IT Operations vs IT Projects

Does your IT department understand the different between IT Operations and IT Projects?

It has taken a while but I’m beginning to understand the necessity of separating those two concepts, with the goal of being able to excel at each.


The IT Department at my company has grown, and while statistically it has kept pace with the growth of the company, realistically when looking at staff utilization and slipping deadlines there is definitely room for improvement.

When I started in 2005, I was the second IT staff member. Between my co-worker and myself all IT responsibilities were handled; from user support up to infrastructure planning, purchasing and maintenance.

It wasn’t until January 2012 that we added and additional staff member to assist with IT Support; by this time the company was pushing 400 employees across 6 locations.

Due to the fact there were only 3 of us, there were still a large amount of shared responsibilities; despite looking after all of our infrastructure I never hesitated to assist with a minor excel problem. And for a company that only has 3 IT staff members and isn’t growing that may not be a problem.

However now in 2013 we’re at 5 people (two IT Support, one Jr System Admin and 2 System Admins) and are beginning to see the error of sharing responsibilities when it crosses the concepts of IT Operations and IT Projects.

Inevitably, IT Operations takes priority; if your revenue generating department demands an upgrade to the latest version of AutoCAD, and it’s approved (or already purchased), chances are effort is going to be made to complete that task. If the person responsible for that task is also trying to implement some new project (like FTP site replacement or Exchange upgrade or Hyper-V management, etc) it is highly likely the IT Project is going to be pushed back.

For IT Operations to be excellent, those staff need to focus on IT Operations. For IT Projects to be excellent (on-time and on-budget), those staff need to not be distracted by user support and install requests.

At the same time, I would say there still needs to be some overlap in one direction. Those working in IT Operations may benefit from inclusion in small IT Projects; to challenge their skills and allow for growth, learning and mentorship. It is motivating to be given some responsibility that is more than break-fix work.


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