IT managment for dummies?
July 12, 2009 10:30 AM   Subscribe

Help turn a great IT sysadmin into a great IT manager.

I have a ton of experience with IT systems and networking in mid-sized companies. Now I'm setting up / upgrading a small shop single-handedly (~50 users) that was thrown together by outside consultants.

The technical tab-A into slot-B with servers and firewalls I understand. But I'm having some trouble adjusting my (tier 3, plan and manage, take it slow zero downtime mindset) to my new helpdesk, contract management, data center AC & Power design, paperwork/oversight duties. Add explaining it all to non-technical management staff where I have earnest discussions over why we can't simply overnight a router with a DS3 line from somewhere or why we should buy PC's from a vendor and not grab whatever's on sale at bestbuy.

Has anyone else made this transition? Any good resources for the newly managerial? What helped you? Tips tricks, templates all appreciated. The ITIL stuff looks interesting but seems too abstracted to be useful tomorrow morning.
posted by anti social order to Work & Money (5 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
the visible ops handbook from itpi.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:34 AM on July 12, 2009

Requesting clarification: are you doing all those things you mentioned yourself, or are you the manager of a team that will do all those things? I suspect from your use of the phrase "single-handedly" that it's the former.
posted by FishBike at 11:50 AM on July 12, 2009

The concept you're looking for when you're talking to management is "lowest total cost of ownership."

Buying computers from a single vendor gives you total lowest cost of ownership because it reduces the amount of time necessary for the business to manage it's warranty and service issues, the number of 'base install' disks that they need, and exponentially reduces the amount of troubleshooting steps when diagnosing a problem. It's like buying a used ten year old car: Of course it goes just as fast and the starting price is cheaper for the same features, but the maintenance costs will eat you alive over two to three years.

You need to manage your department for total lowest cost, and you need to be able to show numbers (financially) for the up-front and likely two-three year costs in various categories. The field is called "management accounting", and if you check a university with a good business school's bookstore or online, you should be able to find a cheap textbook that you can skim for the mental steps your non-technical management staff is taking.
posted by SpecialK at 11:55 AM on July 12, 2009

The Gartner Group has done a number of 'TCO' studies of corporate desktops. The initial capital cost typically ends up being ~30% of the total cost of ownership. The initial cost is inversely relational to the other costs. You can forget many aspects of TCO in a small (<1>
When I can push out 75 new workstations in 8 hours for a client (including unboxing and setup -- Dell Optiplex machines that we have a standard ghost image for) vs 3 hours each (unbox, install software, configure for user) for machines from Staples...

$400 * 75*3 = 90k installed cost
$1000 * 75 * 0.1 = 75k installed cost

Now factor in the cost to maintain that. If they Staples machines, I need to figure out what kind of harddrive it takes (SATA? IDE?) -- find a CD to reinstall Windows ...

If it is an optiplex, we have a few extras on hand, and the ghost image can be pushed out in 10 minutes.

Repair cost for a failed HD on a Staples machine might be 4 hours + $100 hd, and take 2 days. ($500 total cost).

Repair cost for a failed HD in an Optiplex = 30 minutes, $50 hd we had on stock, and back up in 1 hour. ($100 total cost)
posted by SirStan at 2:29 PM on July 12, 2009

Best answer: You may want to check out Practice of System and Network Administration it's a boring beast of a book, but it covers everything, and give you ways to think and explain things.
posted by tomben at 6:00 PM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

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