What matters more: Your IT budget or your time?
At my old IT gig, our major concern wasn't really money. I mean, don't get me wrong, I personally would have loved more of it, but as a group, our budget was very strong. On the other hand, none of us seemed to have enough hours in the day to do everything we wanted - or were expected - to do. In fact, at the end of many quarters, we hadn't even spent the lot of our budget, because we just ran out of time.
My days were filled with interruption after interruption: a noisy server that had run out of disk, remote users who had timed out without changing their domain passwords, an executive with a blue-screened laptop, and an ever-increasing number of helpdesk tickets that seemed to multiply like a rain-soaked mogwai (Gremlins, anyone?). Oh, and critical company initiatives? Who was going to discuss them, and when were we going to have the time to do it?
Money wasn't really the primary issue. Time had become my most valued currency, and there just wasn't enough of it to go around.
I'm certainly not alone. Take the more recent example of Greg Powell, a system administrator with a growing delivery service that employs about 30 office workers and roughly 80 drivers. As the sole IT guy, Greg is responsible for every IT function within the organization. When delivery trucks inevitably break down, loads need to be redirected and drivers need to be reassigned. In turn, Greg has to provide systems that deliver immediate access, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even on holidays.
He's accountable at all times, and more money isn't going to solve his problems.
Greg's organization relies on a transportation application that runs out of the company's main office. When drivers have problems after hours, they're funneled to executive staffers who haul laptops around, so they can access the network and redirect, reassign, re-route and keep the company moving forward. All of this demands secure remote connections back to the company's home base. Greg relies on a hardware-based VPN to facilitate access, but it's been frustratingly slow and unreliable.
Greg can afford the systems required to give access - it's not about the money. But undependable systems have led to missed deliveries, a growing number of interruptions, and too much wasted time.
Desperate for a more reliable, efficient solution, Greg puts his four execs a secure cloud network powered by Pertino. (It was incredibly affordable, so not a dollar-driven decision.) He simply installed the Pertino client on his organization’s servers, providing immediate access to the critical transportation application. The whole process took less than an hour of Greg's time. With Pertino, his exec staff now has a faster, simpler, more reliable connection.
Now execs don't bother Greg with unnecessary interruptions. He has more time, is more scheduled, and can direct his attention toward bigger, long-term initiatives.
In the business world, we're all asked to 'do more with less.' For IT guys, this cliché is taken to a whole new level. When execs ask them to 'do more with less,' they really mean 'we're cutting your budget, but we expect you to figure it out, while continuing to drive more productivity.'
In my experience, and for guys like Greg Powell, productivity isn't always about spending more or less money. It's about eliminating 'time sucks,' so we can complete more projects and focus on bigger problems. A bigger budget may allow me to buy more IT products, but what I really want is an IT solution that offers problem avoidance and user satisfaction. Like Greg, I need solutions that deploy quickly and easily, drive productivity, while freeing me from having to put out fire after fire, so I can focus on the tasks that carry the most weight.
Don't get me wrong, I know time is money. But time is also its own special type of currency that buys greater productivity, more sanity and special moments with family after all the day's work is finally through.
With this in mind I vote for time over money, but what's your opinion? Which would you rather have: more time or more dollars? What IT solutions have you found that give you both? Share your thoughts in the comments below!