When you run a small business, it’s common for your employees to wear a lot of different hats. That means the same person who is creating invoices and doing administrative work may also be working on marketing and social media projects.
While this versatility is a great way for employees to learn or improve skills, it can also prevent them from refining their core competency or focusing on a specific specialty. They may end up juggling multiple roles, and eventually, they’ll inevitably drop a ball or two.
For small businesses, this juggling act is most noticeable in the IT department. Hiring multiple IT specialists to handle different aspects of your infrastructure is typically out of the question and the budget. Instead, you’ll likely look for an IT manager who is a generalist — someone who does a little bit of everything — but that person may not be able to give your IT the complete support and attention that it deserves.
IT Manager Job Requirements
Unfortunately, it’s rare — perhaps even impossible — for one person to do it all when it comes to your business’ technology. To effectively oversee your IT infrastructure, someone would need to be able to manage your vendors, hardware, software, VOIP, security, cloud services and all the integrated applications you’re using. On top of that, they’d need to be able to anticipate the ways the technology landscape is changing and make sure your company is equipped to navigate it. They’d also need to be well versed in multiple programming languages and understand network and system administration. Not only is this a tall order to fill from a time standpoint, it’s also extremely challenging to find someone who has adequate expertise in all of these areas.
It’s also important to make sure your chosen IT manager is a good fit for your company culture. While company culture is important in large companies, it’s even more critical for small businesses. In an office of just two or three people, one wrong fit can create tension and disrupt productivity. So, as you look for someone to fill that crucial IT role, find someone who has the right tech skills, communication skills and demeanor. They’ll need to be able to interact with vendors, understand the IT challenges facing other staff members and provide advice or training to help employees resolve problems of all sizes.
Hiring an IT manager requires you to closely examine your company’s needs and define its greatest challenges. Bringing on an IT professional, even a generalist, is expensive; according to Glassdoor, the average annual salary of an IT manager is $85,000, with the low end starting at $58,000.
One option is to determine your company’s specific technology needs and top priorities — moving to a cloud-based system or relaunching a website, for example — and then look for an IT professional who has the specific strengths and areas of expertise to achieve your goals. (Keep in mind, however, that IT pros are in high demand right now, and many of the best and brightest are being recruited by large companies offering fat paychecks and a wealth of perks.)
But what about the areas of technology that your new hire is not proficient in? You’ll need to have a plan in place to ensure that other areas of your infrastructure are being managed as well. There are many tech challenges that you should not attempt on your own or with an inexperienced IT person. So when choosing this route, you should also consider hiring an additional IT generalist or outsourcing routine tasks to a third party to ensure everything is handled.
The second option is to hire an IT generalist who might have a broader range of experience but might not have the depth of expertise you’d like in certain specific areas. If you’re not sure what your exact IT needs are, looking for a generalist with a versatile resume might be a good option.
Filling Your IT Position Without Breaking the Bank
It’s frustrating to feel as though you have to compromise on what you want because of what you can afford, but many small business owners feel like that’s their only option when it comes to getting professional IT help. That’s why more companies are considering working with a managed IT services provider.
When hiring a managed services provider, or MSP, you get a solution that allows you to get the depth of experience you need across a broad spectrum of technical services. Instead of hiring one or two IT staff, with an MSP you’ll have access to an entire team of experts. It’s like having your own enterprise-level IT department to keep every aspect of your IT infrastructure operating as effectively and securely as possible.
This type of outsourcing has been growing — particularly among small businesses — as cloud technology, automation and cybersecurity have become increasingly important. In some cases, medium-size or large companies use an MSP to complement their existing IT staff, freeing valuable time so their staff can work on strategic internal projects. In the small business world, an MSP can take the place of an IT manager, providing round-the-clock service that a single employee simply cannot offer. Using an MSP allows you to cut the cost of your IT management while gaining better support for your infrastructure.
If you’re looking for more information on managed IT services offered in Atlanta, Georgia, or managed IT services throughout the greater Southeast, including Tennessee, North and South Carolina and Florida, download our free eBook Managed IT services: Better Than Hiring an IT Pro? You’ll learn more about what you can expect when hiring an IT pro, the pros and cons of hiring one for your business and new solutions to IT hiring problems.