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Managing Information Technology: the 4 IT roles needed

In many companies today, employees and leaders alike feel like managing is holding them back. You see what competitors are working with, and you’re worried you’re falling behind. You’ll never catch up. Most days, you spend more time trying to get your software to do what it’s supposed than you do on real work.

Unreliable, outdated, and poorly integrated systems lead to tons of duplicated tasks, confusion, inefficiency, and tension among management and staff. Some days, it’s infuriating. How are you supposed to train and retain good employees? They bounce as soon as they see the dysfunctional technology infrastructure they’re expected to work with.

This isn’t how technology should be.

Managing Information Technology
Managing

Photo 121274023 / Technology © Alexandersikov | Dreamstime.com

When IT is working within a company, it supports employee performance rather than hindering it. It helps you meet business goals consistently and cost-effectively. Technology becomes an invisible force shaping your success.

When it’s not working, most often it comes down to a major misconception you’ll want to clear up before you can get down to the business of managing IT.

The Misconception About IT Support

When you think of IT management, chances are fixing and supporting computers and software comes to mind. So… resetting passwords, installing updates, opening tickets with the helpdesk, am I right? But the old days of Managed IT Services have passed.

Technology is integral and inseparable across industries and business sizes. Successful businesses have undergone a digital transformation that creates seamless harmony among technology, your people, business operations, and customers.

So, sure. IT still does the above things.

They provide all the hands-on support you and your people need. But these are only the most basic aspects of IT. They represent some of the more reactive responsibilities.

Sometimes leaders set up IT for a more reactive team approach, often due lack of expertise regarding what makes IT effective.

Within this IT model, the team puts out fires that don’t exist when we take a more proactive approach to IT. This more proactive approach better represents what Services should be today.

For many businesses, an outsourced IT team most sufficiently meets this need. That’s true whether you need support for personal computers, business process engineering, or IT consulting.

Leadership should always be proactive–not just solving problems and, instead, helping you meet business goals.

What Managing Looks Like

Managing should be about two things:

  1. Keeping employee and customer data safe
  2. Leveraging technology to improve the employee experience

Notice, we said employee experience… not customer experience. That’s because when you improve employee experience, they naturally improve customer experience. A Gallup Poll found that employers with highly engaged employees have 20% higher sales.

When it comes down to it, as we support our clients, we believe the feelings employees have about technology is as important as its function.

But let’s face it: You don’t “feel” technology or even think much about it most of the time. When everything is working as it should, technology is invisible. They just come in and engage in day-to-day operations. They’re productive.

Employees only “feel” technology when something isn’t quite working as expected. During these times, emotions like resentment and frustration creep in. That destroys your employee morale.

A proactively run IT team supported by a dedicated helpdesk can influence how your employees feel about technology. And, by extension, how they perceive the company they work for.

What’s it take to be an IT manager? 

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10 Areas of Expertise Needed for Management

Modern IT services management has different practice areas, requiring different experience levels and expertise in:

  • Strategic leadership
  • Vendor management 
  • Network & Server Architecture and Administration  
  • Application and Hardware Maintenance  
  • Monitoring and Alerts
  • Helpdesk & Desktop Support
  • A layered security plan across IT
  • Enterprise resource planning
  • Industry Compliance
  • Collaborative solutions, including Remote Work

Many businesses today feel they have limited resources to allocate the IT, so hiring one IT person may seem the most they can do. But just take a look at everything that one person needs to know! {see above}

It’s rare for one person to be an expert in all of these, if not impossible. So hiring an “IT guy or gal” doesn’t work if you’re managing information technology.

It would help if you had a team. And, yes, when you outsource IT, every business can gain access to the expertise needed.

With a team, you get:

  • Expertise across key areas
  • Tactical and strategic planning support
  • Availability 100% of the time – people need time off. An on-call rotation gives each team member the time they need to recharge, experience work-life balance, spend time with family, and function at their best. Say “No” to burning out your one IT person. Instead, you can work with a well-rested and responsive team ready to make a diverse set of skills and expertise available to you.

As an aside, burnout is a BIG PROBLEM in IT because so many businesses mistakenly think one person can do it all. Those in often struggle to explain why this isn’t possible and one eager IT person may oversell the vastness of their expertise to show they meet job qualifications. But the secret is, when you outsource IT to a Managed Services Partner, it is possible to access all the areas of expertise you need for a reasonable price. That’s a win-win for both our techs and your business.

The 4 Roles Needed in Managed IT Services for Small Businesses

On your team, at minimum, you need these key players:

  • An IT Leader – A person focused on strategy, comprehensive and customer security management. These might include cloud computing, data management, ERP system. You may need a data warehouse, customer relationship management, etc.
  • A systems administrator – A person focused on server infrastructure and application management. These could include security across all areas, and escalations from day-to-day support 
  • A network administrator – A person focused on network architecture, network security, enterprise resource planning, and escalations from day-to-day support 
  • Day-to-day support – People who handle helpdesk, maintenance, and monitoring

These are the 4 corners of Managing . Without these, computer systems don’t support your business strategies. Productivity and performance suffer. Once you have these in place, you’ll want to begin leveraging technology to grow your company. And guess what? Your outsourced information technology team should grow with you.

As companies grow, they need more support in those four areas, adding in compliance and internal audit support. So make sure that any outsourced IT you choose has this “next level” of expertise. Business growth is the goal. But outgrowing the company that manages information technology is a headache you don’t want to face down the road.

How to Manage IT

1. Outsource for Expertise 

Demand for managed services has grown exponentially in recent years. Often times the latest technology is required to remain competitive.

Companies of all sizes in your industry are employing new technologies to compete with you and drain your market share.

These can include:

  • Computer-aided design
  • Big Data and Analytics
  • Automation
  • Machine learning
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Cloud computing

As competitors begin implementing game-changers like these,  other companies are having to get creative to compete.

Managed Services Providers (MSPs) have staff with broad experience and technology access. Managed IT services for small businesses can deliver to smaller companies cost-effectively. That’s because they’re working with several clients and industries.

This efficient use of resources means they’re ready to tackle your IT problems anywhere but they’re not “sitting” on your payroll. Pay for what you need. Now, that’s the way to go.

MSPs have practice on massive projects. For example, an MSP has done dozens of cloud migrations to/from various platforms. An internal team doesn’t regularly get to do more than 1 of these at any given company during their tenure. That can make a big difference in how well your migration goes.

2. Stop Vetting Candidates Yourself

Do you really know what to look for in an IT leader? Like so many things, if you’re not in the IT world all the time, you don’t know what you don’t know, are we right?

The IT labor market is stretched thin. Hiring & recruiting for roles is difficult even with many candidates to choose from. Working with an MSP allows you to focus on hiring core-business personnel. We handle hiring skilled technology personnel. It’s what we do!

So, don’t vet, interview or hire candidates yourself for every role. Your MSP has the IT leadership experience and expertise to hire a team of top-notch professionals ready to take on your IT environment.

3. Stop Multi-Tasking

Finding a trustworthy partner allows you to focus on your core business requirements, not IT.  

Focus on selecting one great IT partner that will lead everything IT. That leaves you to manage other business operations. Running IT organizations is what MSPs do, so the rest will fall in line if you’ve got the right partner in play.

4. Develop a Strategy, Roadmap and Budget Aligned with Business Goals 

This is critically important for running an IT practice in any company. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re destined to be reactive, letting day-to-day requests determine what IT looks like. This leads to shadow IT.

What Is Shadow IT?

Shadow IT happens when people in different departments update and install technologies without IT oversight. When this occurs, the employees are frustrated and fed up. They don’t feel that IT or company management is solving their problems so they can do their job effectively. They start looking for their own solutions.

This can have major security, productivity and fiscal impacts. Everything is disjointed. Employees experience a lot of needless extra work when trying to work across departments. The layered security approach you need to maintain data security becomes impossible in these settings.

We take a two-step approach to developing a strategy for our clients.

  1. Understanding the organization’s business goals. Which of those will require IT assistance with new or better IT?
  2. Understanding what exists in the information technology environment today. Then create an application inventory.

Our CIO advisory services and consulting work with you hands-on. We help you align your strategy with your goal and develop a clear and forward-thinking road map to get from here to there. We help you understand how technologies support your goals and which cloud services make the most sense for you.

5. Leverage Best Practices and Industry Standards

Your MSP should create IT policies according to best IT practice guidelines like:

  • ISO 27001
  • NIST
  • CMMC

and industry-required regulations like:

  • HIPAA
  • SOC 2 Type 2
  • SOX

Once these are identified, we can define which standards your company should drive towards. We can outline how we should build your IT infrastructure and manage it.

6. Create Operating Procedures that Align with Business Processes and Computer Systems

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are vital for regulatory compliance and employee experience. Your Outsourced IT partner in works with leadership across your company. Together, we develop SOPs that work. We ensure that information technologies support rather than hinder SOPs.

7. Manage the Data / IT

Seamless information management and systems design are critical to performance. Data must remain secure but at the same time accessible to those who need it for their jobs.

Any aspect of IT that can be centrally managed should be. Make sure dashboards exist for antivirus, patching, encryption, and ticket statistics – just to name a few.

Yes, outsourced IT takes care of all of this so you don’t have to.

8. Manage Day-to-Day Requests 

Understanding the types of tickets staff raise is just as important as monitoring the infrastructure. If you gain this understanding, leadership can add projects to the roadmap. We can address commonly experienced problems and issues, stopping fires before they start.

A typical example of frequent tickets is password resets. We must balance security with productivity. If you know employees are struggling with the number of passwords in your organization, that’s wasting time. On top of that, a poor password infrastructure is a major security issue. People who can’t remember passwords write them down, significantly increasing the risk of a data breach.

As your IT partner, we find a solution and move toward implementing it. You could roll out a password keeper, configure a single sign-on with your directory services. Or leverage another single sign-on tool like Okta or OneLogin.

A mindful and actively engaged outsourced IT team will look for opportunities like these. Over time, these will improve employee experience and security.

Outsourced Information Technology Management from TenisiTech

Managing IT and technology is hard enough. Developing a proactive plan to align business technology with business strategy– that’s even harder.

But with the right IT consulting and management partner, you can seamlessly integrate technology into business processes. We can develop an IT infrastructure that meets the needs of all business sizes and grows with you.

TenisiTech is this kind of partner.

We’ve been helping small businesses make the most out of established and emerging technology. We help them keep data secure while creating a positive employee-technology relationship. Whether you need whole new systems or are looking for an outsourced IT partner to help you make the most of your current technology, we encourage you to schedule a free review session. Learn what’s possible when you have the right IT partner.

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