For larger small businesses (25 to 100 computers/employees), the IT labour requirements of their computer network can be significant enough that consideration is given to hiring a full time employee to dedicate to the IT Support roles. The alternatives are having an in-house employee support the organization on a part time basis, while also serving other significant roles. Or a company can outsource their IT support to companies like Smart Dolphins. There are a number of considerations here, many of which are often overlooked. I will be sharing some of these considerations through a series of six blogs over the coming weeks. Here is the fourth.
Last week I wrote about IT leadership and the other proactive roles needed in the organization. This week I will be examining the dangers of over-investing in I.T. support.
I have previously mentioned that an organization can be of an awkward size where they hire a full time person, but really don’t have enough work for this person. Over investing in IT infrastructure is actually not a huge problem in my mind, if that over investment is recognized and managed as such. That recognition is critical otherwise I’ve seen two things happen that don’t end well in these situations:
- The employee feels the incentive to show their value by appearing busy. This can evolve to a lot of “make work” projects. I’ve seen more than one situation where a small organization has paid dearly to have their IT person painstakingly create reams of relatively-useless technical documentation (nearly all of which could be collected automatically with the right tools) and/or “automate” the environment using scripts and customized solutions that only he/she understands. Sometimes these things happen from pure boredom – IT people like challenge and to learn. Idle hands…
- The employee ends up with additional responsibilities outside of leading and maintaining the IT infrastructure that distract them from doing their core function well. The end result is often the person can only get to the fires and is never allowed to get ahead of things.
Smart Dolphins is in this business and will profit most by optimizing the amount of labour needed to lead and manage each of our clients’ networks effectively. We have to pay our people and don’t ask our customers for any additional fees if we spend more time on their network than necessary – in short, we don’t have idle hands. We also aren’t going to take on extracurricular activities like our clients’ external-facing client support, sales or whatever might draw that internal employee’s “spare” capacity. We focus on doing one thing well for our clients and optimize the labour needed to do that.
Are you worried your internal person has “made work” or become overly distracted? I’d be happy to discuss whether or not it would make sense for us to assess your situation. Give me a call.
Next week I will be discussing the challenge of developing and adhering to process for the one-person tech department.