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Currently we're 3 workers in our Systems Department, the thing is the three of us do everything: support(for a bit over 75 users, and a bit over 90 computer systems[some computers are used by 2 or 3 different users]), software development, networking, database administration(for over 9 small companies), and sometimes look for manuals and such for other departments, one of the guys is leaving now, and my colleague and I feel like the department lacks structure, I know that being able to do everything is good experience wise, but it's bad performance wise as in we can't really focus on one thing since we also have to be by the phone whenever a user encounters a problem. We want to convince our CFO(since he alongside the member that's leaving, helped to digitize the company and that's why our department reports to him, that's what I was told) that we need an extra worker with a degree and at least 3 interns, but the CFO is very jealous when it comes to spending money, how can I convince him that it's not only money being spent but more of an investment for the company?

Note that my colleague has been 1 year and 1 month on the job and I have been around for 9 months. So we're relatively new and don't feel like our recommendations/suggestions have enough weight to be considered.

marked as duplicate by Joe Strazzere, gnat, Myles, Lilienthal, Justin Cave Feb 9 '16 at 1:00

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    You need to replace one person that is leaving, I don't see a role for 3 interns, that would just add to the workload. More realistic to get two new people. One engineer and one junior for phone duties and time consuming stuff. From your description of the work, 3 should be adequate, and you have been handling it with three up to now, so getting the extra might be hard. – Kilisi Feb 8 '16 at 19:13
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    @Kilisi Well the work it is getting done but not all of it, I truly feel we're slacking in the development area, there's space for so much improvement we just don't have time, then I also am the "field engineer" so have to visit sometimes the corporate offices, that's already half a day lost, it usually takes more time to get there than the actual time I'm being productive over there, and I also visit the warehouse offices which can basically take me 3 hours full trip. So some weeks, I'm only 30% of the time at the office. – Just Do It Feb 8 '16 at 19:24
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    That's the issue tho, we're all developers but we spend most of our time attending users since we don't have enough people, and that's when our development area suffers ... @Kilisi – Just Do It Feb 8 '16 at 19:47
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    It gets better and you're gaining valuable experience, and doing some constructive networking with clients which will be good for your future and make your name. You can't buy that sort of experience. I have my own business now, but I still have some of the clients who I first met when I was a mouse fixing grunt over a decade ago and they were small outfits who have expanded a lot since then. – Kilisi Feb 9 '16 at 22:57
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    I totally agree with you, I've been meeting a lot of people even from other companies, networking is something I was too afraid to try(since I was out of my comfort zone, different language, different country) until I was a sophomore-almost-junior in college. But I've always felt the need to excel at everything I do. I consider I have high work ethics, and that's why I feel bad cause we can't really reach our potential due to these setbacks. @Kilisi – Just Do It Feb 9 '16 at 23:02
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I'm answering late after reading the comments.

I think you're looking at it slightly wrong in terms of getting a replacement developer and interns.

What I would do in your shoes is divide up and list the time spent on various jobs. Engineering, software support, database and development.

From the comments I gather that what you really need to take the pressure off is a good solid experienced engineer. He/she can take the brunt of the network engineering, with the two developers helping him/her but otherwise concentrating more on development.

I come from an engineering background and have handled well over that number of clients and machines solo at times but I have almost a couple of decades experience. It's not something that's easy to do on your own (because a lot of tasks are timeconsuming), but with backup it can be handled fairly well. I do a lot of support work without ever leaving my office and multi-tasking machines is par for the course.

If your list reflects the same as what I'm thinking, then that is what I would suggest to the boss. I know some developers don't think much of engineers, but I also know for a fact that in terms of efficiency and in depth knowledge of systems and networking, a good experienced engineer is worth every cent.

So do the homework with the hours, take it to the CFO and ask if you can hash out division of responsibilities. Then make a suggestion on what sort of staff you and your colleague feel are needed. But do the homework first. I assume you have a job tracking system, but if not, do estimates as solidly as possible.

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Your CFO is looking to make money for the company. Right now, your suggestion is to spend money. He has no interest in that. You need to show him, how spending money will make money in the long run. Prepare a business case. What would the people you want hire do and how would that benefit the company. What does that mean for the bottom line?

Don't approach him to hire 4 people. Talk to him about the opportunity to make more money, which would require 4 people.

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    It's not just the opportunity to make more money. It's the opportunity to protect against losing money. If being shortstaffed is causing extended system downtime (for whatever reason), that downtime is probably costing the company money somewhere. – alroc Feb 8 '16 at 18:02
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Frame the request in terms of what monetary benefits the company would derive from having the additional staff.

  • If you had an extra developer, perhaps you could finish X project Y months early which would save the company $Z.
  • If you had an extra support person, perhaps you could resolve requests a couple of hours earlier and improve the productivity of other departments.
  • If you had an extra support person, perhaps you could take care of some item that never gets prioritized like applying patches to servers which improves security or stability. Perhaps it would reduce turnover by allowing you to have a less punishing on call rotation.

Figure out what benefits the company would derive from having additional staff, put some sort of dollar figure on that benefit, and present that. Realistically, if you can't come up with benefits or reduced costs that would pay for the fully loaded cost of another person, however, I wouldn't expect the CFO to agree to your proposal.

I would be particularly concerned about asking for 4 interns. I am hard-pressed to imagine a situation where I would want a department to have 4 full-time workers (assuming the CFO hires the additional full-time person) and 4 interns. Supervising an intern takes a fair amount of time and not everyone is good at that so throwing 4 interns into a department you say doesn't have the time to do everything that it needs to do seems like a recipe for unproductive and unhappy interns. Interns are also inherently short-term so you'd spend a fair amount of time orienting them and getting them to understand your processes just to have them disappear. If the department was large enough, you could plausibly offer the better interns full-time positions to keep some of the knowledge in place but that's not realistic in a department this small. If you really need 2 new hires, ask for that rather than asking for a bunch of interns.

Plus, if you are suggesting that you get some unpaid interns to do the work of full-time employees for the benefit of the employer rather than the intern, you'll likely run afoul of labor law on unpaid internships.

  • Not 4 interns, 3. That way each of the full time workers has one intern under his wing, we think that 3 full time employees can be enough to create structure within the department. Here in Mexico interns last around 1 year with the company(if everything goes well) so we would want to rotate them every 3 months, giving them time and the opportunity to learn from each not-yet-created department and then offer a full time position after corresponding interviews – Just Do It Feb 8 '16 at 20:02
  • @JustDoIt - My guess is that you are radically underestimating the amount of time and effort required to supervise an intern and overestimating what that intern would accomplish. So if all 3 interns were good, you'd give them full-time positions after a year? Growing the department from 3 to 7 in 1 year? It is possible that is warranted but you'd obviously need to be able to show a lot of benefit to the company for that sort of thing. – Justin Cave Feb 8 '16 at 20:22
  • sorry, offer one full-time position out of the ones who apply after the year... that's what I meant – Just Do It Feb 8 '16 at 21:09
  • @JustDoIt - So take on 3 interns and set them up in a Darwinian struggle to get the one available position at the end of the year? That does not seem like a good plan-- you're going to radically limit their willingness to work together if they're all essentially competing for one job at the end. – Justin Cave Feb 8 '16 at 21:23
  • If they desire to work for the company. Plus overall performance will be a factor as well, there's gonna be a spot but that doesn't necessarily mean it'll be filled, interviews need to be done as well, and even if they don't get it the experience earned will be great if they want to apply to other companies. I don't get why you shove all this negativity, the technology field as a very competitive one. – Just Do It Feb 8 '16 at 22:10

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