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Job Transitions: From Vendor to Customer

This is a discussion on Job Transitions: From Vendor to Customer within the Certification & Career forums, part of the Tech Support Forum category. Hello there. I hope everyone reading this is doing fine and I appreciate any advice on what I am about

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Old 10-26-2015, 09:49 PM   #1
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Hello there. I hope everyone reading this is doing fine and I appreciate any advice on what I am about to describe.

I am in the process of transitioning to a new job next week the gist of which goes as follows. I worked for a POS software vendor for 10+years supporting clients of varying sizes from mom and pop to small/medium enterprise level clients.

Out of the blue, one of the larger clients, a client with 20ish restaurant sites, asked me to come over and be their IT Dept Head. They don't really have a true IT Dept per se and they are creating this position for me and have said I could have a lot of freedom to make this position what I want it to be(~70%+ of it will be defined but there will be some leeway to make it what I want- website dev, mobile apps, email, etc).

Currently, they have 3-4 employees who work with the POS system as well as their local network and some company wide support on email, laptops, tablets, etc. These employees come from more of an admin/accounting background than a true tech/IT background so none of them are particularly savvy with technology and computers. For their corp HQ, where 20ish people work , they outsource any hardware issues which is fine by me(I am not hired to take care of hw issues) as well as their email. For the 20ish restaurant sites, my old co. will continue to handle all hw support as well as much software support. i will be the liaison between new co and old in this regard and decide what calls need to be dispatched to them.

They currently have a number of issues- a primary one is with getting their sales data to their directors and C level officers in a timely manner and I have been tasked with getting this process streamlined and working consistently, among other things. This process involves the transfer of dbf files created by the POS software I have supported for the 10+ years to another software that in turn takes this data and imports it to a cloud based .Net program that creates their sales flash reports.

I know the POS software really well and the company and the 3-4 primary folks I'll be working with well and I think I know the company culture OK. I guess my question is does anyone have any advice? I am concerned about the lack of definition in the job and I will be working from home which is new to me and I want to be visible while not being overbearing. I am getting a week's worth of training in this 2nd software in Dec thankfully to improve the process. the batch files we're currently utilizing to transfer data need to be re-written if not completely done away with for a better alternative. We seem to have issues with the batch files and Windows Task Scheduler- every day there are 1-5 sites that do not poll the sales data.

So thanks for reading this diatribe and I'd appreciate any advice and pitfalls to avoid. Also, any pointers on how to lead a small IT dept with non-IT people, people who are well established in their jobs and who you've worked with as a vendor supporting them for 5-10 years?

THanks for all help!
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Old 10-26-2015, 11:22 PM   #2
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I suppose as a secondary question with this:

If you were coming into this situation as the Technical Director(speaking of, what's a good job title? I'm not a fan of IT Dept Head per se), and you were more or less taking over responsibility for around 50 office PCs including 20 POS servers, 200 or so POS terminals, who knows how many tablets and laptops, and a boatload of printers how would you start you "public relations" approach? And what kind of policies would you implement company wide to help boost the security and integrity of their infrastructure?

I have the company I used to work for to provide support for the POS terminals, but I'd like to roll out some procedures regarding their browsing habits(eventually need to get firewalls in with blacklists, etc) to help prevent malware issues. Dealing with mostly Win7 Pro 32bit OS....trying to make sure Sec Essentials is on everything, install EMET, make sure OS has all updates for starters.

Any other tips are welcome. Just walking into this and trying to figure out where to start and figured some of you had some experience in this and might be able to offer some advice.

Thanks again.
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Old 10-28-2015, 09:34 AM   #3
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I've moved from a vendor role into a permanent hire position twice. Both times I was asked, and both times the transition went well. That said, I didn't have anyone reporting directly to me, but I was in a senior tech role. I was respected before the transition, and I was just as respected after the transition. If you're good at what you do, coworkers will understand why you were chosen for the position.

IT Manager or Director of IT (or any other similar variation, such as Technical Manager or Technical Director) would be appropriate titles.

Would anyone be reporting directly to you (where you would be their direct supervisor/boss)? If not, it doesn't sound like there's much reason to worry about "public relations". But if you do, and even if someone else was expecting to move into that position, it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that you would be taking the role - after all, the people who currently do the IT work are admin/accounting types, not techs, as you say.

Having a "70% defined" role is not a big deal. The most important issue, regardless of job definition, is that the company believes that they are getting fair value from your work for what they are paying you. If that's good, nothing else matters (well, as long as you enjoy the job).

When working from home, communication is key. That said, don't overdo it. Micromanagement isn't necessary as long as things get done in a timely fashion. The worst thing you can do with productive employees is to micromanage them to death.

Also, I wouldn't recommend turning the world upside down from day 1. People don't like it when you lock down browsing habits tighter than a duck's butt. That said, reasonable controls are possible. The key here is to get senior management involved with those policy decisions - for two reasons: one, so you don't come off looking like the bad guy, and two, so you have support when it comes to enforcing those decisions. This is true for ANY policy decisions.

As far as what kind of policies would I implement... provided I had senior management's blessing, I would lock down ONLY dangerous or harmful sites. Why lock people out of benign sites as long as the job gets done? For example, it's not my decision to lock all employees out of Facebook or ESPN... but if another department's manager - or the CEO - doesn't want THEIR employees doing it, I can implement that FOR THEM. See what I mean? ;)

I had good results with WebSense (web filtering) years ago, when I was responsible for network administration for a 500-user company.

Please don't be that guy who says, "it's not my job to take care of hardware issues". It's your job to support the company in whatever way you can. That doesn't mean to put off your other responsibilities just to do basic IT work that any warm body could do... but that also doesn't mean that you should refuse to fix a printer and retreat to your ivory tower, either. When I was in that senior network admin role, there were MANY days that I helped the help desk staff out with basic stuff that needed to be done. If you want to be respected by your staff, help them out when they need it, and don't ask them to do anything that you wouldn't be willing to do. That makes someone a good manager. Just my opinion. :)

Speaking of hardware support - if you use your "old company" for more than 40 hours of hardware support, you need to discontinue their services and hire someone to do it for the "new company". It'll save the company money in the long term (big hint - that's why your "new company" wants to hire YOU directly).

Hope this helps address most of your points. :)
BosonMichael / Senior Content Developer, Boson Software
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Old 10-30-2015, 12:32 PM   #4
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Thanks for all the advice, BosonMichael.

Some good stuff to heed there.
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