One of my first questions as a billing clerk - who all of a sudden was responsible for the small IT shop - was, "The guy who hired me 3 months ago just quit. How can I impress the big boss, so he doesn't hire someone else over me ?" The major concern in small shops is you end up wearing several hats, putting in many hours and kissing a lotta derrière. Like many other small shops, then and now, management flies by the seat of their pants when it comes to investing dollars in IT. There was no real budget in our company. If you wanted something, you had to show and prove how it would benefit 'The Company'.
After several emergencies and many rounds of tutelage with my newly found IT buds, we formed the System 3 Users Group of Colorado. It was similar to LUG for today's users. This is where I was able expand my knowledge in IT. Asking the boss, (president of the company), for about 10 bucks a month for meetings was a no-go until I could prove what the company would get out of it. Local user groups were most helpful when it came to getting ideas for taking what you have and making it better. I also learned from friends and cohorts who had, at one time or another, shot themselves in the foot, trying to save the company money.
As the company grew, month end processing was becoming an ordeal for IT. The Statement Run would end up taking longer each month. On the first of every month, all management was concerned with was: "Did the statements get out last night? And how much was the postage ?" They didn't even ask about the last 12 hours overnight we just put in. Eventually, statements didn't finish until the second of the month which, if you think like an owner, is wonderful news - more customers! But with our terms at 2% ten, net 30, customers would get one extra day to pay their bill and still get a 2 percent discount. This truly ticked off the boss. I could see it coming soon: We're going to end up finishing on the third of the month, and I'm going to be seen as the cause of the problem. I'm really just a messenger here, but IT required translation back then, and those skills were quite rare at the time.
At one of our user group meetings, I struck up a conversation with an IT manager, Pete, whose shop was two blocks away from ours - small world. After dinner and a few libations, I told him of my situation. His shop was at least three times the size of ours. His platform was large compared to our small/mid sized system. I told Pete I was using our Vendors Analysis Reports to try to help me speed up the system, but to no avail.
"Additional libations garçon", Pete says as he commences to tell me about a near disaster in his shop. "Rick, there are a lot of vendors' tools, system products, etc., to look at. You just need to know which product to use that is going to take you the furthest". Who was I to question the 'Master'? He goes on to tell me about a software package he heard about from a friend of his.. He saw what it did and took a shot at making it work for him. Once he installed this software tool used to measure cpu, cpw, disk, memory, etc., he was able to make adjustments to his system according to the graphs and reports he was using.
End result is, he saved his company a ton of money. He was able to give management results that avoided an expensive upgrade that his vendors were saying he had to have. The upgrade did eventually come. Only at Pete's advice and timing this time around. Come to find out, Pete is very good at what he does, and now I know how he does it. After about 6 months of statements going out on the second, the boss finally let me bring in my bud and show him what the tool did for his company. It took a long evening and a bottle of Jim Beam to convince the boss what good 'The Company' would get from the software. He finally let me purchase the package to help figure out what I could do to get statements out on the first.
We never looked back. Within the first two weeks of using my new Weapon of Choice, now installed and collecting data, I was able to start shifting system resources, moving applications to run at different times, etc.
The first time our statements went out on the first within an 8 hour day, was not a day to be forgotten. With the graphs and reports produced from my new weapon, and a bottle of Jim Beam, I was able to show the boss how and why it used to be, and the way it now is. I was a hero ! Monthly user group dinners were now 12 bucks...... "go ahead Rick, and take Pete with you". The boss was very pleased. I still think what pleased him the most was the fact that he didn't have to give customers an extra day, and it was only going to cost him 24 bucks....
No truer words were ever spoken than when Pete told me, "You just need to know which product to use that is going to take you the furthest".
And today, 30 odd years later, as I coach my customers in the use of our tools, The MPG Navigator Family, not so much has changed. IT people still have performance issues, and bosses still have dollar issues. It is the natural push and pull between the two interests. It is kinda like the dynamic tension built into our government, with the separation of powers concept. There are great tools now available, compared to the dull-edged stuff I used to use, and another thing that for sure has changed - you can't get a dinner for 2 with drinks for $24.
About the Author: Rick Castañeda was the Midrange Performance Group Technical Support Manager; he was on staff at MPG 1993-2018. Many of our customers have worked extensively with Rick over the years, and he consistently got stellar reviews for his work in sorting out difficult problems for our clients.
Rick and wife, Monica, spend a lot of time with their granddaughter, Alysia Lynn. They also love to ride Rick's Harley, and oftentimes - especially in summer - they moved their headquarters to a special mountain getaway cabin near Lake Granby in the Colorado Rockies.