When a general contractor takes on the project to build a new house, they work from approved blue prints. The blue prints are often reviewed by experts who ensure the house plans meet building codes and the specifications of the buyer. Then, the general contractor hires specialists in every area of construction to accomplish parts of the project. Certified plumbers work on the plumbing and sewer. Electricians install the electrical fixtures and wiring, and carpenters build walls and apply trim.
Building and maintaining a corporate network is very much like building a house. It takes planning, expert review, and specialist input. Why is it companies so often assume that if a task is under the purvey of the IT department, they are inherently qualified to do that task?
A common mistake in IT management exists in how we think of technology itself. All devices and IT tasks are treated as if they are the same. But all things “technology” are not the same. In fact, in some cases they are completely separate fields of knowledge.
You would not ask your plumber to install a new electrical panel, would you? In the same vein, you would not ask a junior desktop support specialist to handle cybersecurity or system administration. The jobs are related in the same way a carpenter and electrician are related; they are both working on a house, but doing completely different work. The certifications, methodology, and thought processes needed to successfully complete job requirements are emphatically different.
For example, one vital skill of a help desk support specialist is empathy. The technician needs an ability to relate to their customers’ problems and difficulties. On the other hand, a full-time systems administrator primarily works alone. Typically, they have limited direct customer contact, and empathy is not a high priority on their list of required skills. Instead, system administrators need to think structurally and understand how security effects the day-to-day flow of the network. They also need to be deeply expert in operating systems and how they connect to the internet, and well-versed in firewall and end point management. The two jobs are both considered IT, but they are tremendously different disciplines.
In order to understand if a person is qualified to do the IT work they are undertaking, it is important to examine their certifications. What was the purpose of the certification? Does it directly relate to the main requirements of the job? The next question to ask, is what direct experience do the team members have? Have they worked on a similar project or is this the first time?
Technology is changing rapidly, and continuing education is a big part of the job. When was the last time, (need coma?) your team updated their certifications? If it was more than just a few years ago, it is likely time to take a refresher course or update a certification. The time to learn and practice is not when there is an IT emergency. The optimal time for learning is while operations are steady.
In addition to continuing education, another consideration for IT departments are one-off projects, such as email migrations. Most companies migrate their email to a new server once every few years. If your company is moving to a new email host or changing addresses and your team is fairly new, it is likely that the migration is a first-time project. Yet, email is a vital component for most businesses, and even small mistakes can equate to large losses in productivity for individuals and entire companies. It is necessary that your IT team has no impediments when handling the process, major hinderances can cost even small companies thousands of dollars.
While internal IT support is mandatory for large organizations, it is often more practical for small and medium-sized businesses to seek outside consultants. Managed service providers (MSPs) are third-party contractors specializing in IT support. MSPs are highly skilled teams of individuals with the experience required to implement complex technology solutions. Their service frequently “pays for itself,” saving on additional employment costs, employee learning curves, and possible internal IT mistakes.
So, whether your company is considering moving to the cloud, migrating a domain name, or implementing a new IT system, you should consider outsourcing the work rather than doing it in-house. MSPs offer a variety of services with a certain level of guarantee that your company will not get from IT employees. Just as a general contractor hires plumbers and electricians, contracting a MSP is an efficient way to stay up-to-date on technology, have access to a variety of skills, and address cost and quality issues.