When times are tough …

“When times are tough IT gets beaten hard” –Rolf von Roessing

When times are hard IT is the first to take the heat. Budget cuts, “rightsizing” (which always equals downsizing) and a mandate to do more with less is in order. And let us not forget outsourcing which of course costs less, provided there is still someone there, the key person, to inform the outsourcer and interface with the rest of the organization. Most likely that person jumped away upon seeing the iceberg and not after the hit.

So what do we get after this? We get a lower budget for the next year (hence a success!), poorly documented systems for which there is no one around to ask details about (and guess when will you need this tiny bit of missing detail) and systems that must continue to operate with large portions of them unpatched, unmaintained and halted not following the normal upgrade path of their cycle. This operations nightmare can easily become a security one too.

And what about training your staff? Training is spending and thus cut. After all, staff is supposed to freely dig the Net and find out appropriate answers. For that is the best it will get, answers, not training. No one will stop staff being trained on their personal time and budget, but not on company time. “What if we train them and they leave?”. Is that sensible? How about not training them and see how far they can go.

Management avoids errors of commission by making errors of omission that have hidden costs which appear further in time, in most unexpected circumstances and of course at a time when the responsible one for the chain of events has left the helm. But then again management stays less time in office than those who foresee such errors and easily silences them in an uneven power game.

All that is left are the system administrators, developers and security guys still on board trying to clean up the mess. Sometimes you have to spend your way up, but almost always management interprets this like a supernova: They keep absorbing amounts of energy (budget) trying to keep doing their thing avoiding evolution (organized abandonment) like dinosaurs. I used to dislike Rand’s advice about when to jump ship, but he is certainly correct.

One thought on “When times are tough …

  1. Jumping ship right now means you have to swim. There’s no ship to jump to.

    OTOH, living in a sloppy, messy environment is now the normal. CEO thinks he knows better (ergo you are an idiot) and messes with your work, fucking things up, CTO pulls the company to an entirely different direction (mixing hobby with profession), the sales manager has peaks of enlightenment here and there (playing solitaire the rest of his time), absolutely nothing is documented, project management is missing, marketing thinks all they have to do is finish the web site and everybody is pissed with anybody. Of course, this does not happen overnight, it’s just how things have been going on for a decade.

    Generalising this pattern into a much broader scope and adding a bucket of cleptocracy (countrywide) explains just how we ended up here.

    Try and clean this shit! No way man. You have to start from scratch. Now, we all know this is impossible, that’s why I believe the solution is imported. Preferably German. Just look at Spain (I was at Barcelona last week).

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