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The Situation

The company is a start-up, and is approaching the 50-employee milestone.

We have an IT Guy who handles hardware for the entire company - workstations, on-site and off-site servers, you name it. He often works odd hours due to the need to take down infrastructure that we rely on during the day, which means he is often unavailable to address problems that arise during the workday. Small problems, such as a dying PC fan, that should be fairly easy to deal with go unaddressed for months, if he ever gets around to them. Larger issues, like upgrading a dev server, may get held up for months. In other words, there's too much work for one IT person to accomplish, even if they regularly work 50-60 hours/week.

Every time anyone mentions hiring a second IT person to him, IT Guy clams up. So far, there hasn't been a productive conversation with him about getting, for example, a junior IT person to take over the small, day-to-day stuff.

Upper management is not ready to press the issue. Basically, when IT Guy clams up, they let it slide. They've done this so often that my manager won't even bother bringing it up.

Now the clincher. I'm not a management employee, just one of the programmers.

The Question

As a non-management employee directly affected by IT Guy not being able to cover his responsibilities, what can I do to try to get upper management to do something to address the problem?

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    Approach your own manager. Show specifically how your productivity, and hence his department's productivity, is impared when IT assistance is slow. Do not make any accusations against the individual, do not make any demands, just quietly point out that some investment in that area might improve the company's profitability. Taking it beyond that's your manager's responsibility. – keshlam Feb 29 '16 at 23:04
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    To add to the comment by @keshlam, there's also a massive risk here. If he leaves, there is a lot of knowledge walking out the door. – Jane S Feb 29 '16 at 23:06
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    Right, @Jane. Or, to use the classic phrase, if he is hit by a bus. No company larger than a three-man shop should ever be in the position of being unable to survive losing someone. If he's critical, you need to replicate his skills. If that makes him feel threatened, (a) you're already in trouble, and (b) you may be able to salve his ego by "promoting" him to Head Of IT or something of that sort. – keshlam Feb 29 '16 at 23:12
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    An understaffed startup IT department (or person) shouldn't be fixing PC fans, that should be a warranty repair. Adding a second $100,000 (including benefit load) IT person costs the company $2000/employee/year - enough to buy everyone a new computer every year. – Johnny Mar 1 '16 at 3:54
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    We have an on-site repair contract for all of our desktops and office servers, Opening an online support ticket gets someone out the next day to fix it. My point is that the IT guy should not be getting tied up in simple tasks that could easily be outsourced - like fixing failed hardware. – Johnny Mar 1 '16 at 16:27
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Upper management is not ready to press the issue. Basically, when IT Guy clams up, they let it slide. They've done this so often that my manager won't even bother bringing it up.

As a non-management employee directly affected by IT Guy not being able to cover his responsibilities, what can I do to try to get upper management to do something to address the problem?

Management has decided (for whatever reason) that this isn't an issue worth solving. Thus, there isn't likely much you can do about it directly.

That said, your best course of action is likely to document and point out each instance where you are directly affected.

If your computer is out of commission, and the IT Guy isn't able to get to it in a timely manner, then tell your boss about it. If you indicate that you are sitting on your hands due to IT often enough, it might get management attention.

Make sure you let at least your boss know every time this happens, and how much productivity you lose each time.

Perhaps, the next time budget planning occurs, the issue will be addressed. Perhaps not.

8

Given the circumstances, there's not a whole lot for you to do. Obviously you should tell your manager every time there's a delay or other problem that you are waiting on the IT guy to solve. It will escalate far more quickly if you are 100% blocked from doing anything.

As the problems pile up, management will take notice and eventually solve the problem. The amount of time this takes is dependent on how back logged the IT guy really is.

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    Not just tell your manager, but document it. A folder with emails is fine (you can drag them to your desktop and then zip them); a spreadsheet is better. Document the start and end date of the incident, nature of the issue, hours lost directly or indirectly, and any workarounds that were used in the meantime. – Pedro Mar 1 '16 at 3:16
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Don't push this too far, it's not your business. If you have an issue with the machine you use, then pressure for that to get fixed. Complaining overall about the IT guy not being able to handle his job, however well meant is not going to go down well with some people. You may not be aware of all the facts.

I handle much more than 50 machines, servers and peripherals in multiple locations without too many problems except for those times when everything decides to break at once, and even then I handle it.

Mention it to your manager if you feel the need, but I would advise not taking it further than that. This is an issue that management are already aware of, it's up to them to fix it, not you.

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