SysAdmin Appreciation Day: “This is broken. Can you fix it?”
Being a sysadmin can be a thankless task. In honor of System Administrator Appreciation Day, we spoke to CEO of SysAid Sarah Lahav about the relationship between IT and the rest of the company, the problems sysadmins sometimes face, and the outlook for the future. Read on to find out more.
Despite the advent of DevOps and the overall increased awareness of IT in business, working in IT can still feel like you’re invisible and unappreciated. Here at JAXenter, we are very eager to help bring such topics to the fore. So because it’s SysAdmin Day, we’d like to say a big THANK YOU to all the sysadmins out there. To celebrate, we spoke to Sarah Lahav from SysAid Technologies Ltd. about how to strengthen relationships with your IT team.
JAXenter: Why is it important for organizations to have a strong relationship with their IT team?
Sarah Lahav: It’s important for organizations to have a strong relationship with IT because every business has become an IT business. Whether you sell software and electronics or hammers and nails, there are IT people who help bring it to market. Never has IT had such an important role in strategizing and enabling product development, sales, marketing, HR, and other core functions.
JAXenter: It can sometimes feel as though the IT team is working in a closed-off silo. What are some communication techniques or some best team practices that could help to strengthen the relationship between the IT team and the rest of the organization?
Sarah Lahav: Often, the relationship between IT and the rest of the organization is strained, as my team captured in this Disney-inspired movie trailer for System Administrator Appreciation Day. The conversation tends to be limited to, “This is broken. Can you fix it?”
Organizations should institute a monthly conversation between IT leaders and other department heads. They need an opportunity to speak face-to-face about requirements, pain points, vision, and strategy. With that dialogue in place, you’ll start to see IT expand beyond its silo and play a key role in major projects.
JAXenter: How are the mindsets of sysadmins different from those of developers?
Sarah Lahav: It depends on the industry, but developers tend to be involved in product development and R&D. Sysadmins focus on the organization-wide systems that enable developers (and many others) to do their jobs. For example, sysadmins would focus on how to provide developers with test environments that are fast to set up and cost-efficient. The developers would be end users for those test environments.
JAXenter: Do you feel like DevOps has helped IT teams become more visible than ever before?
Sarah Lahav: Yes, because DevOps sits within IT. When IT is invisible, it’s only because it doesn’t know how to speak to the business. DevOps made IT more visible because it placed IT on the critical path between operations and business. IT is now responsible for taking feedback from the business and cycling it back into R&D.
I want sysadmins treated with greater dignity. That, in turn, requires sysadmins to put themselves out there and take some credit for their successes.
JAXenter: Are sysadmins already a part of DevOps efforts?
Sarah Lahav: Many sysadmins who want to advance in IT choose to become part of DevOps. However, DevOps is a different kind of beast, and not all sysadmins fit into its culture. With that said, as long as DevOps is the cool kid on the block, sysadmins will identify themselves with it (as they should).
JAXenter: What would you like to see improve by next System Administrator Appreciation Day?
Sarah Lahav: By next System Administrator Appreciation Day, I’d like to see survey results showing that sysadmins feel more appreciated and happier at work. A survey my company conducted in late 2018 found that 72 percent of IT people felt undervalued. Over half of respondents also felt that working in IT adversely affected their personal well-being.
IT is not adept at marketing itself, and end users really don’t understand the skills and hard work that goes into making their systems work. I want sysadmins treated with greater dignity. That, in turn, requires sysadmins to put themselves out there and take some credit for their successes.
Thank you very much!