

Additionally, software engineers now work more closely with the business stake holders, and there's more effective communication: the engineers better understand what the business folks want, and the business folks better understand why what they want is not always easy to deliver.

From the IT side... (1)

big_debacle (413628) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912749)

I find it interesting how often non-IT employees are critical of IT. In my experience, it tends to be a user (or users) who have mastered MS Access, created their own cool app and have determined that IT doesn't know it's head from a hole in the ground. We don't need pesky things like documentation, change management, proper design and architecture, data security, etc.--those things just slow us down!

Generally speaking, it seems that the many of the users complaining about IT tend to be part of the root cause of the problems.

Further, it's somewhat annoying how often non-IT people are perfectly willing to explain to IT what is wrong with their organization. However, if the shoe were on the other foot, would it be acceptable for the IT guy to explain why the accounting team doesn't know what they're doing?

Stick to what you know. Do it well. Let the other guy worry about what he knows best.

Technically Savvy - but business DUMB ? (2, Interesting)

Bartzo1 (836080) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912780)

There seems to be more people out there who know a lot about technology but don't know jack about running a business. There is less people out there - who can convince the management (and rightly so) that spending $$$ pays off in the long run. Can you put a $$$ on the missing files because you didn't have a the proper backup strategy in place ? down time of the servers and the amounts of people who are sitting around and looking at the ceiling because their email and phone system are not working ? $$$ it would cost to recreate the work of a team which spent 3 months on it ? ) People in a company like that - cannot just create a "Committee" to see that changes happen - it just doesn't work - policies like that need to come down from the top. It only shows that either the people who are the heads of such departments are not speaking the right language to the top or are just plain LAZY (Incompetent, inefficient ...etc)- or the top (lower top) is refusing to listen - because they want to look like they are doing a good job by keeping the costs down - I've seen both. In either case - you need to start from the bottom and work your way up. Approach the IT Manager, and present him with your findings, ask him to take it up - if no result - take it a step over him - As a last resort approach your CTO/CIO or (CEO if you have to) with realistic numbers on the amounts of time lost due to server outages - multiply it by the number of employees affected and then by their hourly wage - $$ starts to add up...especially if you have ridiculous downtime rates... But I bet you - somewhere along your trip UP someone will start to listen. But get the numbers first...and get some "weight" behind you - get managers and directors of other departments to back you up on this...Even have them present this UP to the VP's.. etc.

My IT Department (1)

Sawopox (18730) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912781)

I actually work for a public school. I would like to see adoption of F/OSS software (wouldn't we all?) OR adoption of commerical solutions that don't break.

I can't even begin to list the number of new IBM p4s w/ win2k on them here at my school that simply don't work because ??? (although kids can do some damage to anything, simple use should not render a machine inoperable due to software weaknesses).

I'd like more bandwidth too. I'd like better training of school staff so they can in turn teach the kids. Typing sklls would be nice too.

Being able to play WoW during planning would be nice too...

User error (1)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912792)

This person sounds just like the person where I work where when an internal app crashes, she fires off 10 angry e-mails, won't follow steps to troubleshoot it with repeated "I already did that" protestations, Then e-mails back with "Bob the magnificent fixed it".

It wasn't the app, it was her freaking customized browser settings.

But of course, it's the IT's fault. Because like, She really isn't a corporate suckup bimbo who maintains her job not by competance, but by gossip, intrigue, and florishes of Drama Queen explosions..

Attit00d... (2, Insightful)

HermanAB (661181) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912801)

First, I think you have to read a little booklet by Dale Carnegie: "How to make friends and influence people".

Making demands and staging revolts is only going to get *you* fired. It won't resolve any of the technical problems.

What to demand? An assurance. That's it. (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912809)

What to demand is simple. This would be to guarantee that my actions on the PCs can never be traced. Sometimes, I want to do my stuff on company time, but fear that my activity could be monitored!

The other thing to demand would be to allow me attach my [K]ubuntu desktop onto the company network, and use it instead of what is currently available.

Who the hell is in charge? (2, Insightful)

TrappedByMyself (861094) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912811)

It's simple. Lazy people are in charge. The whole committee/suggestion bullshit will do nothing, because in the end lazy people will still be in charge. One thing I've found is that no amount of processes will make up for someone who doesn't want to work.

Gather your allies and information. Details about what is wrong, why it's bad for the company, and how to fix it. Demand an audience with whoever is the highest person in the company you can meet with, and lay it all out. To be brutally honest, someone needs to be fired over this. Make this suggestion. Don't necessarily pick who, but make it clear that the people running IT aren't getting the job done. People outside the IT department shouldn't have to draft the job requirements of the IT department. If they know what they're doing, they'll know what to do.

If you can't get upper management to take action, then either suck it up and deal with it, or leave.

More info from original poster (2, Informative)

ZombieLine (817840) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912812)

Some more information about our company. We are a company that has gone from 3 employees to 500 total in about 30 years. The current president founded the company, does not understand technology, same with most vice-presidents around him. The divisions in the company are run pretty much like separate companies, but IT comes out of every budget.

The CIO attempts to fix by bringing current problems by e.g. we're running at 95% of network storage, and we don't have backup email server if the power goes out (twice last month) to the board meeting. The vice-presidents who don't understand the technology or the implications say no to the cost without understanding the impact.

Me and other users would like to coordinate with IT so that before they go to the president and ask for money that they come through us so they can get the support from the us as well. But the other issue that we have is that they will roll out "upgrades" without coordinating first.

CIO - We're going to Office 2003, here is the upgrade schedule, it's been blessed by the President

US - We have customers that require Access 2000, and converting them back and forth is a good way to crash them

CIO - We're locking down the computers effective today so you can't install anything.

US - We create executables for distribution, we can't test on our machines.

Granted these problems can be worked out, but its better to do it in advance. How would you create the hooks so the IT staff is responsible to user requests, but still remains the clearinghouse for technology?

BTW - None of yagu's potential problems are here, no layoffs, bene's are great, and most people are generally happy. Senior IT management isn't that technical, but that's for another day.

IT services (1)

convolvatron (176505) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912814)

I've been through this before, several times.

expect grossly inflated estimates for work items, accompanied by demands for increases in IT staff and budget

expect negoitated work items to be put aside for other more 'critical' needs and delayed indefinately

expect to need several passes to justify what needs to be done, as IT declares them imposible. the 'security' flag will be thrown at every step

you have entered the realm of company politics

The first thing to do... (2, Insightful)

GJSchaller (198865) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912824)

...is to determine WHY the IT Team is having issues. It may not be the rank-and-file techies that support you, or even the Sys Amdins that handle the network, but something else higher up in the food chain, or even external to IT (i.e. - budget) that is causing the issue.

It is far more useful to have an ally in any person or group, than to make an enemy of them.

We had an issue at a past job where we got a new manager who happened to work from a remote site. He laid down mandates that were ludicrous in nature, including to stop stocking extra hardware. Mouse broke? Put in a P.O. for a new one, get it approved, order it, and wait for it to come in. User can't work? Too bad, not enough money in the new budget to have all that extra stuff we don't actively use, and wasted storage space. The kicker is that he also blocked complaints about this pratice, from both within IT and from the users, from getting above his level. It took an end-run around him from frustrated users and IT staff to get a VP to notice. (Why did he do this? Our guess was to save an assload of cash, look good, then pass the problems on to his sucessor when he got promoted.)

Before you say "The IT Team is not serving our needs," make an effort to find out why there is an issue. Ask one of the techs what's up. I'm sure you would not want someone saying your entire department (including you) was performing unsatisfactorily due to reasons you have no control over.

Obviously (1)

jonathan_the_ninja (704301) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912833)

since I work there, I would demand a raise! $6.50 an hour just isn't enough....

Why the PC was invented.. (0, Redundant)

deacon (40533) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912837)

What you are describing is what IT was like in the mainframe world years ago. IT lost sight of the fact that they existed to serve the needs of users, and instead became convinced that IT would tell users how those users were going to do their jobs.

The PC was created exactly to get out from under the ossified IT Priesthood, and return power to the users. The wheel has now turned full circle, and todays IT regularly shows complete contempt for the users in a company who actually do work that brings in revenue. In this way they are very similar to government employees, except that at the moment most of them do not have a union.

The problem today is that there is no new "personal computer" on the horizon that will let workers just do their work without the "We Are Gods" attitude that many in IT bring to work with them every day.

I look forward to the flambe mod that I will recieve from those unable to accept any criticism of the Ivory Tower. The rest of the posts in this thread modded +5 which drip condescention at the "stoopid" users will prove me right. IT thinks that it exists to serve itself. The fact is that few companies sell IT as a final product. In most companies IT is just like the guy who services the milling center and turning center - important, but not in charge.

Smells like Budget issues (1)

lordperditor (648289) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912841)

I have seen this scenario in many companies before and it is usually budget issues. Don't beat up on the IT staff they are probably doing all they can with the resources they have and if you annoy them too much they are not going to be too keen to help you any further than they absolutely have to.

Accountability and Visability (1)

fak3r (917687) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912847)

First of all, accountability; having a person take on a task and be responsible for it, seeing it through and doing what they say they'll do. If they can't do it for whatever reason, present those reasons to you end users. Visability; get out of the office, walk around and talk to the end users, what kind of day to day problems are they having? Allot of times their frustration can be allieviated just by helping them figure out something minor; something they likely wouldn't have sub'd a ticket for. Plus when they need help it's easier to help ppl you have a repore with. Anyway, worked for me when I was a tech some 9 yrs back.

I am my own IT department. I demand... (1)

CFD339 (795926) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912848)

...a f***** day off every once in a while. :-)

I wouldn't demand anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14912849)

I'd just round up some old boxes and lash them together with a bunch of open-source software and set up stuff the way I want. Don't waste time negotiating SLAs and buy-in. Consensus sucks.

What would I demand? (1)

EraseEraseMe (167638) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912857)

Polite employees who don't talk down to the users in that "OH, you should understand this, it's so stupidly simple" tone. You don't understand Marketing, I don't understand Computers (Although I do probably more than they do)

More than once have I had to mediate a dispute between the IT department and the rest of the office because of their lack of communication and personal skills. An IT Ombudsman might not necessarily be a bad idea, someone who can talk tech but also talk business; but also just talk normal. The IT department works for the business, not the other way around.

Your statements contradict themselves (1)

Karmic Debt (772032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14912870)

Statement #1 - They haven't been able to sell needed changes to senior management
Statement #2 - Those on top are starting to notice

When performance and availability reach the horrible levels that you describe, even a child could articulate the changes needed to upper management. So which is it? Is upper management taking notice or just ignoring your IT staff?
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