Forego the standard IT staffing models

Feb 6, 2024 | IT staffing, managed services

From the outset, even the smallest start-up is reliant on IT infrastructure. Digital technology cannot be avoided. For small-to-medium-sized businesses, developing and bringing on staff to support that IT infrastructure is often a low priority compared to ramping up operations and meeting the revenue goals necessary to stay operational. Resources to address IT needs may not be available or at least, are perceived to be unavailable. Management is focused on revenue growth and meeting operational and business requirements, and might be incentivized to direct available funds in these directions, rather than building out a robust and sufficiently risk-averse IT infrastructure. Additionally, they may not have a background that provides sufficient knowledge and experience to identify areas where IT staffing is necessary to maintain a stable, secure and sustainable business.

In a small-to-medium-sized business beginning to explore the development of an IT support staff, or even in a large organization undergoing significant transformation, there may be a tendency to begin the process of IT staffing with a top-level individual–a CTO, IT director or IT manager. Once hired, that individual would be relied on to begin the process of building out an IT staff. Many smaller businesses opt for a jack-of-all-trades approach where they bring in someone they know “is good with computers”, or maybe they use someone already on staff that has technical proficiency. In many cases, this one person maintains other responsibilities in the organization, but is also tasked with finding, implementing, maintaining and troubleshooting technology solutions from hardware to software to hosted services.

Problems facing organizations initiating an IT staff build-out

For any organization, from a small firm looking to bring on its first dedicated IT staffer to a larger organization, there are a number of hurdles that may be encountered. One of the most immediate is the shortage of available skilled IT professionals. No matter what your needs, it may be difficult to find appropriately skilled applicants to meet your staffing requirements. This may mean risky delays in your goal of protecting and securing the IT infrastructure needed to remain competitive. The job market in IT is especially competitive and may make the jack-of-all-trades approach more enticing. However, the reality in most cases where someone with a certain technical savvy is expected to carry the entire IT burden of an organization proves to be more than most actually have the skills for or can handle well given other responsibilities. These are just some of the reasons we are suggesting that you consider setting aside the top-down or build-from-within model and take a different approach.

Another reason these approaches tend to be problematic is that creating an IT department able to cover everything can be unrealistic. Creating an in-house IT team takes time and resources to make sure you have the correct support staff possessing all of the diverse skills needed to meet the many requirements of a sound IT infrastructure. On the scale of a small-to-medium-sized business, costs to provide ample support easily exceed budget. As a result, this model typically does not truly meet the immediate and urgent needs of a developing or transforming organization.

An alternative approach to supply IT staff

So how does a firm looking to strengthen its IT infrastructure and protect itself from vulnerabilities–from cyberattack to single point of failure–protect itself? Partner with a managed service provider (MSP). An MSP is structured to provide diverse support needed by most businesses: patch management, malware defense, perimeter defense, backup solutions, business continuity planning, hosted solutions, help desk support, hardware installation and maintenance to name a few. An MSP will work as a trusted adviser to help you build your IT infrastructure with a solid foundation and plan for growth. They can help you to build an in-house team if that makes sense, or work with your existing in-house guru to supplement and advise them when needed. An MSP has partner agreements with hardware and software vendors that allow small businesses to get the same business-class solutions that larger entities implement. A consumer-grade router does not offer the same protection or performance of a business-class firewall and buying your computers at the local big-box or outlet store is often not the most economic or reliable solution. Reach out to some MSPs and see what they offer. Kick the tires, ask some questions and take another look at how you might fill your need for IT staffing.

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