IT Departments are struggling to deliver the all-important business improvement projects because too much of their time is spent fighting fires - keeping the existing networks and applications operating. At the same time, there's no scope for hiring additional full-time staff to ease that burden.
The SME world mostly outsources its entire IT to a Managed Service Provider, but you're too big for that and don't want to lose your team because you value the knowledge they've built up about your business.
Many growing and scaling businesses see technology as part of that strategy. For some it will spearhead the growth, while for others it’s a significant component alongside several other plans.
At the same time, every new system that’s installed increases the support effort for already struggling teams. Not fixing systems when they break, or failing to do the all-important security patching just isn’t an option. With only so many people and so many hours in the day, the non-essential project work will get postponed until this afternoon, or tomorrow, or next week, or "we’ll start it next month, definitely".
This often results in project work getting patchy effort applied to it because committing decent periods of dedicated time has become impossible. It also shouldn’t be underestimated how detrimental these context switches in work can be. The mindset to work on a new IT project is entirely different to that of bringing a broken system back to life (with an entire business impatiently watching over your shoulder while you do so).
Of course, the solution is simply to hire more IT staff. Dedicate some to support and the others to projects. Except these projects aren’t always running, so then there’s an over-staffing situation. Many businesses are trying to maintain head-count, not increase it.
IT Employee Mindset
Having hired many IT people over the last 20+ years, there’s a mindset that IT people have that’s often at-odds with “normal” employees. While remuneration is important, it’s very seldom the top driver. Once it’s been agreed, something else becomes much more important - job satisfaction.
But again, that’s perhaps a bit different from “normal” job satisfaction. For most IT people, job satisfaction is about being given challenging tasks. They don’t want to learn something new, do it well for the next few years and be able to walk out the door at 5pm and not think about work until the next day.
Instead they want to be constantly given new challenges - to work on things they’ve not seen before that are ideally somewhere near the front end of leading technology. That keeps their skills up and keeps them marketable. Yet strangely, it’s seldom about taking themselves out to that market, provided they are happy and satisfied with their job.
That sits at complete odds with daily support fire-fighting challenges. There’s never enough time to trace these problems back to the root cause, so changes can be made to prevent or diminish the frequency at which these problems resurface. Instead it’s about a quick fix (sometimes the infamous “reboot”) and move on to the next fire or maybe get an hour or two on some much more satisfying project work.
On top of all that, we now have Cybersecurity to deal with. Locking down networks, systems and applications to make them as impenetrable as possible is almost a project in its own right. However, finding the time, resource and backing to do what appears to be mostly “tinkering” is usually a struggle. Even after something like a ransomware intrusion, it can be hard getting approval to spend time looking for areas of vulnerability.
We’ve had a lot of success in merging our support engineers into our customers’ IT teams, working remotely, but working as one.
Instead of maybe one or two permanent hires you get a whole team of certified engineering staff at your disposal - every day, for a fixed cost. They bring with them a first class monitoring system which means they’re constantly watching the ebb and flow of your network, often jumping in to solve brewing problems before they become showstoppers.
Because we are working with companies large and small across the globe, this brings a very significant cross pollination of ideas and observations that self-contained, internal IT teams don’t have at their disposal.
We also have a #OneTeam mantra. What happens in the team, stays in the team. We’re not after anyone’s job (to be blunt, we really aren’t interested). Our satisfaction comes from bringing stability and reliability to our customers’ systems. To do that, we have some leading edge tools and the skills to use them, which is where our engineers’ job satisfaction comes from.
As that reliability improves, we then have the time to start reviewing and implementing things like Cybersecurity best practices. These are our "leading edge of technology" projects.
That frees up your own staff to execute these critical business growth projects.