Dave Tainer Director, Information Systems, GMHC April 25, 2008. How to Build, Maintain and Motivate an IT Staff. What is IT in Today’s Business Environment?. Compliance & Security HIPAA, PCI, SOX Mission Orientation Business alignment Data Integration Business intelligence/SOA
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Dave Tainer Director, Information Systems, GMHC April 25, 2008 How to Build, Maintain and Motivate anIT Staff
What is IT in Today’s Business Environment? • Compliance & Security • HIPAA, PCI, SOX • Mission Orientation • Business alignment • Data Integration • Business intelligence/SOA • “Customer” Service • tech support to staff
Your Organization has a mission ─ what’s yours? • Should be aligned with the core mission, but specific to what IT does for the agency • Staff needs to be aligned to strategy;this needs to be communicated to staffers so they know not just what you expect, but what Executive Management expects
Creating your Mission • You need to decide what you want your department to do, and build it from there. • Is what you do mostly tech support? If so, hire mostly “people-persons” who will have a lot of interaction with staff. • Is your department going to provide mostly applications? Then get application developers mostly, and only one or two “people-persons” to do training, support and maintenance. • Strategy, connectivity, and social networking where you want to go?Go 50/50 between introverts and extroverts, and people who communicate very well with the written word. • What is your company’s business?
Getting the right people • You want Enthusiasm, as much as that is possible • When interviewing, see what activities the prospects like to do • On the job • How they like to work • Level of curiosity about how things work
You want hires . . . • who build and rebuild their home PCs • who are trying to eke out every last bit of performance for their video gaming experience • who try different OS just for the fun of it or to learn it • who maintain a home network and “enjoy” working with Active Directory and LDAP • a full home “testing” environment for checking the effects of upgrades, etc. • device “hackers” or DIYers • (not actual hackers!) • Handheld Linux • Handheld Apps • Handheld DBs • Who like to test new software/hardware and test their limits
Finding your second-in-command • Title is initially immaterial, but this person should grow into the Assistant IS Director, with potential to take over your job • What he or she does (specifically) is initially immaterial, provided that they know enough about the overall workings of IT and are customer service-oriented • This is the person that is the face of the department when you are gone
Size of Organization and Staff • Good rule of thumb: a ratio of one 1 IT staffer to 25 total employees • Borne out in studies: www.workforce.com(login required) • Although it does vary by size of organization and, again, by mission • You develop the functions that are most critical to your organization
Developing for your organization • It’s all about the corporate mission and the departmental mission • COBIT will definitely shed some light on the best practices to follow in determining your needs (PO7 in COBIT 4.0) • I’m a big fan of COBIT; there is much useful (and much necessary) information in there • www.isaca.org(login required to download)
Cross-training staff • Certain needs MUST be met • Server/Active Directory Specialist • Network Programming Specialist (Cisco/etc.) • Tech support • Data/Integration • Compliance (for some) • Particularly in today’s market • With today’s small staffs, essential for vacations • This also helps with motivation • By providing cross-training, you are developing staffers with more skills/flexibility; making them more valuable to you and potential employers
Performing a Cost-Benefit Analysis • Define all the elements you need, what you’ll derive from each position and the resulting cost • If your needs tend toward support, you might be better off with less experience but more numbers • If your needs tend more toward business alignment, then experience becomes much more valuable • If you need both, and you need it quick, then you need to go with experience all down the line, and you’ll need to be able to show this to management • Risk Assessment is the way to do this, rather than trying to scare management • Business people tend to respond better when you use their tools to make your point • This is why the cost-benefit, or ROI, is so important • In the final analysis, if you build and maintain properly, all roads will point to business alignment in time…
Case Studies • My agency’s needs when I started • Technical Support was a huge issue • Old equipment: servers, switches, printers, and workstations, which broke down very frequently • Many level 1 and 2 issues, mostly to do with networking, servers, and applications crashing or acting erratically • Old and inappropriate network infrastructure • Not enough staff to maintain all of this • Technologically unsophisticated workforce, generally • We have two needs requiring programmers: application development and data pulls from enterprise data • The final element is a dedicated staff of DBAs as well as an assistant for the “profit center” of our agency: Development and Fundraising!
GMHC, Jan. 2006(200 staff + volunteers, additional 25-40 internal nodes for community partners)
Case Studies • My agency’s needs today • Application Support was a huge issue • Mostly level 1 issues, though some Level 2 • A lot of phone and networking needs due to VoIP and dual-redundant architecture • Still not enough staff to maintain, but MUCH better • Still Technologically unsophisticated workforce • Building Social Networking/Collaboration capability(with SharePoint) • Transitioned my best tech to work on that and to tutor the greenest tech • Greater needs requiring programmers • Due to an added research component that was added in the last year: application development and data pulls from enterprise data • The final element is a dedicated staff of DBA and assistant to one important department for our agency: Development and Fundraising!
GMHC, Jan. 2008(250 staff + volunteers, additional 50-75 internal nodes for community partners)
PEO Case Studies • Quick note about Professional Employer Organizations, an industry in which I used to consult • How they work • How they make money • How they’re set up
PEO Case Studies • PEO Case Study 1 • Main Emphasis is on network • WAN • LAN • Speed and redundancy of data entry from external locations • 24/7 operation • Second Emphasis is on Compliance & security • Dealing with people’s payroll • Third Emphasis is Real-Time receivables • The final important element is for the insurance side, but real-time is not a priority
PEO Case Study One(200 internal staff, approximately 250 external satellites)
PEO Case Studies • PEO Case Study 2 • Takes the same basic emphasis, but updates it for the upcoming new elements • This would be the third-year plan, where 1 was the first-year plan, and this was based on the projection of business expansion in years 1 and 3 • In a new plan, or fifth-year plan, I might add another Director or at least AD position for Virtual Servers
PEO Case Study One(250 internal staff, approximately 500 external satellites)
The Right Tools • Nothing is more frustrating than not being properly equipped to do the job. • Not only is this a best practice, but it keeps your staff from downloading tools from the Internet that might not exactly meet licensing requirements or be fully tested in your network/computing environment.
The Right Tools • Everyone’s business is slightly different, so there’s not a true one-size-fits-all list of this software, but at its most universal should include: • Anti-Malware detect & removal tools • DeFrag tools • Hard Disk Repair tools, including UnErasers and Boot Sector explorers • Ghosting tools • Network/Cable analyzers (simple ones) • Physical tools (screwsets with every possible kind of head for all different PC cases) • Extra HDs for RAIDs • Various spare parts for quick fixes • USB/FireWire/eSATA external drives and USB keys on hand
Support Your Staff ─ Management Level • Spend time getting to know the needs of the department directors and their staff • You want to be able to bring them solutions to their problems • Explain to your staff the value of aligning to these micro-strategies • IT Department contributes to business unit… • …Brings in added value to the enterprise • …Add profit • …Announce goal achieved with IT department’s input • …IT department stature raised • …More dollars flow into IT • …More respect and expection for IT to do the same in other business units • This is one of the most important ways in changing the idea that IT is more than just “the cable TV repairman”: groundswell and alignment
Support Your Staff ─ Management Level • A good IT leader doesn’t emphasize scare tactics to get IT budget increases (Firewalls, Anti-Virus, Back-Up…), but rather points to the business strategy that will be fulfilled with a given IT capacity • Incorrect budget request: • “we need $xxxxx for preventing intrusions that would stop our business cold if they happened.” • Better way: • “If we can spend an additional $xxxxx, we will be in position to reap benefits of mitigated risk. By doing so, we will reduce the impact of various intrusion techniques by xx% which will allow us to be at 99.9% up-time, keeping email and other external communication going and increasing sales by x%” • (Insert real numbers through research) • IT, has to think more like MBAs even as they continue to think like techies in today’s environment • Getting the budget dollars for resources makes the IT staff feel comfortable and more productive
Support Your Staff • Defer Credit, Take Blame • Nothing makes your staff trust you more than taking the blame when things go wrong, and giving credit to the team when things go well. • I’ve also found that doing this to your direct supervisor and up also works well, because you are not directing any blame upward, and a win for one is a win for all.
Support Your Staff • Get your hands dirty when it’s necessary, but give them the independence to do the job on their own • I have no measurement for this, but personal experience has taught me that IT workers are very smart and will figure things out right, given the time and resources. If you give them that, they will succeed and they will appreciate that you gave them what they needed. • Sometimes, the work cannot be done without you giving a hand, either through advice on past solutions, actually doing the programming/installing, or physically being there to lend support (whatever it might be). • Your staff want to see that you care and that you are working as long and as hard as they are • In my first year at a new position, I make it a point to be there before the first IT staff comes and stay until after the last leaves • And if it requires a 7am to 2am workday, I’m there for all of it.
10% Time • Allow expansion of skills in an area of interest • It really needs to be something the employee wants to do, not what you would like for them to do, as that would defeat the purpose • This is for everyone on your staff • including you! • This always comes back to help the department in some way
Open to Input • The staff has to have real input on projects and in procedures • Encourage staff to let you know what they think • Participation in project teams • Solicit ideas for hardware and software • Solicit ideas on projects for the department/agency • You are in your managerial position because you are good at what you do, and if you hire well (and are lucky), your staff will be very good at what they do • Use their acquired skills and experiences from other jobs and incorporate into your environment • We are somewhat lucky in IT that we attract among the brightest technical people with interesting ideas and ways of doing things, so we all learn from each other’s experiences
Performance Reviews • Feedback should be meaningful and actionable; help them understand their strengths, work with them to overcome weaknesses • Identify training opportunities for skills you might need in the future • Define and clarifying roles • Don’t put techs who would rather sit at the computer all day in a staff contact role, put techs there who have people-skills • “The right person in the right job at the right time”
Mentoring • Have your staff prepare SMART* goals • Personal goals they want to achieve in 1, 3, 5, 10 years • Career goals they want to achieve in 1, 3 and 5 years • Work goals (specific to the current job situation) to achieve in 1 and 3 years • Empower them to achieve these goals or direct them to appropriate resources • *(Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound)
Promotions • Promotions are big motivators • Resist urge to promote without pay raise (title inflation) • Promotions need to be seen by the whole department as merit-based • Nothing is worse for a staff’s morale and motivation than the perception that a co-worker received a “social promotion” • Also helps if the entire company recognizes this as a merit-based promotion • Varies of course on many factors, not the least of which is size
Promotions • Adding a new, necessary, position, that either didn’t exist or was previously cutback • Your win translates as a win for the team; builds confidence within the group • Your staff will perceive you as proactive • Executive Management recognizes that you have a long-term vision and it is aligned to mission
Promotions • Getting money for your department is the hardest thing you’ll usually ever do in your job: • You need to demonstrate both need and benefit (increased ROI) • Executive Management that does not see the value in IT investment will need to be “sold” • More work you need to do managing up
Working toward the next level • High-performers need to be challenged constantly — what makes them achieve so much is that they take on so much • You need to have a long-term strategy that includes some pie-in-the-sky items for your department to do • Communicate these to your staff so that they know what some of the things are that you work on during your 10% time • While aspirational, they have to be realistic goals, lacking only resources that might be overcome with ingenuity