Friday, August 23, 2013

Invisible IT

Job satisfaction is often a problem in IT. Service sector is hard no matter where you work. You might even quip in song: Seldom is heard, an encouraging word. Service, especially when focused internally in a business, is an expectation and really doesn't get the recognition other business units receive when good things happen.

People involved in service do receive, on the other hand, a great deal of frustration, complaint, and sometimes anger. We're the clean up crew when things go wrong. When someone calls IT it's rarely because something good happened. This is something people in careers that are dedicated to service resign themselves to knowing full well that stress will become a routine part of life. But IT isn't just involved in support of existing services; There's a constant effort to improve and upgrade existing services. Updated services get pushed out constantly trying to keep up with demand and business case needs.

Last week my job involved going live with a new fiber connection to all our locations. We'd been getting by with some bonded T1 connections and one location had a single T1. Communications were via MPLS over these small pipes. After months of wrangling we managed to get fiber installed and went from 3Mbps over MPLS to a fat 50/50Mbps connection at each location. This is no small incremental increase!

The new connection went live Wednesday night and I got myself all prepped for problems Thursday morning. Only one problem cropped up and things went smoothly. "Surely," I thought to myself, "Someone will be sending IT brownies, or cookies, or something Friday morning!" The network response was amazing, applications were faster than ever, and call quality was dramatically improved. Friday morning rolls around and....nothing. No cookies, no doughnuts, not even a job-well-done pat on the back.

Now, don't get me wrong, management understands the improvements and we're not talking about total radio silence here. It's just that, from a job satisfaction point of view, you always hope that improvements would get the same response as an organization-wide outage does. IT labors in anonymity until things go wrong. The good things we do are preventative and steer the good ship around the hazards ahead. The fact is, service will always be harder than being served. That's not a bad thing; It is something to aspire to. There's fulfillment to be found in the service and the job well done.

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