When times are tough …
“When times are tough IT gets beaten hard” –Rolf von Roessing
When times are hard IT is the first to take the heat. Budget cuts, “rightsizing” (which always equals downsizing) and a mandate to do more with less is in order. And let us not forget outsourcing which of course costs less, provided there is still someone there, the key person, to inform the outsourcer and interface with the rest of the organization. Most likely that person jumped away upon seeing the iceberg and not after the hit.
So what do we get after this? We get a lower budget for the next year (hence a success!), poorly documented systems for which there is no one around to ask details about (and guess when will you need this tiny bit of missing detail) and systems that must continue to operate with large portions of them unpatched, unmaintained and halted not following the normal upgrade path of their cycle. This operations nightmare can easily become a security one too.
And what about training your staff? Training is spending and thus cut. After all, staff is supposed to freely dig the Net and find out appropriate answers. For that is the best it will get, answers, not training. No one will stop staff being trained on their personal time and budget, but not on company time. “What if we train them and they leave?”. Is that sensible? How about not training them and see how far they can go.
Management avoids errors of commission by making errors of omission that have hidden costs which appear further in time, in most unexpected circumstances and of course at a time when the responsible one for the chain of events has left the helm. But then again management stays less time in office than those who foresee such errors and easily silences them in an uneven power game.
All that is left are the system administrators, developers and security guys still on board trying to clean up the mess. Sometimes you have to spend your way up, but almost always management interprets this like a supernova: They keep absorbing amounts of energy (budget) trying to keep doing their thing avoiding evolution (organized abandonment) like dinosaurs. I used to dislike Rand’s advice about when to jump ship, but he is certainly correct.