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As the business world has become more reliant on technology, the position of IT manager has become increasingly crucial. Once only found in larger enterprises, IT managers are now needed in small- to medium-sized businesses to oversee the hardware and software that keep those companies running every day.

What Is the Role of an IT Manager?

For those who focus on your company’s technology 24/7, the role of an IT manager can seem like a bit of a mystery. No, they don’t wear capes. But they might seem like superheroes when they show up to retrieve your missing files or get your Wi-Fi working again. But their understanding of technology means that they can do more than repair or maintain hardware and software when things go wrong though. They also do things such as:

  • Help define your company’s IT infrastructure strategy, architecture and processes
  • Access vendors and create strategies for testing new hardware and software
  • Monitor your IT system’s performance and make recommendations for improving the infrastructure
  • Lead large IT-related projects, such as designing and deploying new IT systems.

When Do You Need an IT Manager?

During their early days, many small businesses get by without an IT manager. Instead, IT operations may be handled by an employee who also has other responsibilities. You, as the owner, may even take on the role yourself. As your business grows, your system becomes more complex, daily operations become busier and you spread your employees or yourself even thinner. That’s when it becomes apparent that you need to hand IT duties off. Someone that is well qualified and dedicated to keeping your IT infrastructure functioning well.

When it’s time to hire an IT manager, it’s important to find someone who fully understands information technology. They should also have either a Bachelor’s degree in a field such as IT, computer science or information systems. Or experience equivalent to a degree. They need a strong working knowledge of different aspects of computer systems and networks, including security, systems administration, databases, data storage systems and phone systems.

Since your IT manager will be responsible for your entire infrastructure, they need to be familiar with your specific needs and operations. They’ll handle multiple vendors, and if you’ve been doing that yourself, you already know it can be a significant challenge. Keeping up with different software, hardware and equipment vendors is time-consuming but also extremely important. Having someone who can do that efficiently will save you money in the long run.

The Importance of Cybersecurity for SMBs

Another critical aspect of an IT manager’s job is cybersecurity. Which has become increasingly important as hackers and phishers become more sophisticated and determined. A single phishing scam costs small businesses an average of $53,987. And new threats appear on what seems like a daily basis. Small businesses have become a popular target, with about 43% of security attacks aimed at them.

Your IT manager should not only be knowledgeable about the latest security threats and how to avoid them. They should also be able to educate employees about how to protect themselves and the company from falling prey to scams and breaches.  

Skills in cybersecurity and other areas are crucial for anyone hired for the IT service manager role. Cutting corners and costs by hiring someone with less experience and knowledge is a gamble that your business cannot afford. Particularly as cybersecurity threats continue to rise. According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, after a security breach, 37% of small businesses suffer a financial loss, 25% file for bankruptcy and 10% go out of business.  However, if you’re an SMB that already has a small operational budget, hiring an IT manager might seem out of reach. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for an IT manager, as of May 2019, was $146,360. The lowest 10% of IT managers earned just under $87,480, while the highest 10% collected more than $208,000.

Getting an IT Manager Without the Cost

Even if the cost of hiring an IT manager seems prohibitive, the need is still great — and that presents a dilemma for many small businesses. You might wonder if “something is better than nothing” and consider hiring someone who is more affordable but has fewer skills and little experience. 

Or you could look at the opportunities presented by hiring an IT managed services provider. IT Managed services providers (MSPs) are a solution for businesses that want the benefits of a full-time IT staff without the costs normally associated with it. Instead of hiring a staff, an MSP provides you with infrastructure management, help desk support and a full menu of other technical services at a lower cost than hiring individual employees to do the same tasks. Their services are equivalent to what an IT manager will provide, but because MSPs have a full staff of experts, you’ll have access to greater expertise and knowledge than you would when hiring just one or two IT experts. Many small business owners are choosing to work with an MSP over hiring internal IT staff to reduce costs while simultaneously increasing efficiencies. If you’re looking for more information on managed IT services in Atlanta, Georgia, download our free eBook Managed IT Services: Better Than Hiring an IT Pro? In it, you’ll learn more about an IT manager’s role in a small business, their duties and things to consider when hiring one.