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Why Leaving Systems and Application Management to Engineers Can Cause Trouble

Written by Mike Solinap
Published on March 20, 2013

How Economizing can Hurt your Business

There is a saying in some parts, “I am too poor to buy cheaply.” At first it sounds contradictory, but anyone who has bought something cheaply (electrical goods, car parts, computer equipment or any kind of service) and then discovered that it broke quickly or didn’t perform as expected will understand that trying to do things on the cheap normally costs more money in the long term.

This lesson is equally true for information systems, especially for those systems used to support and aid engineers as they develop the next generation of products for your company.

The scenario is all too common. Some IT equipment or an IT service is purchased and then when it fails, for whatever reason, the engineers end up drinking coffee and waiting while it all gets fixed. This applies to everything from software development tools  to networking equipment and from servers to cloud based services.

Any component that fails in your engineering IT system leaves engineers unproductive and frustrated — especially if they have to double as IT admins. If a failure occurs, not only does your project miss its deadline, but key elements such as quality and compliance can be jeopardized.

Engineers as IT Admins

One common area where businesses try to make savings is in the area of system or application administration. The thinking goes like this — an independent administrator isn’t needed because the engineers have enough knowledge to install, maintain, configure and administer the systems and applications that they use.

This is a false economy for two very simple but fundamental reasons:

  1. While the engineers are maintaining the systems they aren’t innovating and creating products for your company. Although this should be a self evident truth it seems to be often overlooked. In the worse case scenarios, extra engineers are hired to help with product development because too much time is being spent by the existing engineers in maintaining the IT systems. This in itself compounds the problem as Brooks’ Law tells us that “adding manpower to a late (software) project makes it later.”
  2. IT engineers probably don’t have the skills needed. Although engineers are, by nature, technically minded and can solve general IT related problems, their knowledge about IT is broad but not necessarily deep. This means that when a non-general IT problem arises, related to a particular feature or configuration of a certain system, their general knowledge is insufficient to resolve the issue — often letting the issue go unresolved and hindering productivity. The alternative to this situation is to use an IT outsourcing company, who specializes in designing, installing and maintaining engineering related IT systems or applications, giving your engineers more time to develop.

Stay tuned and subscribe to our blog as we continue to look at common areas where trying to economize IT services leaves your business at risk.

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