speckytecky (26th March 2010)
I am an NM in a smallish secondary school 750 students. I have been in post coming up to 3 years. When I arrived we were running one server. I have very quickly expanded on this and we now have two DC's, File Server, Exchange Server, Web Server (Centos 5 , Edugeek Joomla pack thankyou), Reporting Server (TeAM), ISA Server, VLE (Centos 5 & StudyWiz). We run PCE, WSUS and EPO and have now Virtualised SIMS.
We have 75 student laptops approx 100 staff laptops and 360 curriculim desktops and 20 admin machines.
Until last year I had 1 Tech (muppet) who we have now replaced with an excellent chap. I go to work each day and feel like I am drowning.When I think about all the things I should be doing regarding documentation etc I realise I am not cutting the mustard. There just never seems to be the time to sit down and plan and document. We need a server we install it, plan to document and it never happens.
It now feels like I am more technician than NM and the two of us seem to be running round firefighting, assisting in classrooms, repairing vandalised kit etc. We constantly have approx 40 tickets on the helpdesk and just never reach the bottom of the pile before we get another 40.
I end up doing things like the web site and server updates etc from home where I can concentrate and work without interruption.
I am just not enjoying it like I used to and am feeling rather stressed which results in me being tetchy and sometimes abrupt with staff when they come to me with more trivia.
I know I am not alone in having such a small team. So how do you cope?
PS The reason I have the time to do this is I have the day off today as I have annual leave to use as I always seem to have projects on in the school holidays.
First thing I did when I got up this morning was update the web site!
speckytecky (26th March 2010)
Have you told your line manager this? It sounds to me as if you probably need another techie, even if it's only part time.
Do you use a helpdesk system or spreadsheet to track the firefighting/work you are getting tied up doing? If so, if it were me, I'd arrange a meeting with my line manager and show him a print out.
We're almost the same size here - about 850 students - and I have 1.5 techies. To be honest we've been very quiet of late so plenty of time for documentation and, er, Edugeek posts
i would speak to the head, and explain your stretched and a part time techie would really lighten the load, then just allocate an hour or two to document if the tickets dont get done so be it. people will get annoyed and go above your head to complain, but with you speaking to the head first you may get another techie
When I first started I felt like I was drowning... the sheer amount of work to do and the catching up that was needed.
I think firstly, ironing out my LMs expectations and meeting them was the first goal - I explained the current situation wasn't great and that I could only hit one area at a time, we just don't have the manpower to get everything done at once.
I do spend alot of time doing things at home I don't have time to do in the day but I have confidence in my fellow techs, I can delegate tasks knowing they will get done. Maybe you can start to delegate to your tech? I understand you don't have huge amounts of time but if it's a means to an end maybe he'll put in a few extra hours, I know alot of people on here will argue that you shouldn't bother giving time outside of work but I disagree if it makes your life easier in the long run.
Since i've started we've 'fixed' alot and got a lot done, I couldn't have done it on my own - had to get the techs in that frame of mind, they were fed-up because it was a situation like yours. Wouldn't say you're rubbish... you feel threatened and you're worried - i'd imagine most NMs are a little bit worried at least - I know I am most of the time!
If you have a continual amount of tickets... has to be a reason for the tickets - see whether documentation given to staff in the first instance to help or whether a solution at your end could stop these tickets? Checking for trends in your tickets can help... e.g., if one person complains YouTube needs the newer Adobe plug-in... you can guess that the rest of the staff will soon ask.
Last edited by dwhyte85; 26th March 2010 at 10:35 AM.
I've got 740 children here and only me. However I don't have the amount of servers that you seem to have.
What gets me is that I seem to come up with some good ideas that could more IT forward within the school but never have the time to implement it.
Regards the helpdesk tickets; sometime you just have to say No.
Keep your chin up, it will get better
My advice is to give yourself a break, prioritise, realise that you can only do so much in a days work and make time outside work for other interests.
If lower priority tasks don't get done then it is not the end of the world and at least you will then have a case for more manpower.
We have pretty much the same amount of stuff/people to support as you and we have a network manager and two techies and it's manageable. If your school decide they can't afford a full time techie, we had an apprentice for a year and he was brilliant! Can't complain at £95 per week and he/she is easier to get rid of if they're not pulling their weight.
We use Spiceworks for our helpdesk and works well. I have mentioned although not officially (CPD not good here) that we are stretched. A lot of issues we have are supporting staff both teachers and admin. Many staff are in need of training but we don't have the time and many just are not interested anyway as it is much easier to ask us to do it.
Why do schools employ people in admin who do not have basic computer skills?
Feeling a bit disaffected and un-appreciated.
Not sure what to say to line manager as money is tight and last year there were redundancies. I do not want to sound like I am whining although when I read this post back I am whining!
i found the way to do the jobs that dont get done is.... just do them... tell them you need more staff from the start. if other stuff suffers then the head & line manager will notice and say why this and why that and just explain that the stuff you are doing NEEDS to be done and that you told them you need more staff but the school is now -
- less liable to get fined for licening issues as you have sorted that
- have a faster network as you have sorted servers out
- has a red bus policy incase the worst happens
- all backup are running properly as there was an issue
- have laid down a 5 year dev plan which will help the school save money and plan
- blah blah
I'm pretty sure it's not that your rubbish!
I think 40 tickets is too many though so you have to look at your systems and where the problems are arising. Can you lock down the staff/student desktops more so they can't break anything. Have you automated your deployments so that you can easily rebuild in the event of problems? Consider using Windows Steady State or Deepfreeze so that a reboot will fix most issues.
The best time to sort things like this out is during the holidays but you should feel free to take a step back and put your tech on fire fighting duty for a while you do some planning.
Last edited by somabc; 26th March 2010 at 10:45 AM.
PC's are locked down tighter than a gnats chuff. I think we are just too helpful and I should say no more often. We end up burning CD's downloading photos off staff cameras setting up projectors in rooms due to timetable c$%&ups at the last minute etc.
We log eveyrthing no matter how trivial so we have a record on the help desk. We have one teacher who will raise 3 tickets minimum every day, title "PC not working". It will invaribly be switched off at the mains or some little darling will have unplugged the network cable, but no matter how many times we show her how to remedy these simple things she just refuses to do it herself. I am sure you have all got one of these.
On of the issue we do have is staff laptops on which we were forced to give admin rights, the agreement being that we could bill staff £30.00 to put right any fault that had been caused by them downloading virus/trojan etc by using P2P software or questionable surfing habits. Yet to have a bill payed and they wont let us remove admin rights. Roll on BSF!
I would just prioritise the jobs as you think fit, but remember you cannot keep everyone happy all of the time.
No job is worth getting ill over.
I would say you need another tech then. We were the same, a NM & me as a tech. The NM was doing techie stuff as well & if I do say so myself the network & services were good to great. But we were treading water & not moving on. Since getting another tech we have slowly been catching up, getting documentation, policies & plans sorted & are hoping to get round to future plans soon.
One school I know managed to create more time by instead of hiring a tech hiring an admin assistant. That way they had someone to sort all the paperwork side, helpdesk entries, phone answering type stuff, leaving the NM & tech to get on with teh techie stuff.
We have 850 kids, less servers, we only have 5 and about 500 machines around the school (laptops and PC's), there are two of us at the moment, there getting rid of one of us at the start of summer, its buisy enough as it is, its going to be hecktick for whoever stays.
Oh boy do I know how you feel.
We're quite a small school with regards to staff and students, but we have more Devices than a lot of larger schools I know of - over 600 end user devices and 11 servers. I had a team of two techs and myself as network manager until October, when one of my Techs left. It's now just me and my one remaining tech, and I am effectively now a glorified technician as in order to keep up it's necessary to do this.
This means that virtually any documentation or admin tasks have gone out the window since October e.g I recently got asked for an up-to-date asset register, but that's not been updated since the 2nd tech left. I'm supposed to be responsible for the website and the Learning platform, which I enjoy doing, but never get the time to devote to them and a million and one other things. At the end of the day thou you can't perform miracles, you make a choise either way - either the end users suffer a little so you get the time to do the jobs you need to do, or the admin and documentation suffer in order to please end users, but it's virtually impossible to do both in the position you're in.
I try my best not to get too stressed as there's only so much you can do, and I find regular E-mails to senior management to make them aware of your workload are quite effective, and refering any complaints you get regarding quality of service to senior management works as well. As long as you're doing you best, you can't do more than that!
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