Fatal distraction: 7 IT mistakes that will get you fired

True tales of IT pros who screwed up big and got fired quick

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Fatal IT mistake No. 6: Unmitigated disaster

They thought they were ready for anything. An organization in a heavily regulated industry had spent millions building out a comprehensive disaster-recovery plan, including a dedicated fail-over data center humming with hundreds of virtual hosts and a Gigabit Ethernet connection.

But when an unplanned network outage cut the connection to its primary data center, the money the organization spent on its DR solution was for naught.

"The CTO did not have the confidence to activate the disaster-recovery plan, because they had never tested it," says Michael de la Torre, vice president of recovery services product management for SunGard Availability Services, which was called in by the organization later to shore up its DR strategy. "Instead, he stood by for more than a day hoping the circuit would be repaired. Everyone was offline that entire time. Employees had no access to email or data files, and the organization took a pretty big hit to its reputation."

Shortly thereafter, the CTO's career also suffered an unplanned outage.

More than half of all organizations with disaster-recovery plans in place fail to adequately test them, notes de la Torre. Even those that do test uncover an average of five critical errors in the people, process, and tools needed to make DR work.

Disaster recovery is neither glamorous nor easy, but it's vital to the survival of your company, he adds.

"Protecting the business may never get you promoted. But failing to do so will almost always get you fired."

Moral of the story: Test your umbrella before the **** hits the fan.

Fatal IT mistake No. 7: Speaking truth to power

Ten years ago, "Bob" was working for a payday loans franchise with more than 1,000 locations nationwide. (Bob asked that his real name be withheld from this story.) He had been hired to rearchitect the chain's ASP-based system, which was running ancient code on servers in every store. But first he had to prove himself by converting the stores' dozens of Web-based legal forms into a database.

One Friday afternoon, six months into the job and two weeks before his initial trial was over, the vice president of IT came into the weekly staff meeting to present his five-year vision for the company. The veep's two-hour speech could be summed up in four bullet points, says Bob:

  • Stay the course
  • Fix bugs
  • Don't rock the boat
  • No new technology

"I was floored," says Bob. "I thought, 'What about all the stuff they hired me for?' They were spending millions of dollars a year maintaining creaky sites written by 50 different people."

Later that afternoon, Bob went into the VP's office and closed the door.

"He asked me, 'So what do you think of my vision?'" Bob says. "I said, 'Frankly, sir, you don't have one. What you just described was a maintenance plan.'"

The VP thanked him for his candor and complimented him on his courage. The following Monday when Bob returned to his office his key no longer worked. He was gone.

"I drove home whistling," he says. "I've never been so happy to be unemployed. I decided I would never have my career depend on an empty suit ever again. The next day I started my own business, which has kept me busy ever since."

Moral of the story: Sometimes getting yourself fired is the right thing to do.

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This story, "Fatal distraction: 7 IT mistakes that will get you fired," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in IT careers at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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