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Are IT departments always a 6th leg?

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    This really applies to those who don't work for a technology company.


    The 2 firms I have worked for haven't been pure technology companies, and despite IT being one of the major backbones they always seem to treat it like it's a 6th leg of a 4 leg table (because legal or someone is always the 5th leg).

    As a CIO, Manager, developer or anything to do with IT, what do you do to encourage your company to talk about IT playing a serious part and becoming that 4th leg instead of the 3rd cousin twice removed?  Or am I the only person to feel like this?


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    Maddus Mattus

    Problem is that IT doesn't generate money, directly. It's usualy the business (1st leg) that generates income, and the old dutch saying goes; "Who pays, plays".

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    The IT departments I have worked in have been money spinners, the first firms moreso.  Without the IT department in the first company, the company would of been dead in the water.

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    depending on the business there can be many things like departmental politics going on.

    also managers sometimes find out how some it staff have wasted money and that makes managers not want to give them more money.

    example:  i work with some guys who do IT for small to mid sized businesses one client who hired them found that when the full time it guys were let go that they had a room full of stuff that was supposed to be broke and was never fixed, 3/4 of it was repaired in a couple of weeks and the business was saved the cost of buying several desktops and laptops.

    so they saved money directly from less expensive contract IT services AND recovering equipment that the paid full time staff hid in closets and drawers.

    also often in large companies you can get more done faster by not going to the centeral IT

    I have been a contractor for a deparment where they had developed a custom system that did what they needed and they did it with a tiny budget. the author of the software was a manager in that depatment. they only needed me at the time cause the manager passed away.

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    @Jaz:Depends on the size of the company and the aforementioned main revenue stream.

    In general Developers are network admins  (local) on their machines whilst nobody else in the company is, and I have never gone to an IT person or network admin to ask then to fix something.

    It is always seen as the 6th leg if you are the person they go to if the printer does not work, or they need you to give permissions on a folder to a new user. Most people have printers and families that they apply porn filters on so most people think they know IT, including the people in Legal.

    I have seen network admins that treat Legal/QA/HR like rubbish, and take ages to fix stuff, and their almost always are seen as the 4th leg

  • User profile image

    @Jaz: I encourage my staff to be more proactive as opposed to reactive to users. Although at times this can actually be less constructive than having them sat in the back working on there tasks or improving the network, they are seen and therefore perceived to be working on something more important to the rest of the company. 

    It's as much visualization as communication from what I heave learnt. 

    I also request I have a senior IT member attend meetings that occur between departments. Simply so we are more aware of what the business is planning, even at a high level or concept as ultimately, we are going to have to facilitate supporting whatever it is they are doing. 

    It's when we are in the rear with the gear saving a dying server or buggy application that we are actually perceived as doing the least. Yet we are working small miracles each and every day... 

    We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done.
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    @CaRDiaK:It's no different in software. Add a few new windows or pages to an application and people jump up and down thinking that a lot of work has been done. Take a week refining an abstuse algorithm, making it work faster and more correct, and people look at you as if you have been watching utube on your pc instead of working

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    @Jaz: Yes.

    IT is the knowledgable internal service provider to the rest of the company.  They work for the other departments.  Not the other way around.

    This isnt' to devalue IT as IT's value is derived from an internal understanding of the company and it's competitive advantages that an outsider can not be privy too.  Without this internal knowledge the company could very well land on a future business path that isn't compatible with the technology needed to remain more competitive than their competitors.

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    It can be frustrating when, as an IT person, you are denied technical input to a project that would benefit the Company you work for, simply because the business requirements don't allow for it and/or the business don't understand the potential benefit.  (Yes, part of your job is to explain that benefit but you don't always get that opportunity and if you do it can be like pushing a rock up a hill backwards). 

    This is the time to go for a Starbucks and think about the Kinect SDK.

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    Where I work IT has a lot of historical baggage to deal with. The IT managers and employees of the past were the stereotypical surly and unresponsive types.

    Recent (in the last 5 years) changes in IT leadership has resulted in a much more responsive and proactive organization. However, there is a lot of bad blood with other departments, and it's a slow uphill battle.

    Part of the problem is that we aren't funded from the general budget. We work off of a chargeback system. That causes departments to be leery of asking for anything, and they tend to come to the table already in an adversarial frame of mind.

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    It's ALL about the money. "We just want a website"... "We just want Intarnetz"... IT doesn't bring the cash... just fix it and go away in your dark room.

    The reason is simple... the leader staff are clueless and don't give a frell.

  • User profile image

    It depends on the IT department. Some IT departments get in the way more than they help.

  • User profile image

    @Bass: Indeed. IT folks can be just as guilty of resisting change as they accuse their users of being.

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