Should I have to yell at my IT person to get stuff done?
I have learnt this with my kids many times over and yet, just like you, at times I still find myself yelling for sheer lack of alternative strategies. While we don't have the means or the inclination to entirely outsource the care of our children, school does come in handy to reduce the time spent yelling!
At times, IT problems can illicit similar feelings of frustration, and similarly I am confident that raising my voice at IT people is about as effective in solving the problem as growling at my children.
If you're yelling at your IT person it's possibly for one of two reasons, one is that your expectations of what one person can achieve across a range of technologies and disciplines is unrealistic in a huge and complex field, or it is probably because you're having the wrong conversations in the first place. Are you currently stuck delegating tasks despite not being an IT person yourself? If this sounds familiar the chances are that you lack the right strategy to solve the problems effectively – what you have is a breadth and depth problem.
Many IT people prove themselves to be great technicians who can clean up a virus or replace toner in a printer to keep things running smoothly, however it is highly likely that their focus does not concern the long-term viability of your IT systems and providing a long-term IT strategy that successfully boosts productivity, maintains security and makes use of newer technologies. Without this investment, your IT support is growing less aligned to your business plan, which means you are spending money on IT but failing to witness the benefit of this expenditure.
Alternatively, if your IT person's skills are geared towards the strategic end of the scale, you may have great plans but find yourself struggling to develop the budget to execute these plans in a cost-effective manner. This scenario sees you yelling at a very knowledgeable strategist who has no desire to roll up their sleeves and get on with the job of delivery.
Furthermore, more experienced IT professionals may not even have the desire to keep up with the latest hands-on skills or technologies in the rapidly evolving domain that is information technology.
If your people lack practical skills, you could invest in training them to do a single upgrade job; but it is highly likely that they would never get to use the skills or experience again without moving to another company. Again, not a strong return on investment for your business.
So, yelling clearly will not create harmony or progress, and therefore I suggest you seek alternative ways to strike the right balance between reactive and preventative solutions for your IT environment.
I recommend employing a system of logging requests that allows a team of people to prioritise the jobs that need doing in a structured way, but that also allows service levels to be assigned to problems. This process will ensure that the higher the impact of a problem the sooner it is tackled by the experts. You then need access to a team with the breadth and depth required to resolve the varied problems you face – mountains and molehills!
Large organisations have made use of help desk software and project management software for years to ensure delivery is not a yelling match.
Somehow, this is not always the case in smaller organisations, but that need not be the case, as there are now scalable tools for smart managers in the smallest of businesses.
If IT is a core part of your business but the process of researching and implementing the appropriate management tools is a daunting task, perhaps it is time to consider outsourcing it to a team of people with a broad set of skills and a good set of management tools.
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David Markus is the founder of Combo - the IT services company that ensures IT is never an impediment to growth.