Another good skill to have --- Understanding the business you work for.

This topic was created by jcitron .

  1. jcitron

    Another good skill to have --- Understanding the business you work for.

    As technicians and support people we have our job cut out for us every day. The thing is we can become too focused on what is directly around us and sometimes this can cause heart ache and frustrations for the users we support. Over the many years of my varied technical career, I learned the business operations side of thing and how my technical work impacted the other users. This may sound odd, but knowing this actually put me at an advantage as a prospective employee for a very large company.

    So what did I learn over the years. many of you are probably asking yourselves. First of all it's understanding the quarterly and monthly operating cycle. This time of year is usually busy and hectic as the sales force and accounting are closing the books. Knowing this is a big plus as this can determine whether servers can be touched, for upgrades and other maintenance tasks, or if one should plan on extra O/T for extra support at the month end/quarter end/ fiscal year end cycles.

    While I was at my last employer, I am retired now, I worked with the sales force directly and stayed late on those book closing nights. Most of the time it was quiet and I got a lot of my own work done like closing tickets, imaging laptops, and refreshing old loaner machines, other times were quite busy as the users were sometimes left hanging out in limbo with a down machine and critical contracts to close.

    A good example of a clueless operations staff happened a couple of years ago. During a quarter end close, the tech operations staff decided it was time to upgrade the mail server. No notice was sent to any of us so we didn't even know why our phones were suddenly ringing off the hook. I called the helpless desk and got a prerecorded message that the mail server had been taken offline for a preplanned upgrade and there was no ETA until the upgrade was completed. Hello! Preplanned and no notice! I called my manager who assisted me in contacting the right people. Going forward this never happened again.

    The other thing that comes out of this, as I mentioned is preplanning for O/T and time off. This is a time when vacations can't be taken and I would deny vacations to any of my support staff. The reason is this is the time when we need to be in the office even if it's for a couple of weeks. Any other time is okay, but never, ever plan a vacation at the end of the quarter.

    Understanding the business side also gives us a better understanding of the end-user applications. I used this opportunity to learn a B2B and CRM application that the users used. When it came to support, I was frontline support for it and it was another thing I could put on my CV (resume for us here in the US). At one company, after I became a jack of all trades due to downsizing, I was also responsible for creating the new fiscal year on a SQL-based server. This used to be done by my manager, but he was let go and now I had to assist in that process as I built up the GL tables and setup the forms, tested, and proofed along with the accounting department. Later on I assisted accounting with running their reports, and then much later would run them automatically upon their approval.

    These are only a small sample of what one can learn. Learn what you can about the business you work for. This makes you a more valuable employee in the long run and is also valuable for future employment.


    (A retired IT guy)

  2. SiempreTuna

    I did some work for the Japanese part of global SAP roll out for a US mutlinational. Everythin ran on servers in the US. For some reason, the system kept going down around lunchtime in Tokyo .. because everything was taken down at midnight US time for backups

    Not so much knowing your business as how the globe affects your global system

    1. JulianB

      Given that the US has four time zones across the contiguous states (and a total of nine once you include the "oddments"), you'd think they'd get the idea that not everywhere in the world is at the same time, but it's still not uncommon to run into problems in our working day because it's nighttime over there.

  3. jcitron

    I've had that happen before myself. Way back while at a long gone manufacturer, the order department would get knocked offline every afternoon when they were shipping out the products. It turned out that the computer system was located in Belgium and was set to do backups at 23:00. When the backups kicked in, we'd be disconnected and I'd get the calls about lost transactions.

    It took a meeting between my manager, corporate IT, and myself to get this straightened out.


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