I don’t think I’ve heard the term used since the last economics class I took in college. It’s oft-relegated as neigh irrelevant - one of those ethereal, difficult to measure items, that’s left out of the equation for so many business decisions, especially in IT. Not that you can really blame the operational managers in IT – they’re typically so busy fighting fires and pushing projects forward that they’re happy if they can get any kind of metrics together into a report to get upper management off their backs. Trying to put a dollar value on intangibles isn’t even on the radar.
Yet, that would have really been the opportunity to shine when petitioning for more resources. Anyone who’s worked in the trenches of IT knows that the enemy of progress, especially where complex tasks are concerned, is the constant interruption. Be it from unexpected server or network failures, ‘quick’ patching that went sideways, or the mundane (but crucial) maintenance tasks like checking the backup jobs every morning or keeping up on the latest vulnerabilities on all your operating systems. Opportunity lost.
Few of us want to spend our lives working the same tasks day in and day out. Humans, by nature, desire to grow and improve themselves and their surroundings. Us IT folks are no different. So we strive to work towards bigger and better tasks and projects - really just upgrading from simple problems to tougher ones. That leaves a gap at the bottom though – to loosely quote Jack Nicholson from A Few Good Men, “As mundane and boring as these daily maintenance tasks may be to you, you want me on those tasks, you need me on those tasks!” So, you either have to bring in more bodies to take over those mundane tasks, or, as happens more often than not, such tasks are relegated to your existing talent, stunting their career growth and squandering their talent. Opportunity lost.
Sure, we tell ourselves it’s just “for now” until we get that intern or Tier 1 position approved. We all know how temporary “temporary” really is. We tell ourselves it’s all part of paying your dues, a coming-of-age as an IT engineer. I’d agree with that - to a point. But the majority of talented professionals that I’ve worked with, experienced their biggest career leaps by changing employers. Opportunity lost.
Hey, maybe you’re one of the lucky few, and your organization is fluid enough where you’re able to consistently bring in new talent and grow your IT department at the healthy rate you’d like. For the rest of us though, the reality is that temporary is always longer than it should be. Projects that move the business forward are always delayed by maintenance scheduling and unforeseen emergencies, and IT is not seen as the hero, enabling the business to prosper, but rather the ones holding up everything with technicalities. Opportunity lost.
There is a better way though. Managed Services providers specialize precisely in the management and maintenance of IT infrastructure. We all understand economies of scale. Mason’s don’t quarry stone, Nascar drivers don’t fix cars, mathematicians don’t assemble calculators, and astronauts don’t build rockets. To each their own, if you love what you do, do it! If you’re feeling stuck in maintenance mode though, and want to elevate yourself and your team to build bigger things, design more fulfilling projects, and just generally accomplish more, consider letting the professionals handle the maintenance of your infrastructure. Their job is to grease the skids so your IT Team can finally be the heroes. Opportunity seized.