I trained my replacement this week. It’s a good time to reflect on what I’ve learned in this job, as I didn’t get much help or formal training. The guy who trained me when I started was concerned I was his replacement. He ended up leaving anyway.
Automate your common processes
Having the starter/leaver process done by someone else’s script freed up a lot of time and mental energy for me. I think in the new job, once they are patched up and working better, I will start to automate as much as I can.
IT gets boring
Not boring in terms of filling out spreadsheets. At some point you stop learning new things in your job and get restless. I’d been here 9 months and got bored. Because we had most user processes documented, they were confident enough to do it themselves. Administrative tasks we tried to automate. Some days we got less than 5 tickets. I feel to some extent I worked myself out of a job.
At this stage in my career i.e. the very start of it, I have to be proactive about moving on. This place will have a lot of challenges, but hopefully I won’t be as constrained. At the same time, it’s easy to look for quick fixes that become kludgy permanent solutions, so I was grateful to have the oversight of our contracting team’s lead.
Be in the management loop
IT occupies a strange place in the hierarchy of a company. It’s a fundamental part of both the business infrastructure and how it serves customers. Though the IT manager/partner did not keep me up to speed, it did give me insight on how crucial having people’s confidence was. How the need for changes should come from users. How essential it was for users to buy into any changes IT made.
My goal in the new job is save money by making the infrastructure more reliable. They had a major outage the week of my first interview because they’d been cheaping out. Speaking to the MD about what outage that cost them per minute impressed them and got me the job, I think. Going forward, I’ll be glad to use my business degree and finance experience. I love data and I love metrics. So understanding that element of their business, and getting them to commit to upgrades would be a big career win for me. If they don’t commit to it:
Make it someone else’s problem
You could work 60 hour weeks and kill yourself with stress, ending up a bald, 300lb bitter wreck trying to manage everything. We frequently get blamed for management failures, and ultimately put our time and our relationships on the line to fix those failures. But no one’s ever going to care about IT. At the end of the day, you’re replaceable. I think how to avoid getting burned out is making it someone else’s problem: hire external contractors with SLAs.
We had two junior people leave in the last three months, and they weren’t replaced. So they tried to put pressure on me to work unpaid overtime and cover another city like 70 miles away. But I was glad I refused, and made sure I got it in writing the terms of the potential paid overtime. Being firm made them back off, and it made leaving on good terms much easier, as I wasn’t pissed off.
Actually going to miss that place – they gave me a bottle of wine and a nice send off yesterday -I think if I was an employee and not a contractor I would have stayed.