We have all done it. Met someone who does (fill in the blank profession) and asked them for “10 minutes” of advice.
Just like your co-worker's dentist husband can’t tell if you need a root canal at the company holiday party – the IT world isn’t quite that simple either.
As it turns out, like your potential root canal, that “simple IT thing” can be much more complicated than you thought.
Marty Kaufman, founder and president of Accent Computer Solutions, Inc., sorts through some of the popular comments and questions he gets on a regular basis, to help dissolve the myths that surround your IT guy’s job
3 Not-So-Simple IT Scenarios
Marty has been in the IT industry for over 30 years. Not only is he respected as an IT thought leader, but he’s also a great businessman with a knack for removing the “necessary evil” from information technology. He’s heard and seen a lot over the years. The following are a few of the most common questions he gets where a misconception is the root of the problem.
1. I’m having trouble with my IT guy -- he doesn’t know how to set up our enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.
“One of the biggest problems I hear from business executives regarding IT has to do with setting up business applications. There’s a misconception that because IT folks help install the hardware and software, they should also configure the system.
ERP systems, and other major business applications, do need to be configured by someone. However, it should be by someone with in-depth knowledge of the business as a whole, and its processes.
Let me ask you this: How would an IT guy know your ERP system needs, your accounting workflow, shop floor controls, or anything else about configuring applications that run your business?
I have clients who invest millions of dollars a year in custom software development. Would you expect an IT professional to walk in and know how to use that custom software? Of course not. The same is true even if it’s not custom.
Your IT department is there to keep the system safe, running, and connected.
Most times, companies need someone like a business process analyst for a major application configuration. This person looks at what you need to get out of your system, and configures workflows and reports accordingly. A software developer or report writer, depending on the configurations, may be needed too.”
2. I have an IT guy, and he just can’t handle the job.
“I hear this comment just as much. It’s not surprising to hear that they’re not satisfied with the results of one person. But what is surprising is that business executives EXPECT one person to know everything about IT. With the added expectation to execute all of the tasks too.
Picture a patient asking a heart surgeon to fix his knee – that’s the same as asking your IT person to be an expert in every aspect of IT.
When companies reach a critical mass of around 30 end users or more, the company’s IT starts to get really complex. It can take a village to figure out and manage the more involved aspects of IT security, networks, and systems.
With the recent rapid advancements in technology, IT has become a broad and complex field. It takes different skillsets to cover everything from strategic IT planning to help desk.
And in most cases, it’s a bigger job than one person can physically handle.
But before hiring more IT staff or outsourcing IT tasks, executives should have measurable key performance indicators (KPIs). Service levels, metrics, and accountability are needed for a transparent look at where time is being spent in the IT department. You can’t manage based on current IT being ‘busy.’”
3. I need a web page designed, and my IT guy is terrible at it.
“There’s this misconception that anything that involves a computer, or is ‘technical,’ should be handled by IT. Therefore, your IT guy should design your web page because it’s a ‘computer task.’ This is asking for trouble.
IT and web design are two different skillsets. Web design is a creative function, not a technical one.
Yes, web designers use computer systems, but it’s a tool to help them do their job. You may know some IT folks who are creative or know their way around web design, but the two disciples are not interchangeable.”
The IT field is broad, and each category is a specialization. And while most IT professionals have vast general knowledge, the person who’s really good at network operations isn’t likely the best person to run your help desk. The specializations within IT directly relate to their skillset and personality traits that are required for that role. Hopefully now you have a better understanding of what your IT department is supposed to be doing. “Just make it work” is not as simple as it may seem.
Related: Ask an IT Guy: What is Failover?
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