Level 7 Technology Group

order from chaos

IT Management

Murray Franklyn

I was hired as the IT Manager to bring order to this chaotic situation. The story played out from 2006 to 2009. Prior to my joining, Murray Franklyn Family of Companys (MFC) was a classic case of a company in need of professional IT management and IT expertise.

MFC is a home builder in the greater Seattle area. The company is a privately-held partnership and at the time I was there, employed around 75 full-time employees in Bellevue and at construction sites in downtown Seattle and various cities on the Eastside.

Due to a number of personnel issues, the previous staff was terminated leaving only one very junior person to man a "Help Desk". Needless to say, there was no problem remembering names.

My immediate objective was to meet with the folks in the trenches to get first-hand experience with the work that they perform. It became apparent that this wasn't a one man job so prior to my onboarding (and without my input), management hired a Mike, an experienced IT technician as a Systems/Network Administrator along with Hazel, the Help Desk technician who also coordinated all activities with Verizon, our cellular provider.

I began a series of meetings with Department Heads to identify areas of concern and familiarize myself with the application systems in use. Working with Mike, we surveyed the network infrastructure to determine the problems people were having at their workstations. As a team, we identified short term goals that were focused on upgrading infrastructure and standardizing on an appropriate hardware/software platform.

Medium term goals centered on developing standards, procedures and best practices to define how we manage Information Technology. Did I mention our responsibilities include not only the home office in Bellevue, the construction trailers in the field but also telephony and executive management support.

By far the most exasperating and challenging of these was the latter. One of the senior partners in the firm asked me to hire a person dedicated to executive support. This included the partners and their family members on all gadgets electronic. Marcos proved to be an excellent find with a customer-service background, a temperament well suited for the executives and a natural inquisitiveness that kept him ahead of the curve.

Longer term goals concerned upgrading the Application systems that were in place to run the business. This included FAST, an ERP system for home builders from Constellation Home Builders, a customer service application called CSA written by Redmond Technology Partners, located in Bellevue, and OnBase a document management and retrieval application from Hyland Software with workflow capabilities that directly interfaced with FAST to automatically import documents and reports.

Our short-term goals were completed in a year by purchasing new HP switches, a Fortinet firewall, standardizing on Dell workstations, purchasing new Dell PowerEdge 2900 series servers for file sharing and email, replacing dial-in RAS with Internet RAS. Consolidating separate SQL databases hosted on individual outdated  IBM NetFinity PentiumII systems and moving them to separate SQL instances allowed us to repurposed a Dell PowerEdge server end eliminate the three NetFinity machines.

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