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Managing Information Technology: the 4 IT roles needed

In many companies today, employees and leaders alike feel like managing information technology 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 to 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Unreliable, outdated, and poorly integrated systems lead to tons of duplicated tasks, confusion, inefficiency, and tension among management and staff.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 Information Technology

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 Information Technology 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 Information Technology Looks Like

Managing Information technology 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 does it take to be an IT manager? 

10 Areas of Expertise Needed for Information Technology Management

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

Vendor Management

Outsourcing IT services has become increasingly common for organizations, both for-profit and non-profit,  looking to streamline operations, reduce costs, and access specialized expertise. 

One crucial aspect of MSPs (Managed Service Providers) is effective vendor management. By entrusting this responsibility to an outsourced IT services provider, businesses can reap numerous benefits.

Here are 5 benefits to consider:

  1. Better Communication and Coordination

Vendor management by an outsourced IT services provider ensures efficient communication and coordination between the business and its various technology vendors. This facilitates smoother operations and reduces the risk of misunderstandings or delays in project delivery. With a dedicated team managing vendor relationships, businesses can focus on their core activities without getting bogged down in vendor-related issues.

  1. Past Experience

Outsourcing its vendor management allows a business to leverage the provider’s expertise in negotiating contracts and service-level agreements (SLAs). Experienced IT service providers have a deep understanding of industry standards and can negotiate favorable terms that align with the business’s objectives while minimizing risks. This results in cost savings and better value for the services rendered.

  1. Staying Up-To-Date

Furthermore, outsourcing vendor management enables businesses to stay up-to-date with the latest technological advancements and industry best practices. IT service providers are constantly monitoring the market for emerging trends and innovations, ensuring that the business remains competitive and agile in its technology landscape.

  1. Managing Performance

Additionally, vendor management by an outsourced IT services provider enhances accountability and performance monitoring. The provider assumes responsibility for overseeing vendor performance, ensuring compliance with SLAs, and addressing any issues that may arise promptly. This proactive approach minimizes downtime and maximizes the efficiency of IT operations.

  1. Risk Mitigation

Lastly, outsourcing vendor management can help businesses mitigate risks associated with vendor relationships, such as vendor lock-in or dependency on a single vendor. By diversifying vendor partnerships and maintaining a vendor-neutral stance, the IT services provider can offer unbiased recommendations and solutions that best suit the business’s needs.

Summary

By leveraging their outsourced IT provider’s capabilities in managing vendor relationships, businesses can optimize their IT operations and focus on driving growth and innovation.

Network & Server Architecture and Administration

Outsourcing IT services has become increasingly popular for businesses looking to optimize their operations while reducing costs. Among the most crucial aspects of outsourced IT services is the management of network and server architecture. To provide professional-grade network and server architecture and administration services, an outsourced IT services provider must possess a comprehensive set of expertise.

Below are 5 skillsets to look for:

  1. Network Design and Implementation

Proficiency in network design and implementation is one of the most important skillsets to look for. This includes a deep understanding of networking principles, protocols, and technologies. The provider must be adept at designing networks that are scalable, secure, and efficient to meet the unique needs of each client.

  1. Server Architecture

Additionally, expertise in server architecture is essential. This involves designing, configuring, and maintaining server systems to support the organization’s applications and data storage requirements. A thorough understanding of server hardware, operating systems, virtualization technologies, and cloud platforms is necessary to ensure optimal performance and reliability.

  1. Cybersecurity

A critical aspect of network and server administration is security. An outsourced IT services provider must have extensive knowledge of cybersecurity best practices and tools to protect the client’s network and servers from cyber threats. This includes implementing firewalls, intrusion detection systems, encryption protocols, and regular security audits to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities.

  1. IT Systems Optimization

Furthermore, proficiency in performance monitoring and optimization is crucial for maintaining the health and efficiency of the network and server infrastructure. The provider must be capable of monitoring network traffic, server resources, and application performance to identify bottlenecks and optimize system performance accordingly.

  1. Communication and Collaboration

Effective communication and collaboration skills are also essential for an outsourced IT services provider. They must be able to work closely with the client’s internal IT team, understanding their goals and requirements, and providing timely updates and support.

Summary

Providing professional network and server architecture and administration services requires a diverse skill set. By partnering with a capable and experienced outsourced IT services provider such as TenisiTech, businesses can ensure their network and server infrastructure is robust, secure, and well-maintained.

Application and Hardware Maintenance 

Outsourcing IT services has become a strategic choice for many businesses looking to streamline operations and focus on core competencies. Application and hardware maintenance services stand out as a critical component for ensuring seamless business operations. However, delivering these services requires a specialized set of expertise and capabilities.

Ensure that your outsourced IT services provider has these 5 essential capabilities:

  1. Deep Bench in Software Applications and Hardware Systems

Your outsourced IT services provider must possess a deep understanding of the intricacies of both software applications and hardware systems. This includes knowledge of various programming languages, frameworks, and development methodologies for maintaining and troubleshooting applications effectively. Similarly, expertise in hardware maintenance involves familiarity with different types of hardware components, their functionalities, and troubleshooting techniques.

  1. Recent Technological Innovations

Staying abreast of the latest technological advancements is imperative for an IT services provider. Technology evolves rapidly, and outsourced IT service providers need to continuously update their skills and knowledge to address emerging challenges effectively. This includes understanding new software updates, security patches, and hardware innovations to ensure optimal performance and security for clients’ systems.

  1. Analytical Thinking

Problem-solving and critical thinking are important skills to have when providing IT maintenance services. IT environments can be complex, and issues may arise unexpectedly. A competent IT services provider must be able to diagnose problems accurately, devise effective solutions, and implement them efficiently to minimize downtime and disruptions to business operations.

  1. Creating a Partnership

Excellent communication and collaboration skills are essential for interacting with clients, understanding their needs, and providing timely updates on maintenance activities. Clear and transparent communication fosters trust and ensures alignment between the IT services provider and the client organization.

  1. Customer Service

A commitment to quality and customer satisfaction is essential. A professional IT services provider prioritizes delivering high-quality services that meet or exceed clients’ expectations. This entails adhering to industry best practices, following rigorous quality assurance processes, and continuously seeking feedback for improvement.

Summary

Providing professional application and hardware maintenance services demands a combination of technical expertise, adaptability, problem-solving skills, communication abilities, and a dedication to quality. At TenisiTech we embrace these qualities in supporting our clients.

Monitoring and Alerts

These days businesses are increasingly relying on outsourced IT services providers to ensure the smooth operation of their systems. Among the critical services offered by these MSPs (Managed IT Service Providers) are professional monitoring and alert services, which require a high level of expertise to execute effectively.

Below are 5 critical skills to look for:

  1. Monitoring Platform Experience Level

Expertise in various monitoring tools and technologies is essential. Outsourced IT services providers must possess in-depth knowledge of monitoring platforms capable of tracking the performance and health of diverse IT environments, including networks, servers, applications, and databases. A variety of tools are available to ensure the timely detection of issues and anomalies.

  1. Digital Transformation

Needless to say a deep understanding of IT infrastructure and architecture is indispensable. Providers must be skilled at configuring monitoring solutions to align with the unique requirements of each client’s environment. This includes setting up custom alerts, thresholds, and notifications tailored to specific performance metrics and business priorities.

  1. Analytical Skills

Expertise in interpreting monitoring data is vital. Simply receiving alerts is not sufficient; outsourced IT service providers must possess the analytical skills to discern meaningful patterns from the vast amount of data generated by monitoring systems. This involves the ability to differentiate between normal fluctuations and potential indicators of impending problems, enabling proactive intervention to prevent disruptions.

  1. Cybersecurity

The proliferation of cybersecurity attacks has made a comprehensive understanding of security principles and threats imperative. Monitoring for suspicious activities and potential breaches is paramount. Outsourced IT service providers must be proficient in deploying intrusion detection systems, analyzing security logs, and responding swiftly to security incidents to mitigate risks and safeguard sensitive data.

  1. Collaboration

Effective communication and collaboration skills round out the expertise required for professional monitoring and alert services. Providers must liaise closely with clients to understand their unique business objectives and translate technical insights into actionable recommendations. Clear and concise communication of alerts and status updates fosters transparency and trust between the provider and the client.

Summary

Providing professional monitoring and alert services demands a multifaceted skill set encompassing technical proficiency, analytical acumen, cybersecurity expertise, and effective communication. By leveraging these capabilities, TenisiTech plays a vital role in maintaining the stability, security, and resilience of our clients’ IT ecosystems.

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 information technology 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 information technology 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 information technology helpdesk, maintenance, and monitoring

These are the 4 corners of Managing Information Technology. 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 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, by 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 IT review session. Learn what’s possible when you have the right IT partner.