The “admin of the day” idea

When I joined the adminteam at my current employer, a concept by the name of “admin of the day” was introduced to me. I didn’t find a lot about this topic on the web so I figured I’d share this idea…

The basic idea is, that, when you work in a team of systems administrators, you can likely spend your time more fullfillingly and effectively if you are not regularly disturbed by people entering the room reporting their printer is “broken” or who forgot their login password. Still, these are tasks that have to be taken care of by the team and in order not to just send the apprentice to fix apparently boring and annoying stuff, the concept of the “admin of the day” was born.

The idea is as simple as brilliant: every day (or week), there is 1 (as in “one”) person in the team whom people can report such problems to and who fixes those things. When entering the office, it is clearly indicated on a board who currently is the lucky guy to solve everyday and reoccuring problems so people know who to contact. In an ideal world, people wouldn’t even enter the room because they send email to a ticketing system, but where’s this ideal world anyway … The “aotd” is also the one in charge to read about current security issues, look at the server logs and report about problems occuring and to handle hardware orders. It’s as much an improvement on work quality for the other team members as it is a pain in the ass for the guy whose turn it currently is to be the “admin of the day”.

It can be weird in the beginning to build firewall clusters one week and then change printer cartridges and install software on windows clients the next week. But once you got used to it (took me about a year and a half …), the concept is a real keeper. It lets the team focus on the important things while the “aotd” keeps other things away from them. Since this is a rotating thing amongst all team members, one only has to do this every $numberofteammembers weeks, so the bigger the team, the less hassle for everyone personally.



4 responses to “The “admin of the day” idea

  1. An interesting concept, indeed. In my opinion it could be even a welcomed diversion to be the aotd: Doing something else sometimes helps to get another view on the tasks of the other weeks.

    But what happens, if the tasks for the aotd are so rare in one week (no printer issues, only one lost login) that he has much spare time? Should he shift back to his normal work?

  2. If that happens, which is a really rare situation, the aotd is supposed to fix so called “bugs” (which maybe is not the best term for what we consider “bugs”), which the team usually fixes in something we call “the bugslot” on thursdays.

  3. Must read: Lemoncell, Thomas, The Practice of System Administration which is actually on the Read-This-or-FOAD for potential google operations candidates and rightly so. The obvious benefit is your time wasted on tedious day-to-day tasks being strictly limited. Secondary benefits are knowledge transfer and a healthy pressure on the team to eliminate individual solutions in favour of team-consent based best practices. Good to know, that we agree on the concept and that it might be worth the effort to push into that general direction in Berlin. Did it really take so long to embrace the idea?

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