Over the years, I've seen firsthand how expensive it becomes when there is no planning or coherent strategy within an organization. Extreme attempts to cut corners and costs will always create a severe detriment to all departments -- and the operations areas are no exception. I've seen this management mentality in many companies, but one experience stands out as being the most extreme case I've ever witnessed.
My story begins August 2001. I was a new hire at a large engineering and consulting firm. A week and a half later, I experienced my first layoff when our firm was purchased by another large engineering and consulting firm. This left 300 engineering staff looking for work a few weeks before Sept. 11. After that day, the tech job market disappeared in my area.
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Soon afterward, I interviewed with a local textile manufacturing firm. The owners dodged many of my questions and were very vague about the position -- only describing it as a mixture of IT support and manufacturing software development. Even though warning bells were clanging loudly in my head, due to market conditions I accepted.
I will never forget those first days especially.
The IT department had always been a one-man shop, and my predecessor had been a technical school graduate with very little IT experience. When he resigned, he did not leave the password or any admin information, so I was unable to log into the system for two days. We had to pay him for two hours' consulting time to get the passwords.
As the only IT staff person, my on-call time extended 24/7, with no overtime pay and no backup person, and I was advised to consider selling my house and moving closer to the plant so that I could be on site quickly in case of a problem. I was told this is how it was always done with their IT staff.
Now about the physical environment: The "datacenter" was located in a house behind the main facility. It seems that the company had contaminated the property years earlier with dyes from their manufacturing process and bought out the house's owner to avoid legal action, then moved part of the day-to-day operations into it. The living room housed the accounting areas and the bedrooms were turned into offices.