Great IT Shops

This was originally published on Jan 11, 2009.

How many of you think you work for a great company? Hands down. Now how many of you think you have a great IT department? Would you recommend it to a friend?

That’s a great test for me if you work for a great company, if you’d recommend your company to a friend as a place to work. If not, then why not? Recently I found this article on the 10 signs of a great IT shop, and it got me thinking about some of my past employers. I think I’ve been fortunate to work for one great IT department in my career and a few more that were not so hot.

I’ll note that people always ask me what it’s like to work for Red Gate Software, my current employers and do I like them. I do, but I’m like 5,000 miles away so I don’t get to experience much of the company. So I can’t really judge them as an IT shop to work for, especially since I’m not in IT anymore!

There was one company I worked for that was amazing, and it was the largest IT department that I was a part of. Almost everyone liked the company, liked their jobs, and really worked together well. At times it felt a little surreal to me that this large group of people, literally hundreds in IT, were working together. Sure there was bickering and people that didn’t get along, but they were the exception, not the rule.

This is opposed to a few other places I’ve worked where bickering and infighting were the rule. Or a few jobs I’ve had where IT wasn’t really recognized as an extremely valuable part of the company, despite the fact that it was in a few cases. I think that is not as common these days as we incorporate more and more technology into businesses, but 10 or 20 years ago IT was not seen as valuable, though it might have been important.

I don’t necessarily agree with all the signs listed in the article, but I do think that there are few things you need to do to build an IT group that people want to work for, that they’ll go above and beyond for, and that they’ll stick with you over time. A career path is the first thing and it is important, as is the ability to keep people moving on those paths. That might include training, self study, etc, but you have to show a commitment to your people. I’d also say that the company should take advantage of IT as a strategic part of the business and use to gain competitive advantages. And recognize IT when it does so.

So do you work in a great IT shop?

Steve Jones

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