Communication is key
Management may not be aware you are serving in this capacity. This is a problem because you are essentially performing two jobs for the price of one. Not only that, but when you make requests related to system administration, your manager may have a difficult time understanding what is behind your request. This might not only hurt you, but it may hurt the manager and the company (the law of unintended consequences). It is much better if everyone, especially your manager, understands that the business has changed, and that system administration is now a formal part of your job description. If you have found that system administration has crept into your job over the past several years, be sure your manager is aware of this.
As stated earlier, there is probably already someone in your organization who is the “real” system administrator; he or she is likely located in the IT department. This can cause no end of problems. Again, communication is key. I have seen many a good broadcast engineer get caught up in the turf war between IT and broadcast technology. If the organization is not clear about roles, then top management may question why in the world two IT departments are needed. As a broadcast engineer, it may fall to you to help educate your manager about the role you have found yourself in and how that differs from regular office IT.
Lastly, if you find yourself in the role of system administrator, please remember you are there to serve the needs of the organization; don’t become a pain. Sometimes people who are in charge of systems treat these systems as their own personal kingdom. You will do yourself and your career a huge favor if you keep in mind that, without the creative and business types who frequently use the systems we administer, we would be out looking for work.
—Brad Gilmer is president of Gilmer & Associates, executive director of the Advanced Media Workflow Association and executive director of the Video Services Forum.