It’s hard to believe, I know, but today marks the 10 month mark of working at the law firm instead of being the one man IT Department that I was before. It seems about as good a time as any to do a little reflecting on the plusses and minuses to working as part of a team in a larger environment as opposed to being on your own.
I’d have to say that in terms of resources, both technical and in the shared knowledge of the team, there’s absolutely no comparison. There’s simply no way a solo IT person could know as much or take care of as many things as a team of 14 can. So that’s a plus for me that I have enjoyed tremendously.
As an aside though, this plus for me has had a cost. My on-line persona has been hit hard by this new arrangement. It used to be that this site and various other on-line resources were an integral part of my day to day work life. The Internet, specifically the blogosphere, became my network and knowledge base to help me accomplish or learn about what I needed to know. Now, there’s a whole team of folks that have become my network, and I’m supporting a much larger user base on a much more varied technology base. While all of my on-line efforts are still important to me, there is simply less time available to them than there used to be, and I know it shows.
Anyway, back to my main point. Despite all the wonderful knowledge and exposure to different areas I’m getting, there are still some things to consider if you’re ever faced with such a move. One is the communication barrier. Let’s face it, when you’re a one-man shop you really don’t have to communicate all that much. Yes, a good IT person needs to know how to communicate with end-users in any situation, but you really don’t have other IT folks that you need to communicate things to. You need to make a change on the network that might affect some end-users, you make it, and the person supporting the end users already knows it was made. In a team environment, that doesn’t always happen. There have been occasions where we at the help desk have been faced with numerous calls about a problem that was introduced by a change that we didn’t know had occurred in the first place. That makes troubleshooting the cause of the problem rather difficult sometimes, and can be quite frustrating. On the other hand, we also have to make sure we’re communicating with the network folks or software developers when we start to see a trend, so that they know there’s a problem that might require their attention. Not communicating that trend can lead to a much bigger problem down the road.
Of course, if you really want to “be all you can be” in terms of learning how to communicate and be part of a team working together professionally, then this situation may be exactly what you’re looking for. In a one-man shop you’ll simply never have the opportunity to do a whole lot of team projects and experience all of the dynamics that go along with those. If you don’t do well working with others, especially when they fail your expectations, because at times they will, then maybe you should consider continuing where you are. There’s something to be said for doing it yourself and knowing how everything is being done. I can’t deny that.
I’m sure I’ll have more observations as I close out the last two months until my one year anniversary.
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