As most of you know, I have been a Lone DBA for 15+ years and during that time I have learned a thing or two about how to survive on my own in relatively large environments. One of those things is knowing when to admit you cannot do it all. Working alone on 56 servers you can imagine how the workload can seem insurmountable. There are times when in one week I will do 70+ tasks, not including project work and daily monitoring. To manage and get this type of workload accomplish you have to learn to work smarter not harder. That’s when you have to enlist help and hire consultants.
But I am Afraid
Many people think that hiring consultants is admitting you are incapable of doing your job. Some think that if you hire consultants, it opens the door for the company to think that they may not need an “in house” DBA. It may lead them to just hire a consulting company to do the work. At the last company I worked for employees frowned and complained every time a consultant was brought in for anything. Some even refused to share knowledge hoping to protect their jobs somehow. I think this is nonsense. You shouldn’t worry about being replaced by consultants. A consultant only has superficial knowledge of the company. You are the one that knows the whys, how’s, and understand the needs of the business. The consultants don’t. Don’t let it scare you.
Free Up Your Time
The biggest opponent I have to contend with as a Lone DBA is time. I have no time; every minute of my work day is used. My world is all about prioritizing what needs to get done. Sometimes there is just not enough time in the day. Hiring a consultant doesn’t mean you can’t do the work; it means you are managing your work load.
I hire consultants from time to time to free up my plate and cover some of the workload so I am able to focus on higher priorities. At times, I use them to do the normal redundant or routine admin work, little things that add up to a lot of time in a week. On other occasions, I admittedly give them stuff I don’t want to do, or get tired of doing (but if you know me, I never really get “tired” of doing anything DBA related, I am just proving a point). I will also give them the big projects that take too much time. Time is invaluable. For example, I may need to build a new cube. That as you may know, takes a lot of time. I know how to build and design cubes, but why should I spend hundreds of hours working on that when I can farm that out?
Do You Want to Take Vacation Ever?
Vacation, what’s that? Most DBA’s can take vacation without having to do work, because there is someone to cover and share your responsibilities. When it’s just you; you take work on vacation with you. One of the best benefits of hiring a consultant or a DBA service is to be able to leave that work load at work and take a real vacation. It took me years to realize this. I took my first vacation without work just earlier this year, it was wonderful to hand the reins over for a week and not have to worry about it.
However, there are a few gotchas to admitting you can’t do everything and hiring a consultant. One of the main one for me is giving up what you like to do. I love the core DBA stuff; turning that over to someone else to do is not easy for me. Relinquishing that can be very tough. I also find that having to spend time hand holding the consultant is another gotcha. Consultants do not know the ins and outs of your environment. Getting them started on a project can take time away from you but in the end it’s worth it.
The moral of the story is I think it’s hugely important to admit to yourself that you can’t do it all. It took years for me to realize that I don’t have to do it all. If you are juggling a workload for many when you are just one consider hiring help. You’ll thank me for it.