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 third.
Last week I reviewed the total costs of hiring a full time person. This week I will be considering IT leadership and the other proactive roles needed in the organization.
Proactive IT Leadership
Information Technology needs Leadership.
Companies that choose to hire an internal employee (full time or part time) need to recognize that they are now in the IT business, and they need to actively lead the IT path for their organization over the short term and long term. Every organization needs an employee that dedicates time to being the Chief Information Officer (CIO).
This CIO function is extraordinarily challenging as a part-time role, as they would have to balance this function off the side of their desk while also trying to be effective at one or more different roles. What tends to happen is the more urgent elements of the various responsibilities get the most attention. The long-term CIO leadership tends to get neglected because it always seems like it can wait “until things settle down.”
Similarly, a great CIO usually doesn’t make a great day-to-day support technician and vice versa. The two roles take different skills, experience, and processes that aren’t as complementary as one might hope.
To be able to see the whole forest while you’re also examining specific trees takes rare talent and discipline.
Every company also needs to have a consistent Systems Administrator, and this is another set of skills altogether. This function is responsible for maintaining IT on an ongoing basis. This role needs to be methodically scheduled, structured, and adhered to consistently.
What tends to happen in organizations where there is a single person trying to fulfill the IT role is that the important duties of the CIO and Systems Administrator get neglected. The value of putting out today’s fire, in the moment, is seen as more important than investing in the future. Further, the nature of the roles are diverse enough that companies typically hire someone with the propensity for one of the roles, but not all of them.
We’ve segregated each of these primary roles; these are all different people in our organization. We call our Virtual CIO “Business Technology Navigators” (BTNs), and our Systems Administrators “Dolphin Defenders.” Both of these roles can ignore the noise of the reactive issues – they are sheltered by our dedicated Service Desk team. Our BTNs can instead spend time understanding our clients’ business and creating an IT roadmap.
Meanwhile, our Dolphin Defenders can consistently engage in the critical process of applying our best practices, regardless of what the other roles they are immersed in.
Next week I will be examining the dangers of over-investing in IT support.