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Submission + - Unix Admin's Unit of Production? 4

RailGunSally writes: I am a (strictly technical) member of a large *NIX systems admin team at a Fortune 150. Our new IT Management Overlord is a hardcore beancounter from Hell. We in the trenches have been tasked with providing "metrics" on absolutely everything from system utilization to paperclip recycling. Of course, measuring productivity is right up there at the top of the list. We're stumped as to a definition of the basic unit of productivity for a *nix admin. There is a school of thought in our group that holds that if the PHBs are simple enough to want to operate purely from pie charts and spreadsheets, then we should just graph some output from /dev/random and have done with it. I personally love the idea, but I feel the need for due diligence, so I put the question to the Slashdotters: How does one reasonably quantify admin productivity?
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Unix Admin's Unit of Production?

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  • How does one reasonably quantify admin productivity?

    I would expect that the purpose of adminning things, is so that people can use those things. So, what kinds of things do you admin (physical machines, VMs, services, whatever), how many of each thing do you admin, and how many people directly and indirectly use each thing being adminned? How much time does adminning each kind of thing take?

  • The basic metric is: ( (failures * employees) / systems managed ) versus the same metric found in other teams or at other companies. The team with the lowest score is the best performer.

    You could also factor in:

    salaries (folks who make more money should be more effective)
    system complexity (a server is more complex than a user PC)
    time to repair (a 24-hour outage is worse than a 5-minute outage)
    severity of failure (A total failure is worse than an irritating bug. An irritating bug is worse than a failure with
  • First, the Overlord beancounter from Hell has a point. Consider that he may not be asking for a set of figures, but rather that you consider how the way that you do your job contributes to the aims and goals of the company or organisation that you work for.

    It is not a bad idea to ask workers to think about what value their work has for the company. Sysadmins have quite a lot of autonomy in the trenches in the way that they do their job (managers just don't have clue and cannot tell you how to do your job).
  • The previous replier has some great points - the key is finding metrics that make sense for what you're doing. Your boss isn't looking for a 'unit of productivity', he's looking for a way to measure what you're doing so he can communicate to his management. After all, that's why you get paid - to accomplish something. Management needs information to make decisions - staffing, resources, etc. etc. Admittedly, most large companies go way overboard in this regard - they either collect useless information that

God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker