Many small and medium businesses that I come across that have employed their own internal IT staff are never happy. Neither are the IT staff employed there.
I’m generally talking about businesses with upwards of 30 users who thought it wise to employ one or two internal IT staff – often because they saw no value, yet lots of bills, from their previous external IT support partner.
The reason I believe this is a lose/lose situation for the business owner and the IT worker is simple: Misunderstanding and a lack of a technology strategy in SMBs.
The Usual SMB IT Staff Scenario
So the small business IT manager is brought on-board and tasked with “making everything run better and making us more efficient” or similar. The IT guy is upbeat in his first week, dreaming of all the projects he can implement to make the place work like clockwork and improve the business.
But the business owner wants the IT guy to sort out “all the slow computers”. He tells all the staff to call the IT guy if they have any issues with their computers. Before long, the IT guy is spending 80% of his time fighting spot fires and performing mundane tasks like removing Fred from sales’ spyware infestation (for the 3rd time that week).
The IT guy is given no budget nor time to actually look at the situation holistically and develop long term plans to reduce problems and improve capabilities in the business through technology. Before long, the IT guy wants to leave and the business owner wonders why he ever employed him!
Dare to be Different
My advice for SMB owners is this: Only hire a permanent IT staff member if you have a clear strategy about the capabilities you are looking for from technology to achieve your business goals. Only ever let you internal IT staff work on projects that contribute to the company’s core business. Outsource any function that is more about supporting your internal resources and processes rather than a function of contributing to your core business.
Believe it or not, but many businesses are better off investing the $60,000 it might cost in salary for the internal IT guy, and then perhaps another $30,000 in outsourcing IT functions to a managed service provider. Why? Because that $30,000 investment actually frees up your $60,000 investment to become a revenue generating asset.
Ha? Basically, you might spend $30k to free up 80% of your IT managers time, allowing him to work on core business functions that ultimately generate revenue. With all that time, perhaps the IT Manager can implement a CRM system that sees repeat business double. Perhaps the IT Manager can develop a mobile sales system for your sales force, allowing them to spend less time in the office, more time on site and make 10% more sales pre month as a result. Perhaps the IT Manager streamlines you internal ordering process system, allowing you to expand your business without adding additional administrative employees. The point is, more often than not as far as I have seen, the business will generate a huge ROI on their cost of outsourcing, and generate it fast!
The end result is this: You as the business owner are happy because you can see quantifiable changes implemented as a result of hiring your IT guy. Your IT Manager is happy because he’s working on interesting projects that develop real results for his employer – and hopefully he’s being rewarded for it!
During the current economic climate, companies making the most of their existing resources to drive their core business goals and outsourcing non-core business functions will be the ones to prosper and thrive.