The challenge of simple IT: align the needs of the business to the budget, add capability without complexity


“Hey John, got a minute?”

My mornings are usually busy. Look at my email, review open help tickets and yesterday’s closures. Look over the logs and checklists. Swap tapes, and glance over the equipment in the server room. Review my open to-dos. That morning I was getting ready to head down to our maquila facility, so I was cramming a lot of activity into a short window of time. But I like to be helpful, so I got up from my desk and followed the CFO into our CEO’s office.

That’s how I got laid off. After worrying about it for four years, I’d finally started to relax. I’d worked hard to trim IT costs while offering more and better services, outsourcing basic utilities, keeping in-house those things which needed tight control over cost and outcome. I’d helped get two more factories up and running. I’d stepped in and worked as controller for four months. I’d executed a headquarters move within an impossibly compressed schedule.

Divorced of emotion, a lay-off is a practical decision. Who needs to be kept, and who doesn’t. I have a strong staff, our department gets it done. They can probably do it without me looking over their shoulder. So as I sat in the CEO’s office listening to him explain the situation, I understood. I wasn’t angry or fearful. I felt bad, because I know these kinds of conversations are difficult. I wanted to say “please don’t worry, I’ll be okay.”

I walked back to my office and started making a list in my head. Site-to-site two-way sync and online backup, maquila entity setup in our ERP program, status of CRM and QA projects, how I should restructure security. Wait, I need to get a job! So here I am, four weeks later, still struggling to get my arms around an effective transition and find a job.

Actually, I have created a project plan for the transition. One in Asana for my right-hand man. One in Google Docs for our CFO, who needs to know what’s going on right now and in what direction we’ve been heading. And here is where it’s hard to be divorced from emotion: pride for what my team and I have created, regret for the things I’ve never found the time to do, fear over what will happen to it when I walk out the door for the last time.

One thing’s for sure. I’ll have more time to write this blog 🙂



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