BERLIN – As the adage goes: It’s hard to find good help these days. Sam Card, CEO of Cards Technology, advises area business owners to leverage in-house IT support with cutting-edge outsourcing from an experienced managed services provider.
Q. What should business owners look for when hiring IT staff?
A. This first step in hiring is to identify what skill set, line-of-business applications and system technologies your business uses and needs. Your goal is to hire a person who can keep your key systems running. So, your office manager’s kid brother who is good with computers is not who you’re looking for.
Depending on the technologies your business uses, your IT hire may need to know Azure, Office 365, servers and remote desktops, along with any other IT solution you may be using. Commonly, you should look for engineering skills to match existing gaps in your technology management. From the novice level to an infrastructure architect, skills vary widely among IT professionals. Larger businesses can afford to hire multiple people with varying levels of expertise and usually have in-house technology departments. Smaller businesses need a managed services provider (MSP) because the monthly fee is often less than the cost of a full-time IT professional.
Once you’ve determined what skills and experience levels you need for your business, write a job description and training plan for the new employee. IT hiring is competitive, and if you don’t have a training plan coupled with a progressive career path, it will be difficult to get the right person. Regular certification training will keep your IT professional’s skills current and could also be used in an incentive plan linked to compensation
Q. What are some of the consequences of hiring the wrong IT person?
A. Frequent problems and disruptions to your infrastructure are your first clue that your IT person is not adequately maintaining your systems. If your budget is set correctly, but your staff person doesn’t have the experience necessary to make the right decisions for your infrastructure, it will begin to stall. You should not have a long list of technology issues.
It’s also important that your IT professionals understand how their department and decisions impact the business as a whole. For example, you don’t install a new point-of-sale update at your restaurant at 5 p.m. on Friday during happy hour.
Q. What should businesses do if they can’t find the right IT talent?
A. It’s very difficult to find the perfect IT person. They have to have the right skill set plus the right personality to run the help desk and work with your end-users. One of the best working arrangements is to augment your internal IT staff with an MSP. And, your IT person can take an occasional vacation without worrying everything will fall apart while he’s gone.
MSPs serve as coaches and consultants to your team and bring extensive knowledge in a wide variety of IT solutions. Small- and medium-sized businesses with around 100 users often use an IT model that includes one or two in-house IT professionals supported by an MSP. The in-house team handles routine operations and end-user needs, while the MSP takes care of higher-level activities, such as structuring IT budgets, strategic plans and implementing special projects.