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The company I work for began outsourcing various IT departments earlier this year. The news started to leak about eighteen months ago which set off a mass exit from the company. We steadily lost talented people for a good year and not one of the positions was ever backfilled. The work still came in with the same frequency while the remaining folks just ended up getting abused with more and more work.

A few months ago I found myself all alone, the last remaining member of a team that was slated to be outsourced. I inherited (and did my best to manage/support) every single platform we managed which included our vmware server environment, our EMC storage arrays and NAS heads, Citrix, Networker and vRanger backups, DNS, DHCP, printing, UPS and PDU management, data center related purchase order requests, and being on call for it all 24/7 until further notice.

As if all that wasn’t enough, I became inundated with meeting and conference call invites to meet my new team and managers and to have knowledge transfer and information gathering meetings. Sure, I had nothing else to do with my time, right? I was caught between two companies and two managers, still taking direction from my old manager while my new manager was caught up to speed with how the environment worked. I reached out to both of them asking for help, or a timeline, anything. All I heard was politico speak and how it will get better soon.

After more than four months of non-stop on call, with seldom a night passing without being woken up, I decided to call it quits with nothing lined up. Yep, I was quitting to go to contract work. I was THAT burnt out. Luckily for me, I was immediately rehired on another team at my old company that had not been outsourced. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but the devil you know for more money and less work will always rank higher than temp work with me.

Since I’ve come back to the same company, I’m feeling the pain on the other side of outsourcing. With a back log of thousands of tickets, two week minimum waiting periods for adding hardware, and hour plus waits on the help desk line to put in requests or report issues, it’s hard to imagine how someone could have thought this would be a good idea. If truth be told, this is the stuff most suits either don’t think about, or choose to ignore.

If the sting of slowed productivity wasn’t enough, I also found out from someone involved in the entire outsourcing process that the books were cooked. Our small team managed too much for too little. We were a lean operation and the suits couldn’t put the outsourcing bids and our internally managed numbers together without looking ridiculous. So what did they do? They flat out lied.

They calculated in fictitious operating expenses and added head count that didn’t exist to inflate our costs to be more comparable. Turns out we were still a lot cheaper, but they were able to bump our costs up enough to sell their outsourcing plans to the board. The outsourcing model is the way this company operates and apparently severely overpaying for the ability to pass on your technical woes to somebody else is worth it for them.

Getting to the point of my story…I was driving home this afternoon when I received a call from a manager in my organization. He told me a production server was not responding and started complaining about how it will take two hours to get a simple reboot in our current state with the third party outsourcing company running the show. He was right too. It would have been at least that long and probably longer.

Since I still retained the access I had from my old position, I told him to hang on while I pulled into a local coffee shop parking lot that has WiFi. I connected, VPN’d into the office, connected to the servers DRAC, and gave the server a cold boot while I stood in line for a coffee. When I came back out a few minutes later, I tested the RDP connection then texted him back saying he was back in business.

That’s how things get done, or at least, that’s how it always used to be. I miss those days already.

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