How have you been able to justify hiring an additional employee for those of you that aren’t supervised by a technical person? I’ve been trying for years to ask for additional help with no luck. My guess is that they just don’t understand the magnitude of my responsibilities in addition to me not being able to effectively relay what my needs are in a way they understand.
We have a large campus of 11 buildings connected via fiber, a second campus that I don’t have much involvement with since we don’t own the building, and a warehouse with minimal needs. We run a school with 700+ students and 200+ of those are upperclassmen with wireless devices on the network. The school has a help desk person that installs and troubleshoots their PCs, but that’s the extent of it. So by myself I have to centrally manage around 350 desktops/laptops, ~15 VM servers, 2 host VMware cluster, backup/utility server, 3 SANs and 1 NAS, 3 NVRs with 200+ IP cams on main campus and 1 NVR with 2 cams at the warehouse, firewalls at main location and warehouse, wireless controller with 45 APs, ~40 switches, hosted phone system with 200 devices, all your typical services (spam filter, content filter, O365, etc.), plus all user issues for the church side which is around 75 users.
I’ve always stressed that I just don’t have the time to properly manage and train people in software, which I think could be a huge addition. Weeks like this past week just makes me wish for an extra set of hands as I spent all week solving user issues and only addressed an infrastructure need once. I know everyone here can understand that’s a lot to do for one person, but how do I convince my superiors of that? PLEASE HELP!
From my past experiences, if you have a ticketing system you can use it to help justify needing additional help by showing leadership the number of tickets worked and also showing them what isn’t getting done in a timely manner due to all of the helpdesk tickets you are having to work on your own on top of trying to manage and maintain everything else. It’s sometimes hard to get leadership to understand the need for additional help whether it be part time or full time.
Try taking a two week vacation!
Seriously though, we use a third party support service. It was difficult getting that cost approved but they are cheaper than hiring a qualified full time employee, and they are available 24/7. Our network is slightly smaller but we run a K-8 with a couple hundred middle school students using wireless devices It still took time to convince everyone that the money was well spent and I still get nervous about taking vacation time.
Oh, with those numbers you should see if you can bring in an MSP for parts of that. Sometimes it’s cheaper than an employee and if you get the right one you’ll get a few experts/specialists to help with that. Honestly, just the school itself probably needs 1.5~2 tier 1 staff let alone all the sysadmin stuff that comes with that.
That is a challenge Eric. I have found three things to be helpful and persuasive.
- Keep a log of your hours and activities (or a log for everyone in your department).
- List all the deferred actions, things not getting done that need to be done.
- Survey other churches of similar size to see the FTEs they have for your responsibilities.
The first will spur a discussion of what it takes to get things done and provide evidence that you are making the most of your time. Along with the second item you may also have fruitful discussions on whether the priorities are correct, as well as the beginnings of a discussion on how to fill the gap. E.g.: If I don’t do this, who does? What is the impact? Who else could do this? Lots of times, we (or I) am the only one that has the expertise and authority to do these tasks–at least as currently organized and empowered.
The deferred list also tends to be an eyeopener, especially if you take the time to explain the impact. Example: No offsite data backup. Explain the impact. That if a drive fails and the onsite backup doesn’t restore, the church has lost data. If there is a fire and the server room is hit, you lose all data. If ransomware hits your server, you can pay the ransom and hope the data is returned. Half the time it isn’t and you’ve lost your data. Present all this dispassionately, not as an advocate. It’s best if your supervisor comes to the conclusion more help is needed based on the facts as opposed to your appeal for more help.
Be thorough about how you surveyed other churches. There is a tendency to be skeptical that these are apples-to-apples comparisons. Show your work and that you took care to makes sure the scope of the work was the same, and if not, where it differed and how much impact that may have on the results.
You get extra credit in these type of discussions when you show how you have taken steps to increase productivity, train the staff to reduce how much they rely upon you and your team, prioritize tasks, or eliminate tasks that technology has made obsolete or redundant. You also get extra credit for exploring solutions and presenting options for discussion.
Thanks for the input so far! I’ve worked for 2 MSPs in the past, and my superiors first response to addressing my concerns was out sourcing. My problem with that is what I would prefer to outsource would be the grunt work as I enjoy doing the systems and networking stuff the most. However, I know what help desk level work gets you with MSPs a lot of the time. I feel like there would need to be somebody on-site a lot to help with what I need and that would require a lot of training in addition to just them getting to know the building since it’s so large. The typical per user rate that MSPs charge now just doesn’t work well with us with having so many employees. I’ve asked 2 companies about supporting only the church side employees and both were high enough to just hire someone and hiring would be more beneficial in my opinion. It would make more sense to outsource some systems stuff, but again that’s what I would prefer to do.
I’ve tried several approaches such as listing out every device type and application I have to support. I’ve shown them the CITRT 2014 survey where I sit on average with IT employees, but we have twice as many devices and employees as those average numbers. I actually left a couple years ago because my concerns kept getting ignored and I was only being paid 40K in the same role. They got quotes from MSPs at the time for 7K-11K/mo and decided to hire again. I wasn’t happy where I was and I was approached about coming back, so I did.
I think I need to try going with what @bcrawley and @leftshot has said. I was holding out on getting a ticketing system for when I got some help, but I probably just need to spin one up and use that as documentation. I’ve brought up having to defer things also, but maybe I need to give more explanation on the impact of doing that.
A bit of cyberstalking and… yeah, it looks like your church has 50+ staff so between $5,000~$7,500 would be normal in a metropolitan area if an MSP was providing all the bells and whistles for just the church staff in an uncomplicated environment. Definitely going to go up if there is complex stuff to support involved. It does start to make less sense at that point (although, as you know, it depends somewhat on calculating the cost of the employee + benefits + software + other includes). There are some that will do POC rates and/or put tier 1’s on-site, but many don’t have those type of plans. What rates that high should signal though, is that the site is large and complex enough that even at their scale advantages they need a significant amount of resources to tackle it.
Honestly, I’d be swinging hard at making the school pay for IT support and use that to hire. Too often schools pop up in church facilities and expect all their IT needs to fall to church IT support. That’s inappropriate though as they are completely different entities with different goals and objectives… especially if it is registered as a separate legal entity, which it almost certainly is for accreditation. At least that’s the point where I would demarcate things such that a manager would understand. There is also the “bus factor” which sometimes gives managers enough of a scare to hire: “hey boss, if I get hit by a bus tomorrow, there is no succession for IT support.”
Out of curiosity, are they making you do the satellite campus’ as well?
You hit the nail on the head with suggesting making them pay for it. We’ve had that exact dynamic where they kind of just assume they don’t need any additional IT staff because I have the infrastructure covered. My whole reasoning for pushing for a hire again was because they started talking about hiring a second security person and it got worked out in about a month. My whole argument has been that I’ve been trying to express my needs for 5 years and security gets an additional hire quickly just because people can see physical security needs and understand those needs more than IT. We didn’t even have 1 security person 3 years ago.
Since you stalked me (lol) you can see how large our campus is and the school is spread across the whole campus now. The new headmaster came from another local private school with a few separated buildings. They had about 4 IT staff and has admitted we are understaffed, yet IT is always pushed to the back burner around here. My hope is that they can at least allow me to hire another support person. My preference would be for the school to hire somebody that can do everything with me and move the current help desk person into a position where they support the school and church side for tier 1 requests. My reasoning for this is the current person doesn’t have the experience to manage a school. About 4 or 5 years ago they pushed to have students bring iPads, but didn’t have the infrastructure to do it. So I had to roll out additional APs. They also have never bothered to come up with money to buy our own, so its still BYOD which as you know makes it extremely hard to manage what can be accessed. I have to be reactive and do my best to limit access on BYOD devices because ultimately I’m responsible for what comes in and out the network.
I do cover the satellite campus in a way, but we rent space from an elementary school. That is our first satellite and the rollout of it was horrible. Everything IT wise was also purchased from Portable Church. Volunteers manage the set up and only come to me when something needs fixed.
Way, way, back, I faced some of this same problem. I looked at it more as a task/prioritizing situation, not necessarily staffing, but it might apply either way. See if this helps at all: Tony Dye: Prioritization Fun