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Great IT Shops Expand / Collapse
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Posted Wednesday, January 7, 2009 8:57 AM


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I haven't worked for my current employer long enough to know whether it's great or merely good, but it sure looks promising.

The main thing I look for is morale. If morale is high, in both managers and general employees, if people smile and say hello to each other in the hallways, if requests for help are handled cheerfully and competently, and so on, then I think it's a great company. (Of course, it also has to have a business model that actually works, has to produce a high quality product/service for a fair price, etc. That the baseline.)


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Post #631554
Posted Wednesday, January 7, 2009 9:02 AM
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I work for a small (50 people or so) consulting company in upstate NY. I have been here for over 3 years, and our IT "department" recently doubled in size (from 1 to 2). I have over 25 years experience as a software developer, and I would put these people up against any IT department in the world! We get excellent response time for problem resolution and general questions. We are also encouraged to supply input and suggestions for improvement. There is a trust relationship here that I have never experienced at any other company, and I have worked for several companies, both large (Fortune 100) and small (10 employees).
Post #631560
Posted Wednesday, January 7, 2009 9:07 AM


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Reading that article was great affirmation. It reads like they're describing the place I work! Most of the time, anyway.

:P

Mr. Ingevaldson forgot to call out my current favorite hobby horse, though, as number 11: operational maturity of the team that manages production systems.
Post #631572
Posted Wednesday, January 7, 2009 11:54 AM


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In my 15 years in IT and IT-like functions I have worked at both good and not so good shops and I have seen various levels of the implementation of the factors listed in the referenced article. I have to agree with the points made in the article, this is an excellent breakdown of hallmarks of a good IT department. However, as pointed out by other posters, some of these factors can be tricky to implement without causing uproar.

On the one hand, Steve, just relying on the developer to document 'as needed' can be a recipe for disaster, especially in a smaller organization with less functional overlap. No matter the experience level, expectations for deliverables and documentation must be clear. Simply mandating a SDLC methodology and project overview reporting, however, does not make you a good IT department, and if roughly, rudely, and/or inappropriately enforced it can ruin a good team. An inept application of SDLC methodology in a formerly 'loosey goosey' environment can interfere with work productivity and morale.

The implementation of factors such as these must be accompanied by a concise and well reasoned sales effort on the part of management--even and especially within IT. The worst workplace I've been in was one where changes of this sort were being made but they caused confusion and chaos among the participants--both within IT and from the business side. The loss of resources and institutional knowledge as a result was devastating to departmental productivity, not to mention creating political divisions among formerly well attuned teammates.

I was also fortunate enough to work at a large bank in the 90's where I saw successful implementation of several of the mentioned attributes so I've seen it work, as well. So I know it CAN be done in a manner that is healthy both for the company and the people involved. My conclusion is that it's the marketing of the ideas and wholesale buy-in by those affected that make it work, and that comes from the culture of the company and the personnel comprising the department. (It's the people again!) In this case (and in my opinion) the key factor in success was internal development of standards and methodology that sought (and USED) input from the affected people. That is, leadership as opposed to dictatorship.

In my more recent experience consulting for smaller companies I have had a lot more exposure to the level of management that the article addresses, and I really liked the article for the way it separated the factors into definite attributes. I surely will refer back to it when next I am looking to form a long term relationship with a company.



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Post #631742
Posted Wednesday, January 7, 2009 1:00 PM


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I found that this article really reflected a management point of view - as opposed to a programmer point of view. As a manager, what should you implement to make sure that your IT team is able to do its best work possible.

The company that I presently work for is too small to have a CIO, and has too slim of a profit margin to send people to training. It is undoubtably not a great IT shop. But having a CIO would not make it better.

In this article, I don't see how management interfaces with workers. I see facts - there should be a SDLC, there should be a steering committee and a security team. But the thing that makes a really great IT shop ar any shop is not the things/facts/attributes, but the glue that binds them together.

It's the communication between workers and management. The team effort and sharing responsibility and heart-felt congratulations. It's the difference between a leader and a manger. It's the oil that keeps the pistons running smoothly. That's the important stuff.

In the end, it always ends up being all nebulous. Sorry about that.


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Post #631817
Posted Wednesday, January 7, 2009 2:36 PM


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I currently inhabit a high-walled cube in a small group (4) in a small shop (30 - 40) in an insurance company in the midwest US. My group makes my job fantastic as we all have the same work ethic and we all help each other when needed. We don't fraternize outside the office much but we all get along quite well. Our manager doesn't mind 'getting his hands dirty' because he makes a point of learning what we do and he gets involved bit not too much! Plus, there is no finger pointing here and thankfully our manager buffers us from the politics.
But, our culture here in the user areas is pretty antiquated and somewhat old-fashioned. Lots of realtives work here (yikes!) and management styles are, well, archaic. Lots of micro managing, disrespectful bantering and the like between the user areas. Hopefully, a new CEO coming in a year will amend some of this.
The worst IT shop had to be at either a municipal city office (no budget and old technology) or at a large HMO support office that didn't know how to plan and everyone treated each other horribly (it consisted of a lot of NE transplants to the south - not a good outcome).
I once worked at a small software company in this same building and it was great as they had 1) a panoramic view of downtown 2) free snacks 3) great owners and co-workers and 4) free in-house MS training. Alas, 9/11 ended all that.
Post #631913
Posted Thursday, January 8, 2009 9:16 AM


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communication with management needs to be there, but for the most part, management needs to let workers do work. Get the stuff out of the way that bothers them and slows them down.






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Post #632524
Posted Thursday, January 8, 2009 9:24 AM


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What???? Managers as facilitators and not dictators?
Steve, that's blasphemy.


Mia

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Post #632540
Posted Friday, January 9, 2009 4:04 PM


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I am lucky at my current position, we hit 9.5 out of 10.

The only partial exception is #3 because Vista "presents no compelling reason for us to upgrade", Office 2007 "presents no compelling reason for us to upgrade", and SQL 2008 is too new.
Post #633977
Posted Friday, January 9, 2009 6:33 PM


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WILLIAM MITCHELL (1/9/2009)
I am lucky at my current position, we hit 9.5 out of 10.

The only partial exception is #3 because Vista stinks, Office 2007 stinks, and SQL 2008 is too new.


I don't mind Vista, like Office 2007, and probably should have chosen 2008 when I had the opportunity to choose 2005 or 2008.




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