Posted by: Suzanne Wheeler
At Usenix ’08, held in Boston June 22-27, many system administrators bemoaned the newfound emphasis on worker productivity, complaining that their bosses’ attempts to measure their work has in fact hindered their work. Managers are requiring productivity reports on a weekly or monthly basis, and administrators grumbled that it has been difficult to convey the amount of work they had done in such increments.
Some administrators, such as the “Automated Systems Management” session‘s moderator and worldwide open source lecturer Æleen Frisch, said the work reports are “painful, but ultimately a good thing.” Another attendee, however, was utterly frustrated with them, saying that he had to take five hours to complete a report, then include those five hours in the report.
The admins in the session suggested that the struggling developer set up a ticket system to keep closer track of his work activity and recommended Request Tracker and Jira for the task. The Best Practical website offers additional task management solutions.
Another suggestion was to engage in more active communication with a boss. There was some widespread grumbling in the session about distrust from managers about what exactly developers are doing with their time. Aside from creating reports, developers and managers need to communicate more honestly with one another. If that fails, they should find a job where their skills and judgment are valued.
The “Automated System Management” session also covered the role of documentation in purchasing decisions. It is difficult for IT managers to know which purchases are necessary and which are not without an accurate inventory of what runs on each system, Frisch said.
To maximize efficiency in an enterprise setting, both IT managers and their developers might establish not only better automation procedures but also a consistent and mutually satisfying method of communication about all work done on company operating system(s).