Organizing an IT department

Posted on 2007-10-08
Last Modified: 2008-11-07
I'm currently the head of the IT department for a small/medium business and I was looking for tips to organize all the random crap that is lying around. Software, software boxes, license information, hardware boxes, old backup tapes we don't even have the hardware to read anymore, old zip disks with backups from 4 years ago, cables, etc. There were a couple of guys before me that were very unorganized and I'd like to clean the place up in some manor. Just looking for some tips that people might use when in similar positions.
Question by:theamazing2eyedman
    LVL 28

    Expert Comment

    I think you are ready for the invsion of the body snatchers -
    read all about process improvement at

    it enables organisations to have a process for everything and so organise you stuff - seriously, if your organisation hasn't got a view or process on what to do with backups and bits of hardware then they need CMMI (its also good for the CV)

    I know I sound like a preacher but - watch this "What is CMMI?"  on the website and maybe you'll convert...

    LVL 8

    Accepted Solution

    On Organizing:

    It is easier to keep up than to have to catch up.
    quote by Unknown.

    Software- is it current or should it be in the round archive container,
    software boxes - is it current or should it be in the round archive container,
    license information - file it this you need now and for comparing it to the new,
    hardware boxes - toss it,
    old backup tapes we don't even have the hardware to read anymore- toss it,
    old zip disks with backups from 4 years ago- toss it,
    cables - save if cat 5 etc
    LVL 1

    Expert Comment

    Hire a skip ;-)  (or a dumpster if you are American


    Or recycle it properly
    LVL 1

    Assisted Solution

    The problem with processes is that when failure to follow them doesn't interfer with things working, they get ignored. Not throwing away old tapes doesn't stop the current backups working.

    We have a similar problem, we are due to move buildings, in the new building IT will have far less storage space. I have thrown away about three skips worth of old documents, hardware from before I was born and other accumilated crap.
    As a manager you are in a position to enforce some discipline on your workers, once you have actually got rid of the previous stuff, you should be in a position keep it fairly well under control.
    One of the issues I have had is deciding what to keep, partly due to the fact that as a lowly worker bee, I felt I couldn't always make an executive decision. Maybe you need to encourage your employees to come foward if they aren't sure whether to keep something for you to make the decision? Perhaps have a 'Getting rid of old stuff' section in your team meeting where people list what they have to decide on.
    Process does have a part to play with disposing of stuff with value. An old PC may have a small value if disposed of quickly, but the longer it is left the more it costs to get rid of it. Maybe set up a quarterly agreement with a company to collect old hardware from you?
    Consumables like tapes can have a specified shelf life, decide on your backup policy and then get rid of tapes once they reach an agreed age, which normally doesn't actually need to be that old. Restore requests are very rarely from more than a month or two ago and if you ever needed to do a full system restore you will wan the newest ones. (laws and regulations etc. may effect how long you need to keep stuff tho)
    Software, copy the disks onto a software repositary server. No-one ever reads the manuals, so they can go out with the boxes straight away. Make sure you have some centralised method of recording the licensing details.

    At the end, its really down to being disciplined and keeping your team disciplined. Maybe reduce the amount of space you have to store stuff, make sure people put stuff back so it doesn't sit in their desk drawers.
    LVL 22

    Assisted Solution

    if you're taking over from people who were bad at organization in the past first step is to dump as much of the crap as you can. if you have tapes you can read they're not going to be of much use. they make great hockey pucks.

    Once you've cleaned down to the stuff that you can keep, start an inventory. Some of this can be automated with the right software. Most of if is going to be manual, especially if you're an SMB.  This should be a full hardware and software inventory of all gear from network hardware down to printers and fax machines.  Many times you'll find that the software CD's you have are for software already installed on a computer and at that point get an external hard drive or some network storage and just keep an image of the disc rather than the disc itself.

    There are a number of free/open inventory software packages that can amek some of the tracking easier OCS Inventory is a good project. Just do a google search,GGLJ:2006-18,GGLJ:en&q=open+source+inventory+software

    You can use such inventory software to keep track of who has what software installed and the different license information as well as keep track of what hardware is suppsoed to be where.

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