Cameron McDuffie

IT Management

As an undergraduate Integrated Information Technology student, I have had the opportunity to take many technology classes, undergo multiple research projects, and work as a full time IT Manager at the College of Engineering and Computing. Two key experiences, ITEC 447 and my current job, taught me how to properly manage and secure IT environments. My in-class and out-of-class experiences greatly enhanced my knowledge of IT Management, which influenced my decision to pursue GLD in the pathway of Research.

As an Integrated Information Technology major, I am required to take multiple management-based classes. ITEC 447, Management of Information Technology, was one that stood out. The course was taught by Dr. Mulchahey, an adjunct professor who is still working in the field. He was able to use examples from his past experiences in the field to further enhance the lessons being taught in the classroom.

Before taking this class, I was unaware of the business side of IT. Technical knowledge is necessary to work in this field, but an awareness and understanding of the business component is just as important. The most crucial statement that I learned in this class was that at the end of the day, the main purpose of Information Technology is to support the needs of the business. Without the business, there is no IT department, and without an IT department, there is no modern business.

We were taught many concepts that proved this statement to be true. A business's number one goal is to make money. To make money, you must spend money. One major role of IT Managers is to upgrade digital equipment. When deciding what to procure, we must make the best decision for the business. Two crucial aspects of this decision are the Return on Investment (ROI) and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). The product must support the business's needs, while being cost-effective and reliable. In class we had to calculate the ROI of multiple business cases.

The ROI is net income divided by the original cost of investment times 100. If I hire a contractor for $1000 and they make me $10000, then my ROI would be 90%. TCO is the total cost of an expense. Let's say I purchase 500 computers. Not only is there an initial cost, but there are other expenses such as initial setup, maintenance, the electricity it takes to power them, the internet connection it takes to connect them, and the eventual surplus effort when they become End-of-life (EOL).

Below [Fig. 1] is one of the business cases that we completed in ITEC 447. The spreadsheet is split into two sections. One is Labor, and the other is Hardware/Software. Each cost is broken down into 4 year costs, with totals on each end. For example, the Project Manager charges $84 an hour. If the project needs them full time for the first two years and part time for the last two years, then their total cost is $524,160.

Figure 1. A TCO spreadsheet from one business case in ITEC 447.

The ROI is laid out below. [Fig. 2] The yearly costs are taken from the TCO, and the yearly benefits are calculated based on organization's growth, the project's effectiveness, and lifespan utilization. This growth over 4 years is visualized in [Fig. 3], showing a positive yield at year 2.

Figure 2. The yearly and cumulative costs and benefits.

Figure 3. The yearly and cumulative costs and benefits.

I am currently an IT Manager for the Mechanical Engineering department in the College of Engineering and Computing at the University of South Carolina. I procure, deploy, manage, repair and surplus all devices for this department in 300 Main, McNair, Swearingen, and Horizon I. I troubleshoot all issues that graduate students, faculty, and staff experience, such as hardware issues, software issues, network issues, and account issues.

I have been able to apply the concepts of TCO and ROI in my current position. One of my responsibilities is to procure all IT assets for the mechanical engineering department. It is up to me to make the right decision when it comes to purchasing endpoints, accessories, and all other equipment. One example of this is all Dell purchases that I make. The University of South Carolina has a contract with Dell for items such as computers, monitors, accessories, and servers. When a professor comes to me and tells me that they need a computer, I begin to use the concepts that I learned in class. I ask what their needs are, and how this will be used for their work so that I can make a cost-effective purchase. Does the professor need a Desktop, Laptop, Workstation or Server? What specification of a device do they need? Is this the best decision for the department from a business perspective?

If the average EOL of a standard desktop is 5 years, then it makes sense to start with that for a timeframe. After that, we need to calculate the total initial cost of a deployment. A standard OptiPlex configuration costs ~$1300 after tax. Multiply this by the number of machines to be ordered, add in the yearly costs such as my salary to maintain them, the electricity to power them, the internet to connect them, and the cost of parts for replacement. These considerations would provide me with a solid TCO for a bulk order of desktops.

When calculating the ROI for this example, I would consider the use case. If a group of researchers is able to acquire a new grant because of the technology that they used, I would calculate the value of the grant as the cumulative benefits over the timespan in which the grant renews. 10 new desktops at ~$13000 with other costs on top can yield a $500000 grant, for example.

After extensively researching the Dell product line I can usually answer the questions on the spot. A standard Desktop would be an OptiPlex 5000. The 5 meaning a '5 series' out of 3, 5 and 7. The '0' meaning it is desktop form factor. The second '0' meaning 10th generation (0-9, starting over at 0). The last '0' meaning it has an Intel processor, instead of an AMD (5). As of writing this, a standard configuration for an OptiPlex 5000 would consist of an i7-12700, 16GB DDR5, a 512GB NVMe SSD, and a proprietary 260W PSU. Due to the frequency of requests for new devices, it is a necessity for me to understand these components and the associated price. After doing the due diligence and research, I can make the best decision for the mechanical engineering department as one of their IT managers. Below [Fig. 4] is a record of tickets that reported for quotes I have made for the months of January and February, for example.

Figure 4. A selective group of tickets for which I made to place procurement orders.

These two experiences have greatly enhanced my IT Management skills. I learned why and how to utilize the concepts of TCO and ROI in the classroom, and applied them to everyday orders at my job as an IT Manager. I plan to continue researching these topics as a GLD student in the Research Pathway to further my impact on the mechanical engineering department, and give back to the College that has given me so much.