So I have work in this 100 person company, and I am part of the only 3 technology (a subset of operation department) staff.

It has come to the point where everything falls into our department. For example, if microwave doesn't work, it falls into our department cause it has buttons and an LED display.

But the number one issue I have is that whenever the copy machine or printer needs ink changed they come to me where I "normally" handles programming/software support.

In your company does change copy toner falls into technology or you have like an office manager who does this. I guess to the higher ups that we get an "Operations Coordinator" to do all the "non-technology" what do you guys say?

  • Be glad you are at least in a technology department. This is the role I have in every role I have at a company, regardless of not being in a "tech support" type of role. I'm the "can make technology work and therefore can solve all problems which involve technology" guy. I've even had previous bosses come to me with questions... – enderland Nov 20 '12 at 19:24
  • From what I hear our company used to treat IT in a similar way before I joined, IT did stuff like put paper in the shredder. Instead we had the maintenance staff trained to do stuff like that, or trained departments how to handle simple stuff (loading paper) themselves. I wasn't hear for the actual implementation though. I would suggest something like that. – Rarity Nov 20 '12 at 19:47
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    Are you looking for help solving a problem or just taking a poll if your situation sucks... because your situation does suck but that is not a constructive question for this SE. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Nov 20 '12 at 20:13
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    Go make a case to the boss. Ask him if it makes sense to have the person getting paid $50/hr do a job that can often be handled by a person making $10/hr. – Zoredache Nov 23 '12 at 2:16

I'm upvoting this as I specialize in a portion of IT, and therefore I'm not "The IT Guy" that's usually stereotypical of people to coin me as.

I haven't worked on generalized computer hardware or software in a troubleshooting role in a long time. My specialty involves healthcare information technology, though in every company I've worked for I've been clumped into generalized IT.

Far too often to I find myself being confronted with employees asking me to re-image their computer, run virus scans, fix their email accounts, etc. Not only do I not have the ability(security-wise) to do this, but I haven't worked in this arena in so long that I wouldn't know what's going on if I tried.

Much like patients going to a hospital and not expecting the medical records personnel, nurses, janitors, etc to be employees holding MD's, or vice-versa for the credentialing. Employees shouldn't expect every person in "IT" to know everything about computers. It's too broad of a generalization. It's why the field has specialties - and it is a personal pet-peeve of mine, as about 90% of my job is specialty related and 10% of it is computer related.

In closing, you shouldn't be changing out toner cartridges as a programmer. From a personal perspective I'd consider this as a slap in the face as far as knowledge goes. From a business perspective you don't need a programmer on payroll wasting their time doing mundane IT tasks that an intern could do - or better yet, with proper employee training that anyone could do.

  • That seems to be what my boss is trying to do, but there is a lot of resistance from boss above his pay grade. Somehow, I have to figure a way to convey this to them. – MCHam Nov 21 '12 at 15:38
  • @MCHam I'm not sure how large your company is(monetary-wise) - but seeing as you're in a developer position, if it's anything more than a few projects then you should have a Project Manager. The Project Manager should be able to show and allocate for investments the company is making within the bounds of paying it's developers and the length of the project. Companies talk "money", that's all they understand. Putting this into a monetary format you could show how negative the impacts would be for you doing work that doesn't consist of the projects that are demanding your attention. – SQLSavant Nov 21 '12 at 17:37

In your company does change copy toner falls into technology or you have like an office manager who does this. I guess to the higher ups that we get an "Operations Coordinator" to do all the "non-technology" what do you guys say?

Just to give my background here, I work in a post-secondary educational institution where there are various departments that can cover pieces of this. There are people within the department that would handle basic office supplies, facilities management is a separate group for the cases of desks and shelves, and then there is an IT department that can be for other stuff in some cases.

Depending on the issue, I would refer if another department would be better to handle the request or if not then I'd try to do it myself. Part of being in IT can mean that a lot of calls come to you and somewhere in the process is the idea of passing along the message that, "The company may be better served by having other staff handle these kinds of requests," though this has to be stated rather diplomatically and with tact.


You are in such a small organization that anyone in an IT-related position is going to have to wear many hats.

That said, you do need some boundaries & a prioritization queue. If your primary function is programming/software support, a random person from Corporate Accounts Payable shouldn't be able to come to your desk and stand over you demanding that the toner in the copier be refilled while you're trying to get a critical problem solved, or a new version of a piece of software rolled out to production.

What you need is someone to take these requests, get them logged, prioritized, and assigned to the right people. A deflector of sorts. And your manager must be made aware anytime these sorts of requests are taking enough time away from your other assignments that deadlines or quality are going to slip. If a person can't be appointed for this, perhaps a web-based ticketing system where people can submit their requests so that they aren't sent directly to your inbox, or people coming right to your desk interrupting you. Everyone in your group would then share responsibility for managing these requests.

In my company (about 3 dozen people in IT, 200 or so people total in this office), the IT department does not usually take care of toner & paper refills (our mailroom, who also take care of office supplies typically handle it), but if asked to they usually will.

Something like a broken microwave shouldn't fall on you "just because it gets plugged in" - in larger offices, that's handled by a maintenance or building services department. There should be a general office manager who handles calling the appropriate people (typically on service contracts) to make repairs - these folks often typically handle the weekly office supply orders that are fulfilled by Staples and the like. If an employee can't figure out how to operate a microwave oven and need instruction from the IT staff, perhaps that individual shouldn't be operating the device in the first place. If it's broken, it should be replaced or repaired - with that call coming from whoever is responsible for managing the upkeep of the building/space.

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