30 Skills Every IT Person Needs

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15. Work all night on a team project. No one likes to do this, but it's part of IT. Working through a hell project that requires an all-nighter to resolve stinks, but it builds very useful camaraderie by the time it is done.

16. Run cable. It looks easy, but it isn't. Plus, you will understand why installing a new server doesn't really take five minutes -- unless, of course, you just plug in both ends and let the cable fall all over the place. Don't do that -- do it right. Label all the cables (yes, both ends), and dress them nice and neat. This will save time when there's a problem because you'll be able to see what goes where.

17. You should know some energy rules of thumb. For example: A device consuming 3.5kW of electricity requires a ton of cooling to compensate for the heat. And I really do mean a ton, not merely "a lot." Note that 3.5kW is roughly what 15 to 20 fairly new 1U and 2U servers consume. One ton of cooling requires three 10-inch-round ducts to handle the air; 30 tons of air requires a duct measuring 80 by 20 inches. Thirty tons of air is a considerable amount.

18. Manage at least one project. This way, the next time the project manager asks you for a status, you'll understand why. Ideally, you will have already sent the status report because you knew it would be asked for.

19. Understand operating costs versus capital projects. Operating costs are the costs to run the business. Capital equipment is made of assets that can have their cost spread over a time period -- say, 36 months. Operating costs are sometimes better, sometimes worse. Know which one is better -- it can make a difference between a yes and no.

20. Learn the business processes. Being able to spot improvements in the way the business is run is a great technique for gaining points. You don't need to use fancy tools; just asking a few questions and using common sense will serve you well.

21. Don't be afraid to debate something you know is wrong. But also know when to stop arguing. It's a fine line between having a good idea and being a pain in the ass.

22. If you have to go to your boss with a problem, make sure you have at least one solution.

23. There is no such thing as a dumb question, so ask it ... once. Then write down the answer so that you don't have to ask it again. If you ask the same person the same question more than twice, you're an idiot (in their eyes).

24. Even if it takes you twice as long to figure something out on your own versus asking someone else, take the time to do it yourself. You'll remember it longer. If it takes more than twice as long, ask.

25. Learn how to speak without using acronyms.

26. IT managers: Listen to your people. They know more than you. If not, get rid of them and hire smarter people. If you think you are the smartest one, resign.

27. IT managers: If you know the answer, ask the right questions for someone else to get the solution; don't just give the answer. This is hard when you know what will bring the system back up quickly and everyone in the company is waiting for it, but it will pay off in the long run. After all, you won't always be available.

28. IT managers: The first time someone does something wrong, it's not a mistake -- it's a learning experience. The next time, though, give them hell. And remember: Every day is a chance for an employee to learn something else. Make sure they learn something valuable versus learning there's a better job out there.

29. IT managers: Always give people more work than you think they can handle. People will say you are unrealistic, but everyone needs something to complain about anyway, so make it easy. Plus, there's nothing worse than looking at the clock at 2 p.m. and thinking, "I've got nothing to do, but can't leave." This way, your employees won't have that dilemma.

30. IT managers: Square pegs go in square holes. If someone works well in a team but not so effectively on their own, keep them as part of a team.

This story, "30 Skills Every IT Person Needs" was originally published by InfoWorld.

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