This editorial was originally published on May 23, 2012. It is being re-run as Steve is out of town.
As someone that works with Information Technology, I usually work on applications designed to make work easier. For example, we have accounting systems that ease the handling of debits and credits, they detect mistakes in data entry, and in general require less people to handle the accounting needs of many firms. Do we have less accountants?
I suppose we might have less, but it seems that the finance departments, handling AP and AR in many companies is as large as I remember from my younger days. Perhaps the department is smaller than it might otherwise be, but it's usually not small.
In IT, we have all kinds of tools available to us that can help with our jobs. What's more, we can create new tools as needed to do our jobs. Powershell or Perl scripting, Codeplex projects, and more are available to most of us to help us better manage systems. In SQL Server, we even have a built in framework, Policy Based Management, that helps us prevent changes or problematic configurations. If you find a third party tool that can help, you can make a case for its purchase, using the time savings translated to actual costs. One of those tools might really make your job more enjoyable..
In theory, we ought to be able to manage many more systems per person than we used to. Does that many that we need less people? Perhaps, but it seems we grow systems fast enough that we still need to hire more staff in many environments.
I so often see people working in IT fail to take advantage of all the tools we have to automate much of their jobs. They often tell me if they automate too much of their jobs, they won't be needed and may get let go. Personally I think that's an excuse not to exercise your skills, challenge your mind, and get rid of tedious work There's no shortage of work to be done in most companies. If that's true, why not use your tools to get rid of the tedious work and spend your time on something more interesting?