What have I learned in 20 years of IT…

I began my IT life as a helpdesk professional. I moved from the helpdesk to running an internal IT system (mail) and eventually running some IT programs beyond the mail system.

My job was to create an environment where the mail system was operational at probably a 95% SLA. Now, I didn’t own the remotely connected systems and found out very quickly why that didn’t work for mail systems. I pulled the new mail system completely to the corporate office because of that. I was ahead of my time, in that the systems we had didn’t effectively support a centralized email system, but I was trying to solve a bigger business problem at the time.

Our company was running most of our business at that time on an AS/400 system. Based on that, most business services except for email were centralized. The problem was the company didn’t grow organically. It grew rapidly via acquisition.

I would learn that lesson well. It was the first big lesson of my IT career. Decentralized non-organic growth causes the development of remote political factions.

It is not the only lesson I have learned in my career. In fact, it is one of many I have learned. Some, I learned the hard way trying to solve problems before they blew up and causing a bigger problem. Other times I found out the hard way that someone else’s error was going to cost me an hour. Once until 2 am on Christmas Eve. Sitting in an office in Columbus Ohio, and needing to be in Bloomington Indiana for Christmas day. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much as I drove all night.

It is not the only lesson I have learned in my career. In fact, it is one of many I have learned. Some, I learned the hard way trying to solve problems before they blew up and causing a bigger problem. Other times I found out the hard way that someone else’s error was going to cost me an hour. Once until 2 am on Christmas Eve. Sitting in an office in Columbus Ohio, and needing to be in Bloomington Indiana for Christmas day. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much as I drove all night.

Communication was the first thing I learned. Not how to, but the overall importance of communication. How we communicate is always important. What we communicate is also critical. I hope all of us know why we communicate. But when is always the one that gets us into trouble. Communicate early, often and clearly to reduce the stress for others.

The importance of planning was my next lesson. I cannot tell you how many migrations I have planned that because of the plan didn’t end up in the ditch.

Finally the last and possibly most critical lesson I have learned is that when people are frustrated they don’t say what they mean and what they say isn’t always mean. It is simply said in the heat of the moment. Water, people says off the duck’s back!

I carry these lessons with me to every technology project I am a part of and involved in. They keep me moving forward and help me keep the project moving along as well!

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Old IT guy