5 minutes with... Ian Rootsey site IT manager, Wattyl

Where is your head office?

Blacktown, NSW.

What is Wattyl’s annual turnover?

$435 Million (Aust/NZ), $546 Million (Worldwide).

How many employees does Wattyl have?

1500.

How many IT users do you have and what is your IT budget?

We have 800 IT users, and the IT budget is between $1 million and $2 million.

What are your key applications, and what is your key infrastructure?

Prism, SalesTracker, JD Edwards Financials, Paperless Warehousing. The infrastructure is: Novell, Groupwise, AS/400, In-house TPC Distribution System. Hardware: IBM AS/400 mainframe, Intel based File Servers. Networking: Novell NetWare 6.0. Operating Systems: Intel Windows 32-bit operating systems are deployed throughout the organisation.

How long have you worked in IT?

For about 20 years now. I was doing accounting but noticed how most accountants ended up, so I thought it might be a good idea to change direction. Also, at that time the PC had just appeared so it was a good time to get involved.

How do you think business perceives IT?

I think that the value of IT to a business is far better appreciated and respected these days, especially now that many of the leading lights in business have worked with IT in a much closer relationship than their predecessors. They understand its worth far better and the real value it adds to a business.

What area of IT would you like to understand better?

Probably in communications, especially in networking and Internet areas. I still find it amazing what you can do on the Internet. To be on the other side of the world while still at your desk is an incredible thing. The power of the Internet is something I would like to know more about and know how to harness it.

What are your greatest IT challenges?

Like many others it is just keeping everything going properly while having to cope with fairly limited available resources. Being responsible for about 120 on-site users and TPC users across four states, it can be difficult when you get problems, especially in remote sites. Trying to diagnose and then rectify problems over the phone can be rather frustrating and time consuming. Supporting remote users and making them feel they are an important part of the IT structure is a difficult but important challenge.

How many IT professionals in your team?

It’s simply the Abbott and Costello show! There is just myself and my offsider Zsolt, who is invaluable. Without him I would find it virtually impossible to support the structure the way we currently do. He covers much of the on-site support that allows me to be more involved with remote support issues. After having worked with much larger groups in the past, I find this a good way to work. It certainly simplifies things. I think it qualifies as “running fairly lean”.

Who do you report to, and who reports to you?

Zsolt reports to me and I report to the technical services manager in Blacktown, NSW. What is the most difficult IT decision you have had to make? I haven’t had to make any of late, as these decisions are made further up the food chain. In the past I guess staffing issues have always been the most difficult to deal with.

What areas of IT do you specialise in?

No specific areas as we need to basically handle any problem that arises, either on the platform or with connectivity issues or within the TPC System, which is DOS-based. It is very broad which makes the job interesting and varied.

What are the most exciting IT projects and implementations you have been involved in?

Relocating equipment and users between sites, installing new TPC sites across the country, helping to implement a new desktop platform, and currently involved in a new external helpdesk/support structure.

What are the most pressing issues IT managers face?

Trying to control costs and still offer a first-class service to all your users. The cost explosion that is now occurring is a real threat to proper user support.

What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you at work?

Many years ago, putting in a stream of overnight procedures, then realising a job was wrong, deciding to wipe the files and bring down the backup only to find the backup hadn’t worked! That tested a few friendships as well as the disaster recovery plan! You live and learn! Always make sure you have a proper backup.

Do you plan to undertake additional training courses?

Yes, more Windows and networking development.

What’s been the biggest life-saver of a purchase or procedure?

As we deal with everything from Windows XP down to DOS-based applications, and everything in between, a laptop with a laplink cable, along with FastLynx, are still the tools that save a lot of time and effort.

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