Thursday, June 4, 2009

Little things I learned about working in IT in the government

A blog/forum I frequent listed 10 dirty little secrets you should know about working in IT. I experienced some of the things in the list. Here's my own:
The salary grade in IT is better compared to many other positions. The pay for IT professionals is better than the ridiculously low salary grade they give to other positions. In the Philippine government, Information Technology Officers are 1-2 salary grades higher than other officers, although they are still paid lower than those in the private sector.
It will be your fault when users make silly errors. This will happen often. It is human nature (or public sector nature) to blame others for their own "kapalpakan".  This happens often when you introduce a new  hardware or software system that is beyond their comfort zone.
You will go from goat to hero and back again multiple times within any given day. When you are able to fix the silly error they make (see previous) - you are instantly a hero, that is until their next silly mistake.
Your co-workers will use you as personal tech support for their home PCs. Your co-workers will treat you as their personal technical support personnel for their home PCs. They will ask you about how to deal with the virus on their personal PC; ask you how to upload photos and videos, etc. A sufficiently higher officer on the pecking order can even ask you to install wi-fi in his home.
Managers and consultants are quick to take all the credit when things work well and will blame you when things go wrong. Like in the blog/forum, consultants here will try to put the blame on you by arguing that their solution works great elsewhere so it must be a problem with the local IT infrastructure. Managers, on the other hand, curiously, are often on the consultants' side and will try to adjust local processes to accomodate the consultants. Managers always try to save face and their hide before the really big bosses.
You’ll spend far more time babysitting old technologies than implementing new ones. This is related to the next one. The Philippines, despite the onset of technological advances, still maintain a lot of legacy systems. IT personnel spend a lot of time maintaining established technologies than implementing new ones. One reason is the budget, there is simply no new money to acquire the newer technologies. Another reason is some older people do not want to wander away from their comfort zones.
Veteran IT professionals are often the biggest roadblock to implementing new technologies. Sometimes, upgrading or replacing software or infrastructure is more cost effective. However, one of the largest roadblocks to migrating to new technologies is not the budget; it’s the veteran techies in the IT department. Once they have something up and running, they are reluctant to change it. You can't teach old dogs new tricks. Specially when they are downright and comfortable where they are.
Some IT professionals deploy technologies that do more to consolidate their own power than to help the business. When they don't want to wander off their comfort zone, they secure it further. Some IT managers implement technologies based on how well those technologies make the agency dependent on them.
IT pros use jargon to confuse nontechnical managers and hide the fact that they screwed up. All IT pros screw things up once in a while. However, not all IT pros, as the blog suggest are good at admitting when they make a mistake. Much more the Filipino. Given that many top managers are not techie enough, IT pros use jargon to confuse them (and cover up the truth) when explaining a problem. The irony is the jargon is equally confusing to the older (veteran) IT pros who use them. A perfect case of the blind leading the blind.


  1. Anonymous5:36 PM

    Perry... I definitely agree...

  2. Thanks, Anon. We've worked together, right?



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