Many companies today operate without a formal IT Department. This is likely due to a constrained budget. Other reasons may include that the business doesn’t feel it needs a full-time IT personnel department, or that with today’s cloud services, most IT operations can be contracted over the internet.
However as companies grow, they can quickly become inundated with IT support issues that make it very difficult to continue offsite and occasional in-person IT support. Face to face professional IT support is usually the most helpful. Even though additional costs are incurred upfront, it can save money in the long run through efficient communication. If a company splits staff time between two positions, such as IT and Marketing, the company loses money on a situation that upfront seems cost effective. People assigned to both roles can never fully dedicate to either as they are constantly interrupted throughout the day. Refocusing after an interruption is also called, “context switching,” and is reported to take anywhere from 5-20 minutes depending on the person to rededicate to the task at hand. As a result, the marketing expert you hired may only be fully focused and productive for a few hours if interrupted frequently, essentially spending the rest of their time trying to regroup their thoughts and projects after each IT issue. It’s important to help growing companies realize what they actually value and want from each employee.
If a company hires a permanent part-time IT expert, issues will be resolved faster with less collateral financial damage than if it continues splitting staff responsibilities. It makes good financial sense to use dedicated staff from other departments for the jobs in which THEY have expertise and were hired for. Otherwise talent and time is wasted in failed attempts to save money through ineffective short-term under-staffing solutions.
There are many options once you have made this decision. You can hire over the internet, and have remote support if the company IT system and culture is amenable. You can hire locally and have someone work part-time on the issues for a few hours each working day, or only have them come in on certain days of the week. Have a plan or idea in mind in advance of interviewing potential candidates so that you’ll be better prepared to express the IT needs of the organization. Always ask for, and CHECK references. Look for experience in either a scholastic intern setting, or direct on the job time served.
The specificity and complexity of software programs and possible variations in hardware configuration will of course affect the hiring requirements for a newly embedded IT staff coming from outside an existing company culture. There may be fewer qualified candidates, and a potential need to train new IT-hire(s) on the company platform and how it functions. However, it’s important to remember that not having an internal IT person could be holding an organization back, and perhaps lowering productivity for the current dual responsibility staff.
Some important questions to help evaluate a company’s IT hiring needs:
– How often do you run into IT problems that slow down the efficiency of your company’s services?
– How often does your system hang up or crash? Is it fast enough to be useful for your staff in other departments?
– How often do you need to pull human resources from one area of business to address IT needs? How satisfied are you with the quality or quantity of work related to that department in light of their additional IT responsibilities?
– Is there a measure of checks and balances when making an IT purchase for the company so that you know you are getting a fair deal?
– Finally, create a survey for your staff to evaluate your existing IT support system, and ask your employees how satisfied they are with the current system; turn around time for issue requests, speed of the network, quality and relevance of the software, etc. This can be an extremely helpful tool because a happy workforce is a productive workforce!