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Advice needed - understaffed company?

Rich McTavish

Joined: Jul 01, 2006
Posts: 2
I recently started at a company as a developer, and it appears to be very understaffed. The company has about 4,000 employees.

Some apparent problems I've noticed are:

-There is no CTO/CIO. The IS department falls under the CFO. He doesn't know that much about IT and doesn't really care about it unless the "lights go out".
-There was an Application Development/Support Manager position, but it's apparently been vacant for about 12 months now. Instead, they've made various senior personnel "team leaders" who may have 1-3 people under supervision. Non of them have "manager" in their title.
-There are no project managers, or tech leads per se. Tasks seems to get handed down from those with experience, but with no well defined requirements. Just a "get it done" attitude.
-Developers seem to spend a lot of time doing support on systems, rather than development.
-There is no QA staff. And I know of at least one big project where there are no test cases at all...
-They outsource A LOT! There is always some contractor running around that's involved in a critical aspect of a project.
-They seem to buy whatever canned software they can, thinking that's better than developing it in-house. And then they spend a lot of time writing custom software to connect them.
-There are way too few Sys Admins and DBAs. To get simple tasks done (like upgrade Application Servers) seems to take forever.

The ironic part is that they are using some good technologies that I'm interested in. And they seem to have quite a few smart people around. It's just that the company is relying on a few smart people to get everything done, and the roles are so blurred it's ridiculous. (Fi: the Enterprise Architect acts as both a Sys Admin and C programmer!).

Already I'm doing: systems analysis, development, production support, code reviews, and meeting on topics that I think should be handled by a Business Analyst (which they don't have either).

I can't say the pay is that great... but it's interesting to be doing more than just heads down coding. Any thoughts? Is this company just a time-bomb waiting to go off? Or have they taken "Agile IT" to the nth degree somehow?
Mark Herschberg

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Agile is not the same as an abdication of leadership, which is what you're describing. I'm guessing this is not a technology company, so what industry is it in? What they do, their industry, competition, and history might give you some indication of why things are they way they are, and what needs to change culturally to affect a change operationally.

The question for you is: will youenjoy your job and grow in your career while working there. This includes your responsibilities, corowkrers, career path, risks, compensation, learn and growth, etc.

alfred jones
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 19, 2005
Posts: 279
dooms days....
Rich McTavish

Joined: Jul 01, 2006
Posts: 2
Hi Mark,

They are a retail company with quite a bit of competition. But they have been profitable for quite a few years despite working this way.
Paul Clapham

Joined: Oct 14, 2005
Posts: 19973

So it sounds to me like they consider IT to be not mission critical, or even to be a necessary evil. I think this is quite a common situation. And they may even be right. You probably haven't been there long enough to know, but ask yourself whether making changes to that IT organization would make any difference to the company's profitability.
I agree. Here's the link:
subject: Advice needed - understaffed company?
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