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How Many People Work in Your Internet Department? 255

WorkinTooHard asks: "Two years ago, I took the job of Internet Marketing Manager for a international company, with a crazy idea that I could convince senior management that the internet wasn't a fad. The only problem was that I didn't expect a (respected) mid-level manager to be the road block. We are in the middle of a major website redesign (the current site has not been updated in over 8 years) and everyone is asking why it takes so long to complete, and almost daily I have to explain that I do not have enough manpower. Of course, I can't prove ROI until the new site is launched (a great Catch22). How many people do you have working in/on your company's Internet/Intranet and Extranet sites and applications? How many full-time web-application developers, content providers, analytics people, UI designers, email marketing people, and so forth?"
"Please note that this includes anyone who works directly in building and maintaining your companies current website, electronic marketing and Internet applications. If you can, include the size of your company, number of employess, the number of active products being sold/supported, and how much outsourcing you do? The company I am currently working for has over 13,000 active products and over 30,000 products which need to be supported. We do no outsourcing, have over 900 employess in North America (over 8000 worldwide) and a total of 2 full time web developers, 1 part time developer/SQL guru and 1 content/data person as well as two people in our MarCom office which periodically write copy."
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How Many People Work in Your Internet Department?

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  • Push Back (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ( 960072 ) * on Friday March 24, 2006 @06:32PM (#14991344)
    I'm not sure whether to answer the actual question asked, or the implicit call for help....

    Anything that people don't understand, they tend to generalize and make higher level models of the underlying processes. I think it'd be beneficial for this manager to sit in on a couple design meetings and/or code reviews so that he can get a feel for all that is involved.

    I think you're going to see wildly varying answers regarding sizes of teams, depending upon site complexity, etc. The real issue here is that it looks like you need to learn to push back.

    Your posting sounds more like a distress message than an actual question. If you feel you're understaffed and you're feeling heat from the top, look these guys straight in the eye and say "If you refuse to offer more staff, we can only reasonably expect to complete around this date", and don't flinch. They'll respect you more in the long run and know you mean business.

    Jim [] -- Exercise, Web 2.0 style.
    • Re:Push Back (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <> on Friday March 24, 2006 @06:53PM (#14991469) Homepage Journal
      I think you're going to see wildly varying answers regarding sizes of teams, depending upon site complexity, etc. The real issue here is that it looks like you need to learn to push back.

      That's a nice sentiment, except for one problem: He's a manager, not a coder. He doesn't need to push back, he needs to spend his time managing. Which means that instead of coding, he needs to spend his time doing other things like:

      • Market the idea to the rest of company. Sending out mockups and ROI case studies of other companies can entice your manager and/or his manager, and do a lot to help sell why more resources are needed.
      • Use your budget more effectively. Your company may not have given you leave to hire full-time employees, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you can't hire contractors to build tricky or time-consuming portions. Bonus points if you can get stuff auto-generated.
      • Build trust. You need to gain a reputation as someone who gets things done, and can be trusted with a task. If you build that trust, you'll be trusted that you'll use extra resources wisely rather than empire-building. Yeah, it's difficult with limited resources. Figure it out. You're a manager now, so you'd better find a way.
      • Don't make excuses. Learn to put a positive spin on timetables, instead. Using tools like Microsoft Project (blech) can allow you to chart out how many man-hours something will take. It can also help you show how it will get done faster if you have more resources.
      • Don't commit to a project unless you and your superiors are agreed on the timetables. Eveyone expects some slippage on large projects, but too much will cost you dearly. If you already agreed to a messed up timetable (or didn't give one!), then you may need to eat some crow when you present a realistic projection. You should still give that projection, though! Without it, you'll just look incompetent. With it, you'll at least admit to a mistake and ask to correct it.

      All in all, I don't hold very much hope for the story submitter. Being a manager is very different from being a programmer. If he's been in his position for two years and hasn't learned how to play the game yet, then he may not be cut out for it. Being a manager is a cut-throat business, and there are only two ways to survive: Either be really good, or be really good at brown nosing. The former is usually preferrable; especially if your bosses are no slouches.
      • Re:Push Back (Score:3, Insightful)

        He's a manager, not a coder. He doesn't need to push back, he needs to spend his time managing. Which means that instead of coding, he needs to spend his time doing other things like:

        Like? Like pushing back. That's exactly what managers are for. They don't code, they push their agenda when and where it needs pushing.

        I'll tell you, though, I've worked in a few places both big and small, and never experienced this problem. Most of the managers I've worked with, are all over the new paradigm of the Interwe

        • Re:Push Back (Score:5, Informative)

          by DaveJay ( 133437 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @07:19PM (#14991610)
          Here are some handy things to phrase more politely than I'm phrasing them here:

          "I can't tell you when it will be finished until we know exactly what we're building. Help us nail down the specifications, and I'll be able to give you a finish date with the current staff and workload."

          "There is a finite amount of manpower available to do this work, and the schedule I gave you is firm, unless we either add people -- and that won't be a one-to-one improvement, it will depend on how much work can be run in parallel -- or reduce scope. Help us do that, and I'll be able to get you a new completion date."

          "I know you want these changes in the initial launch, and I want to give you these changes in the initial launch. However, there will be some impact to how long it will take, because a lot of work we've already completed will need to be redone. Help us nail down the new specifications, and I'll be able to give you a finish date with the current staff and workload."

          Repeat ad nauseum until the project is finished.
          • Of course, I can't prove ROI until the new site is launched (a great Catch22).

            What? What? Of course you can prove ROI before the new site is born. of course you can. What you can't do is provide ROI before the site is launched. YOUR JOB IS TO PROVE ROI BEFORE THE JOB EVEN STARTS!!! I can't believe you turn to us to say..."Yeah, bummer..." That's what you should be doing for a living. Right? Right???
      • Re:Push Back (Score:2, Interesting)

        by sog_abq ( 960133 )
        Not only contractors, but consider interns as well. Lots of capable college kids are willing to sell their sould for an internship, so take advantage of the oppertunity. You get cheap disposable labor, and they get that all-valuable 'job-experience'. Plus, you never know when you might stumble upon a long-term fit for your company.
      • ...of a manager's role.

        He's a manager, not a coder. He doesn't need to push back, he needs to spend his time managing.

        What do you think management is if it isn't "pushing"? This fellow is managing a major web development project, and resource allocation (resources being time, money and people) is an essential, unavoidable part of the process. Unless you are a "supreme manager" who answers to nobody, like a president or COO or something, then it is this guys job to estimate as accurately as possible what r
    • Re:Push Back (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JehCt ( 879940 ) *

      Agree that it's a call for help. The writer should not be doing web development in house. He should have come up with a list of requirements, obtained quotations and time estimates, selected a contractor, signed a contract, and been done with this months ago.

      He's using brute force where knowledge would be a better input. Classic.

      • If they won't provide the manpower to do the work now, why do you think they'd pay for manpower + profit to a contractor?
        • Re:Push Back (Score:5, Informative)

          by pixel.jonah ( 182967 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @07:25PM (#14991639)
          Because that's not how big corps work. They are much more likely to spend $x to hire an outside firm or consultants than the same $x to staff up.

          Two cases in point:

          1) My company (3 people) was hired to redesign the corporate website (twice) and build the entire employee intranet for a $300m/7,000 employee company. This client had a 60+ person web team in the corporate division alone, yet had to hire out to a tiny team of crack individuals to actually get anything done.

          2) I'm working with another client now - smaller but much older - that would much rather have us (as the consulting firm) hire and manage the people we need for the project and pass the cost on to them (plus a markup) than hire internally.

          I don't understand the accounting side enough to know what the benefits are there, but from a management perspective, it's very nice to be able to make a single "entity" responsible for the project (as kind of a black box) than to have to think about and deal with an internal "team".

          Thank you for listening to .jonah's voice from the trenches for today.
          • Re:Push Back (Score:3, Insightful)

            by geekoid ( 135745 )
            They don't need to be outsourceing web development, they need to hire managers who can manage people, and understand the managment issues in IT departments.

            • That's quite possible. I wasn't recommending a solution, simply talking about my experience.

              As another example, I know (first hand) about a large ($8bln) company that owns its own ships and stuff, but outsources its web work. It seems to be one of those things that companies "think" is outside of their core competency and so would rather farm it out like it's "rocket surgery" or something. ;)

              To another point my observation is that - web designers/developers - esp. good ones - tend to be independent minded f
          • Re:Push Back (Score:5, Informative)

            by corbettw ( 214229 ) <{corbettw} {at} {}> on Friday March 24, 2006 @08:48PM (#14992002) Journal
            I don't understand the accounting side enough to know what the benefits are there

            They're called "recurring costs", and hiring outside consultants don't generate them while hiring employees do. Let's say you have to accomplish some project, and it's going to require roughly 1600 man hours to complete (three programmers working for three months, eight hour days). You don't have three programmers with enough time to dedicate to this project. So, you have two choices:

            a) hire three guys
            b) hire an outside firm to do the work

            Finding and hiring three qualified programmers is going to take longer than finding one qualified firm, but even if it wasn't it's still cheaper to go with route b in this instance. Three programmers are going to cost you about $250,000 a year, give or take $50,000 depending on your market. So even if you spend $100 per hour on the outside firm, you're coming out ahead at only $160,000. Not to mention, once this project is done, if you go with route a, you're now stuck with three more employees, for whom you have to find something to do or else they're just going to get disgruntled and spend all day posting on Slashdot.
            • But this doesn't usually take into account that the people brought in by the contractor to do the job are usually less competent, and almost certainly less motivated to do a job they would be proud of. The working conditions lots of these contractors, especially the big ones, create, generate a lot of turnover ... mostly over.

              You're far better off finding better ways to schedule and manage projects so you don't find yourself in a pinch one day with work for 6 people when you only have enough continuing wo

      • Re:Push Back (Score:5, Insightful)

        by EnronHaliburton2004 ( 815366 ) * on Friday March 24, 2006 @09:06PM (#14992057) Homepage Journal
        Contractors? You mean those guys who send out mock-ups 2 months into a project, but wait for 5 months into a 6 month project ask me what "Websphere" is (It's the platform for product that they are replacing), "Oh CVS, I wasn't able to access the account you gave me 4 months ago?" and my favorite "We tried to download the images via FTP, but couldn't connect. Eh? What's 'SFTP'? We thought that was atypo."

        By that time, the business is totally committed, the boss failed to hold the contractors to the contract, and the boss' boss is waiting for a deliverable. You could certainly cancel the contract, but that pretty much means loosing your job. Maybe they deserve to get fired.

        I've never been a decision maker in a project like this, but I would say this happens more then half the time with businesses that I work with. Past schedule and over budget.
  • WTF (Score:5, Funny)

    by SQLz ( 564901 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @06:35PM (#14991364) Homepage Journal
    Is an "Internet" department?
  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @06:38PM (#14991382)
    Too often you will never have enough people to get the job done, or you will have too many people to get the job done. But you will never have the right number of people to get the job done. Everybody still expects the project to be done on time and under budget.

    This is why being a project manager at any level can suck at times. What I learned over the years is either to make do with what you got or just walk away because some projects aren't worth sacrificing your time and effort.
  • You need to think like your managers think (I know, THE HORROR!!!). They can't *prove* any of the projected ROI numbers on any of their other projects, and you aren't expected to either.

    You need to make a reasonable educated guess based on similar implementations. Talk to people who have done similar projects for similar companies and get their actual ROI numbers. Take a good look at that, then guess. That should help with the justification.

    Oh, and to answer your question -- there's 1 in our company.
  • Cliff, you posted here by mistake, please move it to the Poll section.
  • by ddent ( 166525 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @06:43PM (#14991401) Homepage
    Try and see how much the problem can be broken down. Chances are, it is possible for you to release more functionality over time, and get something out the door soon. There is probably something you could do that would get you ROI pretty much tomorrow.
  • by nickgrieve ( 87668 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @06:44PM (#14991409) Journal
    If your site go 8 years without an update, your obviously not a tech company... it may seem like a shock to some, but not evey business has more need for a website than using it as a contact page or simple "who we are".

    Who are your customers? are they interent users?
    • Yeah, but why bother with important information like that? If your company sells fill dirt, there probably aren't too many people looking up your website and thinking it needs to be better. We're going to town redoing our website, but I think it's just an image thing. Our customers don't have much interest in the site, because it's not really useful to our interaction with them.
    • by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 ) <> on Friday March 24, 2006 @06:55PM (#14991488) Homepage
      Maybe they are.

      True story: I worked for a tech company with a website created in notepad in 10 minutes because someone was bored one day. Most of the information on it was obsolete.

      One day the CEO emailed excitedly to say he'd updated it... turns out he'd joined AOL and got some kind of web site design package - he'd produced a single text page with blue text on an orange background.

      And spelled the name of the company wrong.

      We left it a week before quietly correcting some of the more horrendous faults (it wasn't even standard HTML.. heck I'm not sure what it was to this day).

      It took another 2 years before that company got somewhat of a clue... true, their new site is a Flash/ActiveX monster, but it's progress at least.
      • their new site is a Flash/ActiveX monster, but it's progress at least.

        I think you have that backwards
        Going from Flash / Active X the notepad I what I would call progress.
      • When we find that post-it note with the password the Autodesk guy can change the names of managers that left 1 1/2 years ago.

        That's what lean management is all about.

      • Who cares if it wasn't standard HTML when the company name wasn't even spelled right. If it was straight ascii it probably would have been better than spelling the company name wrong. And blue on orange? does this guy have no color sense?
    • Who are your customers? are they interent users?

      No but their peronsal information is on the internet on public forums. Oh wait... I don't think I was supposed to disclose that.
  • Our public facing site is managed by one dedicated person (250 employees, $25 million revenue). Of course, our marketing department manages a little bit of the content (through a custom CMS) but the overall site design and management is done by one person.

    Now, our intranet site(s) take the time of several IS people, but no one is dedicated full time to those services. But intranet and internet web development are two different beasts.

  • 1) convince your trouble maker and turn him into an ally and use him as a buffer against those above him.

    2) convince those above him what's right|wrong and leave your immediate troublemaker in the cold.

    3) continue to bang your head against the the wall until you reach brain or they send you out the door with a patch of skull missing.

    4) You realize this is an intractable situation and high-tail it out of there while you still have the ability to do so on your own terms.

    There are subtle nuances, but
    • There are subtle nuances, but unless you are adept at pulling a rabbit out of the hat, I'd vote for #4, regardless of how long you've been there. People understand bailing out of failing situations.

      I'm constantly amazed by the tendancy of Slashdotters to just cut and run in the face of adversity. Quiting one job just because you don't get along with every single person in the organization is not a winning strategy cause, guess what?, you're not always going to get along with everyone. Try to be positive and
      • I'm constantly amazed by the tendancy of Slashdotters to just cut and run in the face of adversity. Quiting one job just because you don't get along with every single person in the organization is not a winning strategy cause, guess what?, you're not always going to get along with everyone. Try to be positive and find ways to work with the situation, not against it.

        There's a difference between not getting along with anyone and not being able to perform your job function because people refuse to help you

  • Everyone should know that it's the mid-level managers & secretaries who run the show. Secretaries can block your access to the decision makers & middle managers can block your access to resources once a decision has been made.

    So... it's entirely irrelevant if the upper-level managers approve something, because they aren't the ones implementing it. If the middle managers aren't on board, you might as well kiss your project goodbye. You either need to convince him directly (kiss ass) or have his boss(
  • How about a Demo? (Score:5, Informative)

    by saden1 ( 581102 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @06:46PM (#14991430)
    Maybe it is time to give them a demo. Not necessarily a functioning demo, mock-up screens will do. You'll give them an idea of what exactly you're trying to do and if they think you're on the right track you'll get more funding for new hires.
    • If the middle-manager isn't supporting the project because he/she doesn't know why the company needs it, a demo might be a good idea.

      If said manager isn't supporting it because he/she thinks they're taking too long, a demo might make him/her think they're already done with the project, and in a couple of days it should be up.
    • Make it a powerpoint presentation. Anything more will make them think it's closer to being done than it actually is. If they see something in a web browser that looks like the final product, even if it's just 10 static pages will make them ask why it isn't live already. It sounds like the managers don't understand the technology, and wouldn't understand the meaning of prototype.
  • by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <> on Friday March 24, 2006 @06:47PM (#14991432) Homepage Journal
    Especially for a large company. I'll bet you don't develop your own advertising, you don't do your branding and identity development internally. Why on earth would you tackle this internally? Do you have a Marcomm Agency Of Record? If not talk to your advertising AOR and ask them for help. Really, this isn't a DIY project.

    Triply so if it's been 8 years.
  • At the last job I had where we did comperable work, we had three developers, one web designer (shared among other projects), and two content providers. We cranked out a web app with forty-some forms, linked to two databases (MySQL and Oracle), serving some 2500 users. A hundred thousand lines or so of PHP, whipped up from scratch in just over two months. It seriously sucked to be on the project, but it was a pretty successful rollout.
  • by MudButt ( 853616 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @06:53PM (#14991466)
    I'd be a little worried if I were asked to show the ROI of any web site that wasn't specifically for an on-line retailer. How did you show the ROI on a large, wooden, hand carved sign in the 1600's?

    A web site (as simple or complex as it may be) is a marketing tool for a business. And anyone with an MBA or equivalent experience will tell you that developing an ROI on a marketing campaign is nearly impossible, at best.

    As for "how many" developers it's going to take... Check out today's story, 60% Of Windows Vista Code To Be Rewritten [], which has some great advice about how to get 9 women pregnant and have a baby in 1 month. (Or was that "getting 5 Jazz players pregnant"? I don't remember...)
    • simple.
      Do I have some customers? Did they find me becasue of my sign? there is your base for an ROI.

      Of course, no one did it because it was pretty obvious you needed a sign.

      For a web site, yiour ROI is generated traffic, as well as removing costs from other places of business. For example, can a support web site save you money in man power? telco costs? Does it have a marketing value? Does it have a sale value?

      That like saying yu ca't get some ROI number friom a tv commercial, which you can.
    • This isn't the 1600s and a website isn't a wooden sign. In this day and age, all marketing tools are expected to prove that they were worth the investment. Why do you think so many questionaires have that "How did you hear about us?" question at the bottom. The guys at the top want to make sure they aren't wasting their money on advertising that doesn't work.

      I think your understanding of ROI is a little narrow....Yes, in many cases it boils down to who bought your product in the long run but it's not always
  • burn out. (Score:5, Funny)

    by brevig907 ( 963429 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @06:53PM (#14991468)
    I work for a retail electronics company that has 32 stores accross muliple states in the US. I'm the only App and Web(intranet -php/mysql / internet -jsp/Oracle) developer, one of two DBA's, one of two business analysts for my department, only technical point on contact for department, and basic bitch.

    currently I'm creating a custom ticketing system for our call center, I've been given 10 days, to design, develop and roll out the application. Needless to say some of what I have to do is hacked together.

    and now all of my complaining leads on a question.

    What do you do when you feel burnt out at work?

    Personally, I've started drinking during lunch, not the best thing, but it seems to help.
    • Freelance. I ended up going freelance, albeit in a different industry, and I've never been happier or felt more accomplished.

      You'll find a lot more of your time is spent marketing yourself (about 40%, in my case), but that has been a good learning experience for me, and thus, feel like I've moved forward.

      And you'll also find yourself having to chase down payments occasionally. That's probably the only real downside of it. It's not pleasant.

    • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @09:03PM (#14992050)
      What do you do when you feel burnt out at work?

      Personally, I've started drinking during lunch, not the best thing, but it seems to help.

      Start hiring hookers during lunch with petty cash instead. Getting your pipes cleaned will make you a lot more productive that afternoon than getting drunk.
    • Fry's? (Score:4, Funny)

      by boristdog ( 133725 ) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @11:56AM (#14993656)
      32 retail electronics stores? My guess is Fry's.

      I always thought Fry's web site looked like their web staff was pretty much one guy.

      With a drinking problem.

  • by SethJohnson ( 112166 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @06:54PM (#14991474) Homepage Journal

    I'm the lone developer in my state agency's "website department". We have over 250 employees and huge information publishing needs. Like the submitter, we are in the midst of a website redesign using a commercial CMS. A county spent 6 months with a staff of four programmers to build their site with the newer version of this software. I was asked to do it in 3 months by myself. I'm spending entire weekends and nights in my cubicle coding this thing in JSP. No overtime pay. It's a month past deadline and if I don't finish it by the end of next week, I'm fired.

    Morale to this story: working for the government sucks as much as people say it does.

    • Oh, man. I feel your pain.

      (I used to work for a state university. Academia can be as bad as working for the state, especially when your university is run by the state. Worst of both worlds.)

      If I were you, I'd throw together a couple of mockups and spend the rest of the time interviewing.
    • by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @08:24PM (#14991927)
      I know it's easy to say when you have the luxury of not being in that position, but seriously, tell them to shove their job. They're asking for the impossible and not even paying you for attempting it.

      Life's too short, and no job is worth that.
    • > It's a month past deadline and if I don't finish it by the end of next week, I'm fired

      I'm sorry to say that you should spend the next week sending out resumes instead of putting in unpaid overtime.

      An organization that abuses you that badly today will do it again tomorrow. Try to get a gig where they abuse you only during regular work hours.

      If you have moral objections to that recommendation (after all, when I was in the same position as you, I ignored the same advice...), you should focus your e

      • I'm sorry to say that you should spend the next week sending out resumes instead of putting in unpaid overtime.

        Seconded. Also, stop working overtime - you want to be fresh for your interviews. If it were me (and I'm an evil bastard), I'd take longer lunches away from the crowd so they think I'm interviewing. Even better if I am.

    • by corbettw ( 214229 ) <{corbettw} {at} {}> on Friday March 24, 2006 @09:15PM (#14992095) Journal
      A county spent 6 months with a staff of four programmers to build their site with the newer version of this software. I was asked to do it in 3 months by myself...It's a month past deadline and if I don't finish it by the end of next week, I'm fired.

      I call bullshit. It's incredibly difficult to fire state employees, and given that there's documented evidence of a similar organization taking 8 times the resources to complete the same project, there's no way you can get fired for this from a large corporation, let alone the state.

      If your manager has literally threatened you with termination over this, stop working on the project and go directly to your HR department, do not pass GO. Tell them about your stress (it helps if you have a doctor's note or, even better, a note from Epstein's muttah, stating that you're under immense stress and borderline to a breakdown) and make sure they know you've been threatened with termination for not doing what four people couldn't. You'll be surprised at how fast they move to make sure you're taken care of.
  • We have 2 developers put in about a 25% of their time, when not otherwise nursing ailing network switches or coddling servers.

    Granted, that's just for our in-house apps.

    Our public website has, and I kid ye not, an entire department with a director. As well they should, because it's a million hit a day website. It helps to be a grant funded non-profit in that regard.

  • Everyone in our marketing department thinks that they are in the internet department. They all are convinced that a flash based web site with siny bells and whistles is the way to go.

    Fortunatly, what Marketing thing and what is actually happening is two different things. Content and functionality are being pushed over flash (both the Macromedia flash and general website bling.)

    We've out sorced the web development to a sister company in our orginization which happens to do web services. In house the ITS Mana
  • Classic Blunder (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jason Earl ( 1894 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @06:56PM (#14991492) Homepage Journal

    It sounds like you have made the classic mistake of ripping out and replacing something that worked simply because you wanted to do something better. That's almost always a bad idea without buy in from the highest levels.

    Sure, the old site is crufty, but it is paid for, and the stuff you are doing is not. If you don't have the political pull to spend money at will it is almost a better plan to find minor changes that can be done inexpensively but that yield proportionally large benefits. Once you have a few visible "successes" under your belt then you can start trying to change the world. Until then, promising the moon without being able to deliver is simply a full-proof way to fail. If you have undertaken a project that you can not complete with your current staff and management is starting to question the viability of your project then you probably had better start thinking about plan B. Plan B probably should not include "industry statistics."

    Seriously, you need to deliver something. Not complain about needing more help.

    • Which triggers this idea in my head, which is probably how I'd approach the problem. (This message is addressed to WorkinTooHard, not Jason Earl.)

      Since you don't think that the management is committing anywhere near the necessary resources to this project, suggest shutting it down. The worst case scenario is to fritter away resources that could be better spent doing something useful and yet never having anything to show for it.

      If they agree, there you go, problem solved. Seriously.

      If they don't agree, take
    • Here's a simple concept that he could have learned from playing The Sims for half an hour:

      Your Sim is miserable in his apartment. He has a crappy TV that doesn't make him very happy. You are confident that a big plasma TV would make him much happier and thus he'd work harder, get promoted, and earn far more than the cost of the TV back.

      Sensible person's approach: Earn what you can. Upgrade the TV for a slightly better one. Earn faster with the better TV. Upgrade once you can. Repeat until you have the plasm
  • ...and it shows...

  • incremental change (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bfields ( 66644 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @06:58PM (#14991501) Homepage
    We are in the middle of a major website redesign (the current site has not been updated in over 8 years) and everyone is asking why it takes so long to complete, and almost daily I have to explain that I do not have enough manpower. Of course, I can't prove ROI until the new site is launched (a great Catch22).

    Sounds like reason #65536 to never launch a "major redesign" of anything....

    Isn't there some way this could be broken down into steps that could show actual day-to-day improvements (even if only very minor ones?)?

  • 8 international and multilingual business domains, 3 full intranets and all web applications hosted on two redhat clusters, postgresql and mysql backends and we have a grand total of 1 "Me, Myself and I", development and administration. If you are having that much trouble doing a site update you did not write it correctly to begin with. I can update the site look and feel for one of our domains in a hour. It is a little bit of a juggling act sometimes but get everything done somehow.
    • Yeah, I could also update the look and feel of in an hour. One css "font-family" and still some time for Doom 3.
    • "Two years ago, I took the job of Internet Marketing Manager"

      "the current site has not been updated in over 8 years"

      We could debate the state of the art in web site development 8 years ago and ask whether or not your system is similarly aged, but I think it is fairly clear from the context above that saying "you did not write it correctly" is perhaps a bit unfair.

  • This does sound like a plea for help as much as anything, but gathering information is your first step in fixing a situation.

    Here are some comparisons from my recent past. Currently, I'm the only tech guy, and I do everything. But that's because I just left my last job to found a start up :-)

    Prior to that, I was one of three developers in a department that also had a designer, a writer, and a project manager. That was to service an organization of ~1,100 people. Some departments also had their own techish p
  • >and everyone is asking why it takes so long to complete, and almost daily I have to explain that I do not have enough manpower

    Just tell them to f**k off. You only report to one person. Worry about what they think.
  • I didn't expect a (respected) mid-level manager to be the road block.

    A mid-level manager has a lot of people above him. When are you ready to go to his boss and point out that this person is preventing you from getting your job done?

  • Wiresquire's law:If you are asked more than 3 times about the same thing, you should have already told them about it

    It's an indicator that there may be cultural change management issues and/or you haven't sold people on an idea/project.

    In your case it may not harm to do a little status to let people know where you are. You do have a project plan, and are tracking towards completion, right?

    If you are so understaffed, it should have been apparent at the start of the project. And the time for the project to be
  • Either you or the company have this process backwards. The company needs to decide why they have a web presence and what they want to accomplish. For example:

    We will book $XX sales this year through our website.
    We will generate XX,XXX new leads through out website.
    We will eliminate XX positions in Human Resources by providing information to our employees.
    We will increase stockholder satisfaction with our shareholder communications through improvement of our website.

    If you were an architect and the company h
  • Totally Dependant (Score:3, Informative)

    by Panaflex ( 13191 ) <> on Friday March 24, 2006 @07:09PM (#14991566)
    I've been involved with web development since 1996. I've worked at a half dozen small, medium and large web sites.

    Basically, it comes down to:
    1. Understanding of the final product or content
    2. How much you interconnect with backend data providers, and if you require filtering.
    3. Your team's experience in the language and dev environment
    4. The speed at which those languages lend towards the final development.

    Note about languages -
    My experience is that Java is by FAR a slower dev environment than PHP, Perl or Ruby. The whole compile cycle and the complexities of app servers make for a much more complicated project. The exception to this is JSP - which comes closer to Perl - but entails it's own complexities in getting at databases, etc... Plus, java makes no wins in uptime, speed, or clustering compared to Perl (utilizing mod-perl), or PHP.

    Yes, I have been on the large person java team that architected the connections between the three largest online travel providers - don't whine at me.
    • I concur. I use Java at work and for the most part I like it. But the development time for any app is several times longer than it would take in a scripting language. Any of your choice of PHP, Perl, Ruby, or Python will give you much faster development and a more nimble codebase for future changes.
  • I built an MVC framework in under a month and copied over all the procedural code into OOP code.

    If you have a GOOD developer, good organization and all the content pregenerated... 1-3 months should be all thats needed (even for an enterprise company).

    The exception would be a complete re-org, business redesign as well but again, with good organization and a good framework, it should be very straight forward.
  • by The-Bus ( 138060 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @07:17PM (#14991600)
    Hiring may not necessarily be the answer. You need manpower, but once the site is up-and-running, you may not need as many people onboard. Could you accomplish the same goals by maybe hiring another key person but getting contractors for the rest of the work? Or maybe hiring someone (or some company) to oversee certain aspects of the site temporarily?

    For example, a programmer or designer is pretty flexible. After the site is done they could work on other projects, update manuals, internal programs, media kits, etc. But what would, for example, a UI designer do? I'd also shy away from having an "email marketing manager" because almost all the professional marketing emails I get are usually handled by a company that's not the one advertising everything.

    Of course, a couple of things need to be noted. First off, if they have not updated their site in 8 years and the internet is vital, how come they are still in business? Who are some competitors with a terrific web presence and how has that affected their business? I've seen plenty of cases where a very high investment has not really resulted in any new business. Or, the new business can't be tied to the site, eventhough the site is generating new business. (Build this into your proposal so if there's an increase, it can be directly attributed to the project you spearheaded!)

    I have a friend who is a procurement specialist for a pretty big consultancy, with clients being a lot of Fortune 500 companies. Anytime he needs to compare commoditized products or services (say, plastic sheeting, wires) he always has a very big list of companies to contact. The easiest way he cuts that down from 100 companies to 30 or 40 is by eliminating ones with bad or non-existent websites. To an extent, it is a reflection of the professionalism and thoroughness of any company.

    That being said, if your employer is afraid of new ideas, doesn't want to understand them, and doesn't see the benefit if a clear, realistic plan to great ROI is laid out in front of them, that company is a sinking ship. It that's the case, it wouldn't hurt to take your good idea and see if a competitor will do it instead (with you overseeing the project at a vastly higher salary, of course).
  • by davidsyes ( 765062 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @07:27PM (#14991654) Homepage Journal
    "How many people do you have working in/on your company's Internet/Intranet and Extranet sites and applications? How many full-time web-application developers, content providers, analytics people, UI designers, email marketing people, and so forth?"

    Every time I see something like the text quoted, (and this is the 3rd time in about as many weeks that I've seen such questions here -- not to attack the Slash Staff, btw...) I feel like it's a probe question. I wonder if it's well-crafted and paid for so that the readers get all riled up and reply. Like the people with nicknames, but personal web pages. You then go on to say how many MySQL devs, and so on you have, trying to help out this guy. For all you know, it could be post-worthy by Slashdot staff standards, but the poster or piece-writer could be looking for sales avenues leading to sales revenues.

    Some of you guys out to be wary of being "taggable" while disclosing what products you use. You never know: that could be Oracle or ms digging for treasure. If your company is susceptible to discounts and promises of upgrades and marketing dollars, YOU could be out of a job if they replace YOUR tool of choice...

    Just some thoughts...
  • Don't do ROI. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sigma 7 ( 266129 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @07:47PM (#14991756)
    Of course, I can't prove ROI until the new site is launched (a great Catch22).

    The trick is not to do ROI - instead you do risk analysis of not undertaking the project.

    You mention that the current site is 8 years out of date. In your risk analysis, state that prospective clients that view the website will see that information is outdated and will look elsewhere. This qualifies as a cataclysmic severity since it means no inbound customers (as they are more attracted to some webpage that is moderatly up to date.)

    Just remember one change you have to make in your risk analysis: s/risk/certainty/g.

    If the manager insists on ROI, head to the advertising department and ask them for their figures. As you know, a website is merely another way of advertising, and no advertising means no business - in fact, advertsing may give you advise on working around your roadblocks as necessary (or otherwise work on your behalf.)
  • The company I work for recently implemented a new portal for our customers. We had a core group of maybe a dozen people directly attached to the process during some phase. But if you include content providers, those responsible for maintaining the back end database for our catalogs, advertising, graphics for the images, etc, it was a whole company effort.

    It would be like asking someone at Amazon how many people work on the website. Maybe only a subset of the entire company actually works directly for the
  • 1 person - me. The curse of the small business. I did just recently outsource some graphic work that was beyond my ability though and in the future would like to outsource all of the work if I could find people that'd do the work to the standards I want. Data entry alone would be something I could outsource to several full time workers.
  • None of them?
  • Maybe you shouldn't try to redesign it. With a good roadmap plan of where you want to get to, incremental changes can you there. maybe you're trying to bite off too much in one go? I've seen many a company website turn into a disaster because of that. In one case the webmaster of the site got all angry and blamed it on my browser, on Linux, on my ISP, etc. When I talked on the phone to a sales guy, he agreed that the web site sucked and he had to use the paper catalog for everything (and he used Window

  • 2.

    yes 2.
  • I work for a company of about 10 people.

    I manage all the IT stuff.

    I've been trying to run the website for years. By "trying", I mean I virtually have to hold a gun to my boss' head to get him to help write product literature for the site. (The new version of our relatively small website has been in development for over a year for this very reason.)
  • I work for a trade association with a staff of about 400. Because of the nature of trade associations (divided into lots of little side groups), we have about 25 individual Web sites with probably about 7000-9000 pages of content and light Web apps. We outsource our hosting and LAN to a contractor (they have offices within the building though).

    We are actually in the process of taking a "Web Team" of 7 people and diffusing it into the Communications department as a whole. We were a cohesive group dedicated t
  • For 22 sites in 14 languages...

    Worker one:
    General Manager, html/photoshop/illustrator production, product photographer, global administrivia manager, web reporting, banner development, way too much more to list.

    Worker two (me):
    Developer, Technical Manager, DBA, e-mail campaign executor, project manager for outsourced work, manage SEO and keyword purchases, occasional copywriter and all-around shortstop.

    Mostly possible from a bunch of homegrown text-file and DB-based content management tools.

    For the record,
  • just one (me). Worked as the sole web developer for an mid-size public school system. 50+ schools, another 20 departments, intranet - roughly 14k pages of content.

    You'll never have enough to do the job. It's up to you (and your personality / work ethic) whether or not you make the job work.
  • I was part of the team that implemented the localized intranet content for my country... so I got to spend some time with the guy in charge of our internet/intranet websites. Hes a veteran that worked for over 25 years in the company, and he struggled a lot to get the higher management believe him that our companys website, a completely Flash based (bleh) usability nightmare needed to be updated. It was ugly.
    How was he able to change that? starting from inside. He joined forces with a developer to customize
  • Don't be a wuss (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AngryNick ( 891056 ) on Friday March 24, 2006 @10:35PM (#14992323) Homepage Journal
    It sounds like you willingly took a job at a company with a non-technical business model, old-school managers, and a half-baked idea of how the web can help increase their revenues. It's now your job to make the best of the situation and knock out little chunks of reality in an organization whose current business model is fundamentally opposed to making money through the web.

    I got into the same deal, but with a much larger monster of an organization, with lots of developers, thousands of servers, and endless financial resources. Here's what I learned: two passionate and committed coders with a clear understanding of their company's business and customers can produce more than an army of egos, project managers, analysts, disengaged sponsors.

    I suggest you pick a target that the two of you can hit in 30 days, communicate that goal to your boss's boss, bust your asses to hit the target in 20 days, then spend the next 10 days figuring out your next 30 day trick. Rinse and repeat.

    As you complete these little projects, you will A) gain the trust and confidence of the guys with the money, and B) increase your own confidence in your team's abilities. Yes, there will be bugs and system-wide FUps, but that's the price of playing the game with 2 guns in a 4x6 cube.

    With time you will learn to identify the low-risk opportunities for investments, where the ROI is high and the time to execute is low. Some of these investments might be adding new features, others may be in hiring a new person. Management will come to respect your judgment.

    The point is to run your shop like your own business and spend your time and money as if it were your own. If you're not making money for the company, and seeking ways to make even more, then they don't need you. Yes, having a few more people sounds appealing, but you need to have a direction to send them first.

  • A middle manager is a road block?


  • Want ROI? Buy a municipal bond.

    Employees don't provide ROI. Management does. Deal with it.

  • Submit it to "WebPages that", win the t-shirt, and wear it to work. Only way to be sure.

    Seriously, maybe a company that got by with an 8 year old web site needs a 24.99 web template and about 6 pages saying where it is, who they sell to, a phone #, an email address, and job openings.

    If you are doing business fine now, you don't NEED a web site.

    Or take a different tack, make the site a place for customers to self-order or check status and make it plain jane. Your target audience is long gone by no
  • Since you took the job, I am not going to comment on that decision. And I am not going to go over what you should have done before you started the project either. You said it was a mid-level manager that give you grief. Can you convince people higher up that you need more resources and time ? If you can, you can try that trick. If not, it is too late to convince these mid-level people you need more resources and time. You have to win their trust first. Your best bet now is to see whether there is any
  • I work for one of the 26 TV stations that our company owns, 2200 employees, and they outsourced our websites back in 2001. I was on the web team at the time and at the highpoint we had 6 people handling the front end app, the app server, the network, and the database, 5 people handling design, 3 or 4 people per station providing content, and a few salespeople dedicated to new media advertising. Actually those salespeople are still employees dedicated to selling web advertising and sponsorship but they are
  • At my company we're heavily investing in our Internet department. In fact, it's so big that everyone at the company works there.

    Oh, did I mention that I work at the Mozilla Corporation?
  • and one person (thankfully not me,) depending on how you define "department." It is painfully neglected, anemic entity that is just now considering an online store.

    So yeah, it is worrisome.
  • by fbg111 ( 529550 )
    I work at a regional airline with roughly 3000 employees and ~$1 billion total revenue in 2005, > $500 million of which was generated through our own website. IT has 80 people divided between several divisions - Network Engineering (Network Admins), Systems Engineering (Sys Admins), Systems Development (DBAs, Web, App Devs), Support (both IT and company-wide IT support & helpdesk), and IT management. The official 'web team' consists of about 10 Devs and DBAs in the SysDev group, but the de facto we
  • Exactly what kind of a website is this, if it is just an informational website about the company than it prolly could have been elegantly done in the time it took the poster to type up this cry baby post.
  • If you are the "Internet Marketting Manager" for your company, you need to tell them that at the very least, internet marketing involves a website so people can find you or get information. My company had someone else do the website, and we update data for it every day (customer information so they can pull their accounts). We have about 5 IT people for a company of 150 (about, may be near 200 soon)
  • About 0.25 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mutatis Mutandis ( 921530 ) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @08:58AM (#14993300)

    The website development and graphics are all contracted out. Only the content is developed in-house, by a scientific writer, so that we can be sure that it is both correct and well written. We can't ask web developers to check the content. I assume the legal department also checks it for any statements that various regulatory authories might object against. (Or adding SEC-required disclaimers etc.) I think that this in itself is a good model.

    The biggest potential problem that I see is a tendency of upper management to try to influence detail design, and their unfortunate tendency towards glitz: Flash animations, rolling menus, ticker bars, high-resolution graphics, and the like. These might consume a lot of time and money and only rarely contribute to a good website. (One of the few happy exceptions I have seen is Nikon's microscopy training website [], which is great.) But my personal preference would be for a site that is styled in a minimalistic way, light and fast.

  • by plopez ( 54068 ) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @10:54AM (#14993481) Journal
    1) What is the priority of your project?
    2) Based on #1, ask for resources based on apparent priority.

    If they do not meet your requests for item #2, kill the project. Otherwise it will just drag on as a zombie and suck your life away.

    To kick start the project, try to find an upper manager who is enthusiastic about the project. In project management lingo this is called a 'sponsor'. This person will politic with the rest of management to keep the project alive, a high priority and lobby for money.

    If you cannot find a sponsor, kill the project. Use your budget and personnel where they can have an impact, not on a zombie project.

BLISS is ignorance.